Surveys in Geophysics

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Real-Time Density and Thickness Estimation of Thin Asphalt Pavement Overlay During Compaction Using Ground Penetrating Radar Data

Mon, 07/15/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Achieving desired density is crucial for thin asphalt concrete (AC) overlay construction quality control and quality assurance purposes. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) can be implemented for AC pavement layer thickness and density prediction during compaction. However, the overlapping of GPR reflections from surface and bottom of the thin AC overlay, as well as the presence of surface moisture, jeopardizes the prediction accuracy. In this study, a pavement model with thin AC overlay was simulated using gprMax, a finite-difference time-domain-based tool. Surface moisture was simulated as a 2-mm film with mixed electrical properties of water and AC. A nonlinear optimization method was used to address the overlapping and surface moisture issues simultaneously. The error of the thin AC overlay dielectric constant and thickness prediction results was less than 7% and 10%, respectively. Field test during thin overlay compaction was also performed to validate the proposed method. The AC overlay thickness and density estimation accuracies were 91% and 99%, respectively.

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Recent Advances in Tree Root Mapping and Assessment Using Non-destructive Testing Methods: A Focus on Ground Penetrating Radar

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the existing literature on the subject of the assessment and monitoring of tree roots and their interactions with the soil. An overview of tree root system architectures is given, and the main issues in terms of tree health and stability, as well as the impact of trees on the built environment, are discussed. An overview of the main destructive and non-destructive testing methods is presented, and a lack of available research-based outputs in the fields of tree root interconnectivity and soil interaction is highlighted. The effectiveness of non-destructive methods in these areas is demonstrated, in particular that of ground-penetrating radar. The paper references recent developments in estimating tree root mass density and health.

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Correction to: Concepts and Terminology for Sea Level: Mean, Variability and Change, Both Local and Global

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 00:00

In the author group at the start of the article and in the affiliations section at the end of the article.

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Using a Finer Resolution Biomass Map to Assess the Accuracy of a Regional, Map-Based Estimate of Forest Biomass

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

National greenhouse gas inventories often use variations of the gainloss approach whereby emissions are estimated as the products of estimates of areas of land-use change characterized as activity data and estimates of emissions per unit area characterized as emission factors. Although the term emissions is often intuitively understood to mean release of greenhouse gases from terrestrial sources to the atmosphere, in fact, emission factors can also be negative, meaning removal of the gases from the atmosphere to terrestrial sinks. For remote and inaccessible forests for which ground sampling is difficult if not impossible, emission factors may be based on map-based estimates of biomass or biomass change obtained from regional maps. For the special case of complete deforestation, the emission factor for the aboveground biomass pool is simply mean aboveground, live-tree, biomass per unit area prior to the deforestation. If biomass maps are used for these purposes, estimates must still comply with the first IPCC good practice guideline regarding accuracy relative to the true value and the second guideline regarding uncertainty. Accuracy assessment for a map-based estimate entails comparison of the estimate to a second estimate obtained using independent reference data. Assuming ground sampling is not feasible, a map of greater quality than the regional map may be considered as a source of reference data where greater quality connotes attributes such as finer resolution and/or greater accuracy. For a local, sub-regional study area in Minnesota in the USA, the accuracy of an estimate of mean aboveground, live-tree biomass per unit area (AGB, Mg/ha) obtained from a coarser resolution, regional, MODIS-based biomass map was assessed using reference data sampled from a finer resolution, local, airborne laser scanning (ALS)-based biomass map. The rationale for a local assessment of a regional map is that, although assessment of a regional map would be difficult for the entire extent of the map, it can likely be assessed for multiple local sub-regions in which case expected local regional accuracy for the entire map can perhaps be inferred. For this study, the local assessment was in the form of a test of the hypothesis that the local sub-regional estimate from the regional map did not deviate from the local true value. A hybrid approach to inference was used whereby design-based inferential techniques were used to estimate uncertainty due to sampling from the finer resolution map, and model-based inferential techniques were used to estimate uncertainty resulting from using the finer resolution map unit values which were subject to prediction error as reference data. The test revealed no statistically significant difference between the MODIS-based and ALS-based map estimates, thereby indicating that for the local sub-region, the regional, MODIS-based estimate complied with the first IPCC good practice guideline for accuracy.

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The Relevance of Forest Structure for Biomass and Productivity in Temperate Forests: New Perspectives for Remote Sensing

