Autonomously operating terrestrial laser scanner

Ecosystem structural properties are inherently dynamic. However, it has been difficult to quantify three dimensional geometric properties of ecosystems at very high temporal and spatial resolution. This is a major limitation for research that attempts to obtain a better mechanistic understanding of fine scale 3-D changes of ecosystem properties (e.g., 3-D changes of plant canopies, snow pack, stream banks, stream channels, soil surfaces, glaciers, or cliffs). To circumvent this problem, we designed and tested an autonomously operating terrestrial laser scanner (ATLS) that allows to monitor 3-D structural processes at high temporal and spatial resolution. For more information about the design and testing of the ATLS, please refer to Eitel et al. (2013).

Figure 1. Scan image taken with the autonomously operating laser scanner.

Figure 2. Autonomously operating terrestrial laser (ATLS) scan of wheat field near Moscow, Idaho.

Figure 3. Autonomously operating terrestrial laser scanner (ATLS) near Toolik, Alaska.

Figure 4. ATLS mounted on flux tower near Toolik, Alaska.

Figure 4. ATLS mounted on flux tower near Toolik, Alaska.

 

Figure 5. Autonomously operating terrestrial laser scanner (ATLS) point cloud from our snow monitoring site near McCall, Idaho.

 

2. Videos and Animations

The following are a few videos and animations that show some ATLS data and derivatives.

ATLS point cloud showing a wheat field before the start of the growing season

 

Animation of daily crop height estimates derived from ATLS data

 

3. Resources

The R code “Rcode point_cloud_CSV.R” allows you to convert raw ATLS data into x,y,z, and intensity information  (important – you do have to install the rgl package in R to run the script. For some more information on the rgl package, see click here). To download the R program, simply click on this link: Rcode point_cloud_CSV_R

After you converted the raw ATLS data into x,y,z, and intensity data, you can display the data in the open source software package CloudCompare.

Eitel, J.U.H., Vierling, L.A., Magney, T.S. 2013. A lightweight, low cost autonomously operating terrestrial laser scanner for quantifying and monitoring ecosystem structural dynamics. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 180, 86-96.