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Measuring Forest Canopy Water Mass in Three Dimensions Using Terrestrial Laser Scanning

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rachel GaultonORCiD, Professor Jon MillsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) 2023.Canopy water mass is an important plant characteristic that can indicate the water status of vegetation. However, the parameter remains under-investigated because measuring it requires defoliating the canopy. This study introduced a non-destructive approach to estimate canopy water mass using terrestrial laser scanning data. Tree 3D models were generated from dual-wavelength TLS data for six forest canopies, then the models were utilized in estimating the canopy LAI, total leaf area, and vertical profiles of canopy leaf area. The estimates were then coupled with canopy equivalent water thickness estimates and vertical profiles of canopy water mass were generated. The results revealed some over- and underestimation in the estimated LAI, but the obtained accuracy was considered sufficient as leaf-on point clouds were used to generate the 3D models. The vertical profiles of canopy water mass showed that the leaf area distribution within the canopy, and the canopy architecture were the main parameters affecting the water mass distribution within the canopy, with mid canopy layers having higher water mass than the other canopy layers. This study showed the potential of TLS to estimate canopy water mass, but controlled experiments that include defoliating canopies are still needed for a direct and accurate validation of the TLS estimates of canopy water mass.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Elsherif A, Gaulton R, Mills JP, El Din ES

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: ISPRS Geospatial Week 2023

Year of Conference: 2023

Pages: 721-726

Online publication date: 13/12/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2023

Date deposited: 05/02/2024

ISSN: 2194-9034

Publisher: International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing


DOI: 10.5194/isprs-archives-XLVIII-1-W2-2023-721-2023

Series Title: International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives