Extracting structural vegetation components from small-footprint waveform lidar for biomass estimation in savanna ecosystems

Joseph McGlinchy, Jan A.N. Van Aardt, Barend Erasmus, Gregory P. Asner, Renaud Mathieu, Konrad Wessels, David Knapp, Ty Kennedy-Bowdoin, Harvey Rhody, John P. Kerekes, Emmett J. Ientilucci, Jiaying Wu, Diane Sarrazin, Kerry Cawse-Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Measurement of vegetation biomass accumulation is critical for ecosystem assessment and monitoring, but doing so typically involves extensive field data collection that yields relatively crude structural outputs, e.g., plot- or site-level metrics. This study assessed the utility of airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) waveform features to explain structural and biomass variation in a savanna ecosystem across a land-use gradient. The ability of aboveground waveform lidar features to model field-based woody and herbaceous biomass measurements was evaluated statistically by regression models using forward variable selection. Waveform features explained 76% of the variation in woody biomass in a regulated communal land use area (RMSE = 29.0 kg). The waveform features were also correlated to herbaceous measurements in the same land-use area, with increased correlations at higher biomass levels. These results indicate that small-footprint waveform lidar data potentially can be used as a single modality to describe heterogeneous woody cover in a savanna environment; however, further research is warranted during the full growing season to fully evaluate its performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6578207
Pages (from-to)480-490
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass estimation
  • feature extraction
  • lidar
  • waveform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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