Application of LiDAR Data for the Modeling of Solar Radiation in Forest Artificial Gaps—A Case Study
Artificial canopy gaps (forest openings) are frequently used as an element of regeneration cutting. The development of regeneration in gaps can be controlled by selecting a relevant size and shape for the gap, which will regulate the radiation microclimate inside it. Based on the size and shape of a gap computer models can assess where solar radiation is decreased or eliminated by the surrounding canopy. The accuracy of such models to a large extent depends on how the modeled shape of a gap
... shape of a gap matches the actual shape of the gap. The aim of this study was to compare the results of modeling solar radiation availability by applying Solar Radiation Tools (SRT) that use a different digital surface model (DSM) for a description of the shape of a studied gap, with the results of the analysis of 27 hemispherical photographs. The three-dimensional gap shape was approximated with the use of simple geometrical prisms or airborne laser scanning (LiDAR) data. The impact of two variations of exposure (automatic and manual underexposure) and two variations of automatic thresholding on the congruence of SRT and Gap Light Analyzer (GLA) results were studied. Taking into account information on differences in height between trees surrounding the gap enhanced the results of modeling. The best results were obtained when the boundary of the gap base estimated from LiDAR was expanded in all directions by a value close to a mean radius of the crowns of surrounding trees. Modeling of radiation conditions on the gap floor based on LiDAR data by an SRT program is efficient and more time effective than taking hemispherical photographs. The proposed solution can be successfully applied as a trustworthy source of information about light conditions in gaps, which is needed for management decision-making in silviculture.