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Demol, Miro TLS for long-term forest monitoring: experience from the ICOS flux tower network Poster
Miro Demol2, Hans Verbeeck1, Kim Calders1 and Bert Gielen2
(1) Ghent University(2) Antwerp University

Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has become a versatile tool for many forest monitoring applications. In contrast with traditional techniques, TLS allows making precise measurements with minimal impact on the forest, and has as such many potential benefits for long term forest monitoring initiatives.

The Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) is a European network of more than 80 intensely monitored forest sites. Using fluxtowers, ICOS ensures high-tech, standardised and continuous measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes at these sites. Opportunities for a better understanding of ecosystem functioning arise when coupling the fluxtower observations with the 3D measurements from TLS. However, till date it is not known whether TLS can meet the stringent data quality demands from initiatives like ICOS. Here, we share the experience from the first TLS campaign in the ICOS network.

We developed a TLS data acquisition strategy and in winter 2018/19 we scanned the most advanced ICOS ecosystem forest sites (2 broadleaf, 4 coniferous; in Germany, France, Finland, Sweden) with the Riegl VZ-400. These baseline measurements highlight important advantages and limitations of using TLS in ICOS – and whether they can replace the current forest inventory methods. The quality of the data is dependent of the weather conditions and the forest composition (species, stem density, slope of terrain) requires adaptations to the predefined protocol. Time series of scans can detect ecosystem changes - in a spatially explicit manner - which were practically impossible to quantify with traditional techniques, but there is a need for a TLS point cloud data quality framework when comparing multi-year scans, especially for geometrical modelling of the tree shape (QSM). Advances in TLS processing algorithms are needed for the centralised data processing in ICOS.