Performance of laser-based electronic devices for structural analysis of Amazonian terra-firme forests

Iokanam Sales Pereira, Henrique E.Mendonça do Nascimento, Matheus Boni Vicari, Mathias Disney, Evan H. DeLucia, Tomas Domingues, Bart Kruijt, David Lapola, Patrick Meir, Richard J. Norby, Jean P.H.B. Ometto, Carlos A. Quesada, Anja Rammig, Florian Hofhansl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tropical vegetation biomass represents a key component of the carbon stored in global forest ecosystems. Estimates of aboveground biomass commonly rely on measurements of tree size (diameter and height) and then indirectly relate, via allometric relationships and wood density, to biomass sampled from a relatively small number of harvested and weighed trees. Recently, however, novel in situ remote sensing techniques have been proposed, which may provide nondestructive alternative approaches to derive biomass estimates. Nonetheless, we still lack knowledge of the measurement uncertainties, as both the calibration and validation of estimates using different techniques and instruments requires consistent assessment of the underlying errors. To that end, we investigate different approaches estimating the tropical aboveground biomass in situ. We quantify the total and systematic errors among measurements obtained from terrestrial light detection and ranging (LiDAR), hypsometer-based trigonometry, and traditional forest inventory. We show that laser-based estimates of aboveground biomass are in good agreement (< 10% measurement uncertainty) with traditional measurements. However, relative uncertainties vary among the allometric equations based on the vegetation parameters used for parameterization. We report the error metrics for measurements of tree diameter and tree height and discuss the consequences for estimated biomass. Despite methodological differences detected in this study, we conclude that laser-based electronic devices could complement conventional measurement techniques, thereby potentially improving estimates of tropical vegetation biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number510
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Carbon storage
  • Central-eastern Amazonia
  • Forest structure
  • Light detection and ranging (LiDAR)
  • Terra-firme forest
  • Terrestrial laser scanning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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