Creation of a Digital Surface Model and Extraction of Coarse Woody Debris from Terrestrial Laser Scans in an Open Eucalypt Woodland

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Jasmine Muir1,2, Stuart R Phinn3, John Armston2,3, Peter Scarth2,3 and Teresa Eyre4, (1)University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia, (2)Department of Science Information Technology Innovation and the Arts, Remote Sensing Centre, Brisbane, Australia, (3)University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, (4)Department of Science Information Technology Innovation and the Arts, Herbarium, Brisbane, Australia
Coarse woody debris (CWD) provides important habitat for many species and plays a vital role in nutrient cycling within an ecosystem. In addition, CWD makes an important contribution to forest biomass and fuel loads. Airborne or space based remote sensing instruments typically do not detect CWD beneath the forest canopy. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) provides a ground based method for three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction of surface features and CWD.

This research produced a 3-D reconstruction of the ground surface and automatically classified coarse woody debris from registered TLS scans. The outputs will be used to inform the development of a site-based index for the assessment of forest condition, and quantitative assessments of biomass and fuel loads.

A survey grade terrestrial laser scanner (Riegl VZ400) was used to scan 13 positions, in an open eucalypt woodland site at Karawatha Forest Park, near Brisbane, Australia. Scans were registered, and a digital surface model (DSM) produced using an intensity threshold and an iterative morphological filter. The DSMs produced from single scans were compared to the registered multi-scan point cloud using standard error metrics including: Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), Mean Squared Error (MSE), range, absolute error and signed error. In addition the DSM was compared to a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) produced from Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS).

Coarse woody debris was subsequently classified from the DSM using laser pulse properties, including: width and amplitude, as well as point spatial relationships (e.g. nearest neighbour slope vectors). Validation of the coarse woody debris classification was completed using true-colour photographs co-registered to the TLS point cloud. The volume and length of the coarse woody debris was calculated from the classified point cloud.

A representative network of TLS sites will allow for up-scaling to large area assessment using airborne or space based sensors to monitor forest condition, biomass and fuel loads.