Satellite lidar vs. small footprint airborne lidar: Comparing the accuracy of aboveground biomass estimates and forest structure metrics at footprint level Academic Article uri icon


  • The use of lidar remote sensing for mapping the spatial distribution of canopy characteristics has the potential to allow an accurate and efficient estimation of tree dimensions and canopy structural properties from local to regional and continental scales. The overall goal of this paper was to compare biomass estimates and height metrics obtained by processing GLAS waveform data and spatially coincident discrete-return airborne lidar data over forest conditions in east Texas. Since biomass estimates are derived from waveform height metrics, we also compared ground elevation measurements and canopy parameters. More specific objectives were to compare the following parameters derived from GLAS and airborne lidar: (1) ground elevations; (2) maximum canopy height; (3) average canopy height; (4) percentiles of canopy height; and (5) above ground biomass. We used the elliptical shape of GLAS footprints to extract canopy height metrics and biomass estimates derived from airborne lidar. Results indicated a very strong correlation for terrain elevations between GLAS and airborne lidar, with an r value of 0.98 and a root mean square error of 0.78. m. GLAS height variables were able to explain 80% of the variance associated with the reference biomass derived from airborne lidar, with an RMSE of 37.7. Mg/ha. Most of the models comparing GLAS and airborne lidar height metrics had R-square values above 0.9. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

published proceedings

  • Remote Sensing of Environment

author list (cited authors)

  • Popescu, S. C., Zhao, K., Neuenschwander, A., & Lin, C

citation count

  • 138

complete list of authors

  • Popescu, Sorin C||Zhao, Kaiguang||Neuenschwander, Amy||Lin, Chinsu

publication date

  • November 2011