The design of a Space-borne multispectral canopy LiDAR to estimate global carbon stock and gross primary productivity

Emal Rumi, James W Jack, David M Henry, Iain Woodhouse, Caroline Nichol, Malcolm Macdonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

2 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding the dynamics of the global carbon cycle is one of the most challenging issues for the scientific community. The ability to measure the magnitude of terrestrial carbon sinks as well as monitoring the short and long
term changes is vital for environmental decision making. Forests form a significant part of the terrestrial biosystem and understanding the global carbon cycle, Above Ground Biomass (AGB) and Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) are critical parameters. Current estimates of AGB and GPP are not adequate to support models of the global carbon cycle and more accurate estimates would improve predictions of the future and estimates of the likely behaviour of these sinks. Various vegetation indices have been proposed for the characterisation of forests including canopy height, canopy area, Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI). Both NDVI and PRI are obtained from a measure of reflectivity at specific wavelengths and have been estimated from passive measurements.
The use of multi-spectral LiDAR to measure NDVI and PRI and their vertical distribution within the forest represents a significant improvement over current techniques. This paper describes an approach to the design of an advanced Multi-Spectral Canopy LiDAR, using four wavelengths for measuring the vertical profile of the canopy simultaneously. It is proposed that the instrument be placed on a satellite orbiting the Earth on a sun synchronous polar orbit to provide samples on a rectangular grid at an approximate separation of 1km with a suitable revisit frequency. The systems engineering concept design will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSensors, Systems & Next Generation Satellites
Place of PublicationPrague
PagesArticle 8176-61
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2011
EventSPIE Remote Sensing Conference 2011 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 19 Sep 201122 Sep 2011

Publication series

NameSensors Systems & Next Generation Satellites


ConferenceSPIE Remote Sensing Conference 2011
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


  • light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR)
  • photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI)
  • Normalised Difference Vegetation (NDVI)
  • canopy
  • Above Ground Biomass (AGB)
  • cabon stock
  • Gross Primary Productivity (GPP)


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