Thoughts on using the 3D capability of LiDAR data?

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Thoughts on using the 3D capability of LiDAR data?

Post by LOC » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:37 am

I understand the methodology of Eco and most products are statistical formulations, not a 3D modelling/simulation based, correct?
While LiDAR data is good for extracting data for input to the i-Tree products, I would like to hear your thoughts on the 3D aspects that LiDAR offers. If the 3D aspects can be leveraged for (1) enhancing assessing/estimating eco-services or (2) in these services sustainability? If, so how?
By 3D aspects I refer to canopy volume, crown shapes, vertical distribution, and perhaps other that I don't know.
I realize this question might fall a bit out of i-tree products scope but given your experience with assessing and monitoring ecosystems services, I would like to hear your thoughts on the 3D potential of lidar data.

Thank you,
i-Tree Team
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Re: Thoughts on using the 3D capability of LiDAR data?

Post by Jason.Henning » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:21 pm

The i-Tree Eco model is a bit closer to a simulation/model than an empirical statistical estimate. The i-Tree Eco mode uses measures of tree crown heights and widths, along with percent crown missing, to estimate the 3D volume of a tree crown. Eco then estimates the leaf surface area present within that volume based on tree species. The model then simulates how that leaf surface area interacts with local weather and pollution data to estimate avoided run-off and air pollution removal. The models within Eco that estimate some of the other benefits like carbon storage or impacts on residential heating/cooling are more on the empirical side.

I think that the 3d aspects of lidar do have some potential for creating more precise and repeatable assessments of tree crown volumes and the leaf surface areas those crowns contain. It would only take a small adaptation of the model to use such lidar generated data.

I think the real difficulty is in capturing the lidar data, segmenting out individual tree crowns, and creating the estimates necessary for i-Tree Eco. I think until lidar units become cheaper and easier to use and the methods for creating measurements from those data are refined and automated it will probably be unlikely that an i-Tree adaptation will be created.There is definitely plenty of potential but the current cost and expertise necessary to employ lidar data are a serious limitation.

Thanks for your question.
A member of the i-Tree Team
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