Radiometric Calibration of EAARL‐B Bathymetric Lidar Data Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h415pf940

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  • The Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar ‐ B (EAARL‐B), which was built and deployed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 2014, is a novel topographic‐bathymetric lidar system. While retaining a number of features that were pioneered in the original National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) EAARL system (e.g., low energy, short pulse width, narrow receiver field of view, green‐only laser wavelength), the EAARL‐B added a split‐beam, four‐channel design to improve bathymetric data density and depth measurement range (up to 44 m in clear water). In 2014, the EAARL‐B was used to acquire bathymetric data in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) Biogeography Branch. The enhanced capabilities of the EAARL‐B system, combined with updated algorithms in the processing software, provided high‐quality data covering over 600 km2 in the USVI, filling critical data gaps. However, the EAARL‐B processing software and workflows were lacking a set of tools and procedures to exploit return waveforms (digitized samples of the backscattered signal) for generating seafloor reflectance mosaics and characterizing seafloor composition. This functionality is of significant interest to CCMA to support benthic habitat mapping and management of coral reef ecosystems. While seafloor reflectance mapping and waveform feature extraction tools do exist, in varying degrees and forms, for other bathymetric lidar systems, the extension of these capabilities to the EAARL‐B is challenging, due to the system’s unique design. The goal of this study was to address this need, through development and testing of a new set of processing procedures and algorithms for generating seafloor relative reflectance mosaics and gridded waveform features from EAARL‐B data. The procedures were developed using data from two test sites: Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, and Buck Island, north of Saint Croix. After testing and refining the methods, a seafloor relative reflectance mosaic was generated for a large site south of Saint Thomas. Additionally, raster grids of waveform shape features were produced for a smaller study site encompassing Flat Cays, south of Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas. The procedures have been demonstrated to enable generation of seamless seafloor data products, in which the effects of confounding variables, such as depth, incidence angle, and flight direction, have been virtually eliminated. Current research, led by project partners at NOAA CCMA and the University of New Hampshire, is focusing on using the results of this work to predict species richness, canopy cover, complexity, and coral health (including disease and bleaching) and other parameters for the USVI project sites.
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