A flight mission of NASA GSFC's Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS) is planned for June-August 2003 in the Amazon region of Brazil. The goal of this flight mission is to map the vegetation height and structure and ground topography of a large area of the Amazon. This data will be used to produce maps of true ground topography, vegetation height, and estimated above-ground biomass and for comparison with and potential calibration of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. Approximately 15,000 sq. km covering various regions of the Amazon will be mapped. The LVIS sensor has the unique ability to accurately sense the ground topography beneath even the densest of forest canopies. This is achieved by using a high signal-to-noise laser altimeter to detect the very weak reflection from the ground that is available only through small gaps in between leaves and between tree canopies. Often the amount of ground signal is 1% or less of the total returned echo. Once the ground elevation is identified, that is used as the reference surface from which we measure the vertical height and structure of the vegetation. Test data over tropical forests have shown excellent correlation between LVIS measurements and biomass, basal area, stem density, ground topography, and canopy height. Examples of laser altimetry data over forests and the relationships to biophysical parameters will be shown. Also, recent advances in the LVIS instrument will be discussed.
American Geophysical Union and Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia; Dec 07, 2002 - Dec 13, 2002; San Francisco, CA; United States