Measuring the Urban Forest: Comparing LiDAR derived tree heights to field measurements

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Tree height measurement is a key aspect in ecological studies for the critical assessment of forest biomass, carbon stocks, growth, and site productivity.  This research investigates the advantages and limitations of using two different densities of airborne LiDAR data compared to three different field devices to measure tree heights within an urban environment.  LiDAR data was highly correlated with field measurements for tree height calculation (R²=0.96 in the Panhandle and R²= 0.92 in the Antioch site).  Statistical error calculations show that not only is the difference between LiDAR and field measurements relatively low, but that error in vertical angle measurements from traditional field methods is a major contributor to the overall accuracy between LiDAR- and field-derived tree heights.  These results suggest benefits of using airborne LiDAR data for measuring tree heights in an urban environment.

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