These remotely sensed, geographically referenced elevation measurements of lidar-derived bare-earth (BE) and first-surface (FS) topography datasets were produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, Florida.
This project provides highly detailed and accurate datasets of a portion of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta region and Three Mile Creek in Alabama, acquired on March 6, 2010. The datasets are made available to research scientists and natural-resource managers for use as a management tool for evaluating how water levels, landform structure, and habitat types interact within the survey area, and how changes in the water flow and elevation affect available stream areas, wetlands, and bottom woodland habitat during seasonal formative periods critical to fish and wildlife production. An innovative airborne lidar instrument originally developed at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility, and known as the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL), was used during data acquisition. The EAARL system is a raster-scanning, waveform-resolving, green-wavelength (532-nanometer) lidar designed to map near-shore bathymetry, topography, and vegetation structure simultaneously. The EAARL sensor suite includes the raster-scanning, water-penetrating full-waveform adaptive lidar, a down-looking red-green-blue (RGB) digital camera, a high-resolution multispectral color-infrared (CIR) camera, two precision dual-frequency kinematic carrier-phase GPS receivers, and an integrated miniature digital inertial measurement unit, which provide for sub-meter georeferencing of each laser sample. The nominal EAARL platform is a twin-engine aircraft, but the instrument was deployed on a Pilatus PC-6. A single pilot, a lidar operator, and a data analyst constitute the crew for most survey operations. This sensor has the potential to make significant contributions in measuring sub-aerial and submarine coastal topography within cross-environmental surveys.
Elevation measurements were collected over the survey area using the EAARL system, and the resulting data were then processed using the Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS), a custom-built processing system developed in a NASA-USGS collaboration. ALPS supports the exploration and processing of lidar data in an interactive or batch mode. Modules for presurvey flight-line definition, flight-path plotting, lidar raster and waveform investigation, and digital camera image playback have been developed. Processing algorithms have been developed to extract the range to the first and last significant return within each waveform. ALPS is used routinely to create maps that represent submerged or sub-aerial topography. Specialized filtering algorithms have been implemented to determine the "bare earth" under vegetation from a point cloud of last return elevations.
For more information about similar projects, please visit the Decision Support for Coastal Science and Management website.
Brock, J.C., Wright, C.W., Sallenger, A.H., Krabill, W.B., and Swift, R.N., 2002, Basis and methods of NASA airborne topographic mapper Lidar surveys for coastal studies: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 18, no. 1, p. 1-13.
Crane, Michael, Clayton, Tonya, Raabe, Ellen, Stoker, Jason, Handley, Larry, Bawden, Gerald, Morgan, Karen, and Queija, Vivian, 2004, Report of the U.S. Geological Survey Lidar workshop sponsored by the Land Remote Sensing Program and held in St. Petersburg, FL, November 2002: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1456, 72 p. (Also available at https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2004/1456/.)
Nayegandhi, Amar, Brock, J.C., and Wright, C.W., 2009, Small-footprint, waveform-resolving lidar estimation of submerged and sub-canopy topography in coastal environments: International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 30, no. 4, p. 861-878.
Sallenger, A.H., Wright, C.W., and Lillycrop, Jeff, 2005, Coastal impacts of the 2004 hurricanes measured with airborne Lidar; initial results: Shore and Beach, v. 73, nos. 2-3, p. 10-14.