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Forests provide important ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration. Forest landscapes are intrinsically heterogeneous—a problem for biomass and productivity assessment using remote sensing. Forest structure constitutes valuable additional information for the improved estimation of these variables. However, survey of forest structure by remote sensing remains a challenge which results mainly from the differences in forest structure metrics derived by using remote sensing compared to classical structural metrics from field data. To understand these differences, remote sensing measurements were linked with an individual-based forest model. Forest structure was analyzed by lidar remote sensing using metrics for the horizontal and vertical structures. To investigate the role of forest structure for biomass and productivity estimations in temperate forests, 25 lidar metrics of 375,000 simulated forest stands were analyzed. For the lidar-based metrics, top-of-canopy height arose as the best predictor for describing horizontal forest structure. The standard deviation of the vertical foliage profile was the best predictor for the vertical heterogeneity of a forest. Forest structure was also an important factor for the determination of forest biomass and aboveground wood productivity. In particular, horizontal structure was essential for forest biomass estimation. Predicting aboveground wood productivity must take into account both horizontal and vertical structures. In a case study based on these findings, forest structure, biomass and aboveground wood productivity are mapped for whole of Germany. The dominant type of forest in Germany is dense but less vertically structured forest stands. The total biomass of all German forests is 2.3 Gt, and the total aboveground woody productivity is 43 Mt/year. Future remote sensing missions will have the capability to provide information on forest structure (e.g., from lidar or radar). This will lead to more accurate assessments of forest biomass and productivity. These estimations can be used to evaluate forest ecosystems related to climate regulation and biodiversity protection.

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The Role and Need for Space-Based Forest Biomass-Related Measurements in Environmental Management and Policy

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

The achievement of international goals and national commitments related to forest conservation and management, climate change, and sustainable development requires credible, accurate, and reliable monitoring of stocks and changes in forest biomass and carbon. Most prominently, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in particular require data on biomass to monitor progress. Unprecedented opportunities to provide forest biomass data are created by a series of upcoming space-based missions, many of which provide open data targeted at large areas and better spatial resolution biomass monitoring than has previously been achieved. We assess various policy needs for biomass data and recommend a long-term collaborative effort among forest biomass data producers and users to meet these needs. A gap remains, however, between what can be achieved in the research domain and what is required to support policy making and meet reporting requirements. There is no single biomass dataset that serves all users in terms of definition and type of biomass measurement, geographic area, and uncertainty requirements, and whether there is need for the most recent up-to-date biomass estimate or a long-term biomass trend. The research and user communities should embrace the potential strength of the multitude of upcoming missions in combination to provide for these varying needs and to ensure continuity for long-term data provision which one-off research missions cannot provide. International coordination bodies such as Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), and Global Observation of Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC‐GOLD) will be integral in addressing these issues in a way that fulfils these needs in a timely fashion. Further coordination work should particularly look into how space-based data can be better linked with field reference data sources such as forest plot networks, and there is also a need to ensure that reference data cover a range of forest types, management regimes, and disturbance regimes worldwide.

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Understanding the Land Carbon Cycle with Space Data: Current Status and Prospects

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Our understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle has been greatly enhanced since satellite observations of the land surface started. The advantage of remote sensing is that it provides wall-to-wall observations including in regions where in situ monitoring is challenging. This paper reviews how satellite observations of the biosphere have helped improve our understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle. First, it details how remotely sensed information of the land surface has provided new means to monitor vegetation dynamics and estimate carbon fluxes and stocks. Second, we present examples of studies which have used satellite products to evaluate and improve simulations from global vegetation models. Third, we focus on model data integration approaches ranging from bottom-up extrapolation of single variables to carbon cycle data assimilation system able to ingest multiple types of observations. Finally, we present an overview of upcoming satellite missions which are likely to further improve our understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle and its response to climate change and extremes.

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Early Lessons on Combining Lidar and Multi-baseline SAR Measurements for Forest Structure Characterization

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

The estimation and monitoring of 3D forest structure at large scales strongly rely on the use of remote sensing techniques. Today, two of them are able to provide 3D forest structure estimates: lidar and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) configurations. The differences in wavelength, imaging geometry, and technical implementation make the measurements provided by the two configurations different and, when it comes to the sensitivity to individual 3D forest structure components, complementary. Accordingly, the potential of combining lidar and SAR measurements toward an improved 3D forest structure estimation has been recognised from the very beginning. However, until today there is no established framework for this combination. This paper attempts to review differences, commonalities, and complementarities of lidar and SAR measurements. First, vertical lidar reflectance and SAR reflectivity profiles at different wavelengths are compared in different forest types. Then, current perspectives on their combination for the generation of enhanced structure products are discussed. Two promising frameworks for combining lidar and SAR measurements are reviewed. The first one is a model-based framework where lidar-derived parameters are used to initialize SAR scattering models, and relies on both the validity of the models and on the physical equivalence of the used lidar and SAR parameters. The second one is a structure-based framework based on the ability of lidar and SAR measurements to express physical forest structure by means of appropriate indices. These indices can then be used to establish a link between the two kind of measurements. The review is supported by experimental results achieved using space- and airborne data acquired in recent relevant mission and campaigns.

