A Box-Counting Method to Characterize Degrees of Foliage Clumping Using Airborne and Simulated LIDAR Data

Publication Type: Journal Article

Authors: M van Leeuwen, Jan van Aardt, T Kampe, K Krause

Source: The International Archives of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume 40 p.1325 (2015)


Monitoring forest productivity and health is key to sustainable ecosystem management and informed decision making. A key parameter used in monitoring forest resources is the leaf area index (LAI), which is defined as the one-sided leaf area per unit ground area and is used to describe the canopy radiation regime, among other forest biophysical dynamics. Traditional optics-based methods to estimate LAI rely on the measurement of canopy transmission and foliage clumping. Extending optical methods to LiDAR data has been challenging and studies have reported effective LAI assessments, with no further quantification of foliage clumping. This study investigates the use of the box-counting method to assess the fractal dimension of point cloud data for contrasting forest types and along a gradient of foliage dispersal. We demonstrate the box-counting method on simulated ‘range-to-hit’, as well as acquired airborne discrete LiDAR data. Coherent results obtained from the different test cases hint at the potential of the box-counting fractal dimension to characterize foliage clumping and bode well for the use of clumping assessments in support of airborne, wall-to-wall estimates of LAI.

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