Deriving fuel mass by size class in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) using terrestrial laser scanning

Carl Seielstad, Crystal Stonesifer, Eric Rowell, Lloyd Queen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Requirements for describing coniferous forests are changing in response to wildfire concerns, bio-energy needs, and climate change interests. At the same time, technology advancements are transforming how forest properties can be measured. Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) is yielding promising results for measuring tree biomass parameters that, historically, have required costly destructive sampling and resulted in small sample sizes. Here we investigate whether TLS intensity data can be used to distinguish foliage and small branches (≤0.635 cm diameter; coincident with the one-hour timelag fuel size class) from larger branchwood (>0.635 cm) in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) branch specimens. We also consider the use of laser density for predicting biomass by size class. Measurements are addressed across multiple ranges and scan angles. Results show TLS capable of distinguishing fine fuels from branches at a threshold of one standard deviation above mean intensity. Additionally, the relationship between return density and biomass is linear by fuel type for fine fuels (r2 = 0.898; SE 22.7%) and branchwood (r2 = 0.937; SE 28.9%), as well as for total mass (r2 = 0.940; SE 25.5%). Intensity decays predictably as scan distances increase; however, the range-intensity relationship is best described by an exponential model rather than 1/d2. Scan angle appears to have no systematic effect on fine fuel discrimination, while some differences are observed in density-mass relationships with changing angles due to shadowing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1709
Number of pages19
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Biomass
  • Canopy fine fuels
  • Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • Intensity
  • Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)


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