Seeing forests from three-dimensional (3-D) perspective: opportunities and challenges of lidar technology in forest ecology

Dr. Guang Zheng

Professor of Remote Sensing at the International Institute for Earth System Science (ESSI) of Nanjing University (NJU), China

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With the advent of lidar technology, we can now capture the three-dimensional (3-D) forest structure, which was previously impossible with traditional optical remotely sensed data. New insights into the interaction of forest structure, radiation regime, and physiological processes, the three cornerstones of forest ecological studies, are made possible by the 3-D structural information contained implicitly in forest lidar data. In this presentation, I will show how to use lidar data from many platforms to determine important biophysical characteristics of a forest, such as the percentage of woody components, leaf area index, and stratifying forest overstory and understory. Even more interesting is the resultant spatial and temporal distribution of radiation regime at the plot and landscape levels.

Guang Zheng standing in a park

Dr. Guang Zheng is a Professor of Remote Sensing at the International Institute for Earth System Science (ESSI) of Nanjing University (NJU), China. His research mainly focus on: (1) characterizing three-dimensional (3-D) forest canopy structure using the light detection and ranging (lidar) data generated from various platforms, including Space-bore lidar, Aerial Laser Scanning (ALS), Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS), Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), and UAV-based laser scanning (ULS) data; and (2) investigating the interactions and relationships between forest canopy structure, radiation regime, and physiological processes. He got his Ph.D. from the Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory (RSGAL)at the University of Washington (UW) in 2011.