A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Terrestrial Image-Based Point Clouds for Mapping Near-Ground Vegetation Structure: Potential and Limitations

Author(s): Luke Wallace, Bryan Hally, Samuel Hillman, Simon D. Jones, Karin J. Reinke
Year Published: 2020

Site-specific information concerning fuel hazard characteristics is needed to support wildfire management interventions and fuel hazard reduction programs. Currently, routine visual assessments provide subjective information, with the resulting estimate of fuel hazard varying due to observer experience and the rigor applied in making assessments. Terrestrial remote sensing techniques have been demonstrated to be capable of capturing quantitative information on the spatial distribution of biomass to inform fuel hazard assessments. This paper explores the use of image-based point clouds generated from imagery captured using a low-cost compact camera for describing the fuel hazard within the surface and near-surface layers. Terrestrial imagery was obtained at three distances for five target plots. Subsets of these images were then processed to determine the effect of varying overlap and distribution of image captures. The majority of the point clouds produced using this image-based technique provide an accurate representation of the 3D structure of the surface and near-surface fuels. Results indicate that high image overlap and pixel size are critical; multi-angle image capture is shown to be crucial in providing a representation of the vertical stratification of fuel. Terrestrial image-based point clouds represent a viable technique for low cost and rapid assessment of fuel structure.

Citation: Wallace L, Hally B, Hillman S, Jones SD, and Reinke K. 2020. Terrestrial Image-Based Point Clouds for Mapping Near-Ground Vegetation Structure: Potential and Limitations. Fire 3(4): 59. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3040059
Topic(s): Mapping, Fuels, Risk
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 22106
Record updated: Nov 3, 2020