US: The US Geological Survey (USGS) published a ”Fact Sheet”, describing the use of LiDAR for vegetation mapping along the Gulf coast in Louisiana using the EAARL – Experimental Advanced Airborne Research LiDAR sensor system.
The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program performed this activity in collboration with NASA and the National Park Service (NPS). The collaboration aims to acquire dense topographic LiDAR data in a variety of coastal environments.
The LiDAR-based mapping helped in identifing structural changes across environmental gradients and in assessing damage to forests from storms and parasite infestations. Maps are also being used extensively for conservation, land management applications and decision support systems. In addition, these maps can be used in change analysis and assessment of extreme storm impact on different vegetation communities.
Effective coastal management plans need accurate and detailed representation of the horizontal and vertical structure of plant communities, also called canopy structure. EAARL is a full-waveform digitising LiDAR. It records backscattered laser energy above a very low time interval, creating a data record that is highly sensitive to minor changes in vegetation structure. These ”small footprint” EAARL waveforms can be used to generate accurate estimates of the spatial arrangement in coastal vegetation communities.
The National Park Service (NPS) has been mandated to improve park management through greater reliance on scientific knowledge, and it achieves this goal through its Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program. The NPS Gulf Coast Network (GULN) extends from the western third of Florida through Mississippi and Louisiana to the southeastern quarter of Texas and extends northward to Nashville, Tennessee.
EAARL-derived vegetation measurements are being used to provide reliable and consistent quantitative information on the structural characteristics of park vegetation resources at both small and large scales.