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EcoDes-DK15: high-resolution ecological descriptors of vegetation and terrain derived from Denmark's national airborne laser scanning data set

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Biodiversity studies could strongly benefit from three-dimensional data on ecosystem structure derived from contemporary remote sensing technologies, such as light detection and ranging (lidar). Despite the increasing availability of such data at regional and national scales, the average ecologist has been limited in accessing them due to high requirements on computing power and remote sensing knowledge. We processed Denmark's publicly available national airborne laser scanning (ALS) data set acquired in 2014/15, together with the accompanying elevation model, to compute 70 rasterised descriptors of interest for ecological studies. With a grain size of 10m, these data products provide a snapshot of high-resolution measures including vegetation height, structure and density, as well as topographic descriptors including elevation, aspect, slope and wetness across more than 40000km2 covering almost all of Denmark's terrestrial surface. The resulting data set is comparatively small (∼94GB, compressed 16.8GB), and the raster data can be readily integrated into analytical workflows in software familiar to many ecologists (GIS software, R, Python). Source code and documentation for the processing workflow are openly available via a code repository, allowing for transfer to other ALS data sets, as well as modification or re-calculation of future instances of Denmark's national ALS data set. We hope that our high-resolution ecological vegetation and terrain descriptors (EcoDes-DK15) will serve as an inspiration for the publication of further such data sets covering other countries and regions and that our rasterised data set will provide a baseline of the ecosystem structure for current and future studies of biodiversity, within Denmark and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth System Science Data
Pages (from-to)823-844
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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