Full-Waveform LiDAR Pixel Analysis for Low-Growing Vegetation Mapping of Coastal Foredunes in Western France

Research areas:
Remote Sensing
The monitoring of coastal sand dunes requires regular high-resolution aerial photography along hundreds of kilometers of coastal strips. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is now the most widely used method for detailed topographic and vegetation studies. The aim of this work is to show how the full-waveform shapes returned from single or multiple targets can carry information relating to low-vegetation cover and ground roughness of dunes. This work focuses on marram grass, widely involved in the development of mobile dunes. Low-growing plants often exhibit identical pigmentary composition and can only be distinguished by the height of their foliage, which modifies the shape of the LiDAR waveform around the main returns at the top of the foliage. We show that ray tracing of full LiDAR waveforms on the regular grid of pixels of hyperspectral images, acquired synchronously, can resolve the confusion between low-vegetation gradients and bare sand by analyzing the waveform damping induced by cumulating microdiffusion on foliage height, but also with glint effects on the surface roughness of compact materials. Analysis of successive shorelines of wet to dry sand, sand to pioneer couch grass, and couch grass to consolidating marram grass can thereby be conducted routinely.