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Modeling lidar waveforms in heterogeneous and discrete canopies

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3 Author(s)
Ni-Meister, W. ; Earth Sci. & Technol. Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA ; Jupp, D.L.B. ; Dubayah, R.

This study explores the relationship between laser waveforms and canopy structure parameters and the effects of the spatial arrangement of canopy structure on this relationship through a geometric optical model. Studying laser waveforms for such plant canopies is needed for the advanced retrieval of three-dimensional (3D) canopy structure parameters from the vegetation canopy lidar (VCL) mission. For discontinuous plant canopies, a hybrid geometric optical and radiative transfer (GORT) model describing the effects of 3D canopy structure parameters of discrete canopies on the radiation environment has been modified for use with lidar. The GORT model is first used to describe the canopy lidar waveforms as a function of canopy structure parameters and then validated using scanning lidar imager of canopies by echo recovery (SLICER) data collected in conifer forests in central Canada during the boreal ecosystem-atmosphere study (BOREAS). Model simulations show that the clumping in natural vegetation, such as leaves clustering into tree crowns causes larger gap probability and smaller waveforms for discontinuous plant canopies than for horizontally homogeneous plant canopies. Ignoring the clumping effect can result in significantly lower values for the estimated foliage amount in the profile and in turn lower estimated biomass. Because of clumping, only the gap probability and apparent vertical projected foliage profile can be directly retrieved from the canopy lidar data. The retrieval is sensitive to the ratio of the volume backscattering coefficients of the vegetation and background, and this ratio depends on canopy architecture as well as foliage spectral characteristics

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:39 ,  Issue: 9 )