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Use of Orbital LIDAR in the Brazilian Cerrado Biome: Potential Applications and Data Availability

Author(s): Laerte Guimarães Ferreira | Timothy J. Urban | Amy Neuenschawander | Fernando Moreira de Araújo

Journal: Remote Sensing
ISSN 2072-4292

Volume: 3;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 2187;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Cerrado | LIDAR | ICESat GLAS | biomass mapping | carbon stocks

This paper focuses on the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) data availability over the 2 million km2 Cerrado, the Brazilian central savanna biome and one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Overall, about 2.5 million laser shots, distributed along the seven years of ICESat operation (2003–2009) and comprising three major seasonal domains, were acquired, from which, 206,026 and 176,035 screened footprints are coincident with the remnant vegetation and cultivated pasture areas (the dominant land-use form in the Cerrado). Although these points are well distributed over the entire Cerrado, the ICESat track data collection results in substantial data gaps. In relation to the 15,612 Cerrado watersheds (6th order Otto basin system), 8,369 and 4,415 watersheds are completely deprived of data points over their remnant vegetation and pasture covers, respectively. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) availability was also evaluated in relation to specific targets of interest, including both fully-protected conservation units as well as areas impacted by fire and deforestation. In spite of the very few occurrences, our assessments indicate that enough LIDAR data is available for retrieving structural and functional properties of a variety of Cerrado physiognomies, as well as to assess how these physiognomies respond to anthropogenic induced changes. In fact, the comprehensive data availability analysis conducted in this study corroborate the potential of GLAS LIDAR waveforms for the retrieval of biophysical properties at both local and regional scales, particularly concerning remnant carbon stocks and pasture conditions, key information for the conservation of the fast-changing and severely threatened Cerrado.
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