A national framework for community LIDAR datasets Abstract


  • LiDAR (Light Distance And Ranging a.k.a. Airborne Laser Swath Mapping—if airborne and Terrestrial Laser Scanning—if ground-based) is an emerging technology for acquiring high-resolution digital terrain models. Typical airborne LIDAR surveys sample the ground surface and vegetative cover multiple times per m2 while ground-based LiDAR samples at centimeter densities. These data and the associated panchromatic, color, or hyperspectral imagery that may be collected simultaneously provide unprecedented representations of the earth's surface (topography and vegetation) enabling the study of natural processes at resolutions not previously possible yet essential for their appropriate representation. Community-oriented LiDAR acquisition efforts (e.g., GeoEarthscope and NEON) will produce datasets with billions of LiDAR returns and terabytes of imagery data. Managing, archiving, distributing, and processing such data represent a significant computational challenge that can limit the utility of these datasets for scientific users. Based on a prototype system developed in GEON, we propose a national cyberinfrastructure framework for community LiDAR datasets that would significantly ease access to these datasets by providing internet-based data distribution and processing tools. The architecture we propose capitalizes on a distributed network of data servers and processing resources that are accessed via a web portal. This distributed network utilizes modular web services and is seamlessly linked to allow users to interactively access and process regardless of where the data or processing tools are physically located. This framework allows users to select a subset of data, generate terrain models as well as derived products with processing parameters they define and to download and/or visualize their results depending on user specification. The national cyberinfrastructure framework for LiDAR presented here both significantly enhances the utility of these data for scientific users as well as provides a clear example for distributing and processing computationally challenging community earth science datasets. The GEON prototype (the GEON LiDAR Workflow) is currently available for use via the GEON Portal (portal.geongrid.org).

publication date

  • 2006