Cici Alexander

Backscatter coefficient as an attribute for the classification of full-waveform airborne laser scanning data in urban areas

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  • Cici Alexander
  • Kevin Tansey, Leicester University
  • ,
  • Jörg Kaduk, Leicester University
  • ,
  • David Holland, Ordnance Survey
  • ,
  • Nicholas J. Tate, Leicester University

Airborne laser scanning (ALS) data are increasingly being used for land cover classification. The amplitudes of echoes from targets, available from full-waveform ALS data, have been found to be useful in the classification of land cover. However, the amplitude of an echo is dependent on various factors such as the range and incidence angle, which makes it difficult to develop a classification method which can be applied to full-waveform ALS data from different sites, scanning geometries and sensors. Additional information available from full-waveform ALS data, such as range and echo width, can be used for radiometric calibration, and to derive backscatter cross section. The backscatter cross section of a target is the physical cross sectional area of an idealised isotropic target, which has the same intensity as the selected target. The backscatter coefficient is the backscatter cross section per unit area. In this study, the amplitude, backscatter cross section and backscatter coefficient of echoes from ALS point cloud data collected from two different sites are analysed based on urban land cover classes. The application of decision tree classifiers developed using data from the first study area on the second demonstrates the advantage of using the backscatter coefficient in classification methods, along with spatial attributes. It is shown that the accuracy of classification of the second study area using the backscatter coefficient (kappa coefficient 0.89) is higher than those using the amplitude (kappa coefficient 0.67) or backscatter cross section (kappa coefficient 0.68). This attribute is especially useful for separating road and grass.

Original languageEnglish
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010

    Research areas

  • Calibration, Classification, Comparison, Laser scanning, LIDAR, Point cloud

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