UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Vegetation Phenology Driving Error Variation in Digital Aerial Photogrammetrically Derived Terrain Models Goodbody, Tristan R.H.; Coops, Nicholas C.; Hermosilla, Txomin; Tompalski, Piotr; Pelletier, Gaetan

Abstract

Digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have emerged as synergistic technologies capable of enhancing forest inventory information. A known limitation of DAP technology is its ability to derive terrain surfaces in areas with moderate to high vegetation coverage. In this study, we sought to investigate the influence of flight acquisition timing on the accuracy and coverage of digital terrain models (DTM) in a low cover forest area in New Brunswick, Canada. To do so, a multi-temporal UAS-acquired DAP data set was used. Acquired imagery was photogrammetrically processed to produce high quality DAP point clouds, from which DTMs were derived. Individual DTMs were evaluated for error using an airborne laser scanning (ALS)-derived DTM as a reference. Unobstructed road areas were used to validate DAP DTM error. Generalized additive mixed models (GAMM) were generated to assess the significance of acquisition timing on mean vegetation cover, DTM error, and proportional DAP coverage. GAMM models for mean vegetation cover and DTM error were found to be significantly influenced by acquisition date. A best available terrain pixel (BATP) compositing exercise was conducted to generate a best possible UAS DAP-derived DTM and outline the importance of flight acquisition timing. The BATP DTM yielded a mean error of −0.01 m. This study helps to show that the timing of DAP acquisitions can influence the accuracy and coverage of DTMs in low cover vegetation areas. These findings provide insight to improve future data set quality and provide a means for managers to cost-effectively derive high accuracy terrain models post-management activity.

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