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USGS Scientists Meet to Explore the Role of Lidar Data and Technology in USGS Programs

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Bruce Molnia and Theresa Olsen
Bruce Molnia (Geology Discipline, Reston, VA) and Theresa Olsen (Water Resources Discipline, Tacoma, WA) enjoy lidar "shop talk" at the evening poster session.
More than 50 scientists from all four disciplines of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) participated in a USGS Lidar Workshop held last November in St. Petersburg, FL. Lidar (light detection and ranging) is analogous to radar (radio detection and ranging), except that lidar uses light waves emitted by a laser (rather than radio waves) to gather data. In its simplest form, lidar is used to determine the distance from the laser to a given object. More sophisticated lidar systems can provide such information as sea-surface roughness, wind velocity, or vegetation density.

Sponsored by the USGS' Land Remote Sensing Program and convened by Bryan Bailey (Land Remote Sensing Program), John Brock (Coastal and Marine Geology Program), Pat Chavez (Flagstaff Field Center), Ralph Haugerud (National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program), and Dean Gesch (EROS Data Center), the workshop aimed to identify and discuss a wide range of topics and issues related to USGS applications of lidar data and technology. Primary goals of the workshop were to facilitate interaction and enlightenment of USGS scientists and managers with respect to lidar data and technology and to help them derive maximum and cost-effective benefit from the application of lidar data in their work.

The workshop was characterized by an interactive format, with participants first sharing their individual interests in and experience with lidar data and technology. In subsequent plenary and breakout sessions, six issues that influence the efficient and effective use of lidar data and technology were addressed:

  • Current and future lidar technologies,
  • Lidar applications within USGS science disciplines,
  • Calibration and accuracy assessment,
  • Tools for processing and evaluating lidar data sets,
  • Lidar data management, and
  • Commercial and contracting issues.

A popular feature of the workshop was the evening poster session, which created an opportunity for informal presentation and discussion of ongoing lidar-related work.

Reflecting a longstanding interest in lidar, scientists from the coastal arena constituted a strong presence at the workshop. Presenters from coastal field centers included John Brock ("Temporal Waveform Resolving Lidar" and "Aircraft Position and Attitude Determination"), Tonya Clayton ("Integrated Lidar and Hyperspectral Scanning"), and Amar Nayegandhi ("Tools for Processing and Evaluating Lidar Data Sets: USGS/St. Petersburg Lidar Processing Software"). Participants from the St. Petersburg Science Center (St. Petersburg, FL) included Melanie Harris, Karen Morgan, Eric Nelson, Meg Palmsten, Ellen Raabe, Abby Sallenger, and Hilary Stockdon. Registrants from the Pacific Science Center (Santa Cruz, CA) included Ann Gibbs, Cheryl Hapke, Mimi D'Iorio, and graduate student Dave Reid.

A volunteer committee that includes Ellen and Karen is compiling a workshop report. To receive a copy of the report when it is complete, please e-mail a request to rsnotes@usgs.gov.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Lidar Mapping of Vegetation at Assateague Island National Seashore—a First Look
Dec. 2002 / Jan. 2003
Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs: Testing the Waters at Biscayne National Park
November 2002
USGS Research Contributes to Assateague Island Restoration: Mitigating 70 Years of Coastal Erosion Due to Ocean City Jetties
November 2002
Recent Cruise Completed for the North Carolina Regional Coastal Erosion Study
September 2002
"First Line of Defense" Against Storm Runup Along Florida's Atlantic Coast
March 2002

Related Web Sites
New Mapping Techniques Help Assess the Health of Hawai'i's Coral Reefs
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Puget Sound Lidar Consortium
local agency and Federal research scientists
Feature Extraction from LIDAR
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Hurricane and Extreme Storm Impact Studies: Coastal and Nearshore Mapping with Scanning Airborne Laser (Lidar)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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Research cover story:
Competitive Edge of Invasive Species

Lake Mead Work Continues

Outreach Dolphin Rescue

London Interns Tour St. Pete

Congressional Briefing on Gas Hydrates

Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety

Science Mentoring

Meetings Coastal Vulnerability

Lidar Data and Technology

International Deep-Sea Corals Workshop

Northeastern Coastal Ecosystems and Resources Workshop

Awards Shinn Wins 2002 Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award

Coastal and Marine Scientists Win 2002 Shoemaker Product Excellence Awards

Behrendt and Poag Elected AAAS Fellows

Normark Awarded Keen Medal

Staff & Center News A Tribute to Joe Newell

Marine Geophysics Pioneer Honored

Celebrating Careers of Five Retirees

Manheim Lectures on Trends in Scientific and Technological Innovation

Publications San Francisco Bay Earthquake Hazards

Effectivenes of Marine Reserves in Central California

Human Influence on Diatom Productivity and Sedimentation in Chesapeake Bay

Feb. / Mar. Publications List

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