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Aspects of Forest Biomass in the Earth System: Its Role and Major Unknowns

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Forests are a major and diverse land cover occupying a third of the terrestrial vegetated surface; they store 50 to 65% of terrestrial organic carbon (including the soil) and contribute half to terrestrial productivity. Forest biomass stores close to 80% of all the biomass on Earth. As noted earlier, forests play an important role in the Earth system as carbon stocks, carbon sinks, mediator of the water cycle and as modifier of land surface roughness and albedo. Moreover, forests play a role as habitat for many species, are an economic source of timber and firewood and have recreational value for local populations and touristic visitors. Here, we appraise how ecosystem functions are influenced in particular by biomass and its vertical and horizontal distribution and hypothesize that almost all functions are directly or indirectly related to biomass, in addition to other factors. At landscape or regional scale, heterogeneity of biomass presumably has an important influence on a variety of processes, but there are gaps both in quantifying the heterogeneity of forests globally and in quantifying the effect of this heterogeneity. Similarly, while the role of forests for the global carbon cycle is important, large uncertainties exist regarding stocks, turnover times and the carbon sink function in forest, as an analysis of state-of-the-art carbon cycle and vegetation models shows. Upcoming global satellite missions such as GEDI, NISAR and BIOMASS will be able to address the above uncertainties and lack of understanding in combination with modeling approaches, in particular by exploiting information on vertical and horizontal heterogeneity.

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Non-destructive Assessment and Health Monitoring of Railway Infrastructures

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

A continuous increase in the worldwide demand for high-speed traffic, freight tonnage as well as of the train operating frequency is worsening the decay conditions of many railway infrastructures. This occurrence affects economy-related business as well as contributing to rising maintenance costs. It is known that a failure of a railway track may result in tremendous economic losses, legal liabilities, service interruptions and, eventually, fatalities. Parallel to this, requirements to maintain acceptable operational standards are very demanding. In addition to the above, a main issue nowadays in railway engineering is a general lack of funds to allow safety and comfort of the operations as well as a proper maintenance regime of the infrastructures. This is mostly the result of a traditional approach that, on average, tends to invest in high-priority costs, such as safety-related costs, compromising lower-priority interventions (e.g., quality and comfort of the operations). A solution to correct this trend can be moving from a reactive to a proactive action planning approach in order to limit more effectively the likelihood of progressive rail track decay. Within this context, this paper reports a review on the use of traditional and non-destructive testing (NDT) methods for the assessment and health monitoring of railway infrastructures. State-of-the-art research on a stand-alone use of NDT methods or a combination of them for quality control, inspection and maintenance tasks in this subject area is discussed.

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Species Matter: Wood Density Influences Tropical Forest Biomass at Multiple Scales

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

The mass of carbon contained in trees is governed by the volume and density of their wood. This represents a challenge to most remote sensing technologies, which typically detect surface structure and parameters related to wood volume but not to its density. Since wood density is largely determined by taxonomic identity this challenge is greatest in tropical forests where there are tens of thousands of tree species. Here, using pan-tropical literature and new analyses in Amazonia with plots with reliable identifications we assess the impact that species-related variation in wood density has on biomass estimates of mature tropical forests. We find impacts of species on forest biomass due to wood density at all scales from the individual tree up to the whole biome: variation in tree species composition regulates how much carbon forests can store. Even local differences in composition can cause variation in forest biomass and carbon density of 20% between subtly different local forest types, while additional large-scale floristic variation leads to variation in mean wood density of 10–30% across Amazonia and the tropics. Further, because species composition varies at all scales and even vertically within a stand, our analysis shows that bias and uncertainty always result if individual identity is ignored. Since sufficient inventory-based evidence based on botanical identification now exists to show that species composition matters biome-wide for biomass, we here assemble and provide mean basal-area-weighted wood density values for different forests across the lowand tropical biome. These range widely, from 0.467 to 0.728 g cm−3 with a pan-tropical mean of 0.619 g cm−3. Our analysis shows that mapping tropical ecosystem carbon always benefits from locally validated measurement of tree-by-tree botanical identity combined with tree-by-tree measurement of dimensions. Therefore whenever possible, efforts to map and monitor tropical forest carbon using remote sensing techniques should be combined with tree-level measurement of species identity by botanists working in inventory plots.

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A Joint ESA-NASA Multi-mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP) for Biomass, NISAR, and GEDI

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

In order to help scientists in the above ground biomass community and to support the science behind the upcoming BIOMASS, NISAR, and GEDI satellite missions, ESA and NASA are collaborating on the Multi-Mission Algorithm and Analysis Platform (MAAP). The MAAP is a jointly developed and implemented platform that will include not only data (satellite, airborne, in situ data, and products), but also computing capabilities and sets of tools and algorithms developed to support this specific field of research. To best ensure that users are able to collaborate across the platform and to access needed resources, the MAAP requires all data, algorithms, and software to conform to open access and open source policies. In addition to aiding researchers, the MAAP exercise is establishing a collaboration framework between ESA and NASA that focuses on sharing data, science algorithms, and computable resources in order to foster and accelerate scientific research.

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Upscaling Forest Biomass from Field to Satellite Measurements: Sources of Errors and Ways to Reduce Them

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Forest biomass monitoring is at the core of the research agenda due to the critical importance of forest dynamics in the carbon cycle. However, forest biomass is never directly measured; thus, upscaling it from trees to stand or larger scales (e.g., countries, regions) relies on a series of statistical models that may propagate large errors. Here, we review the main steps usually adopted in forest aboveground biomass mapping, highlighting the major challenges and perspectives. We show that there is room for improvement along the scaling-up chain from field data collection to satellite-based large-scale mapping, which should lead to the adoption of effective practices to better control the propagation of errors. We specifically illustrate how the increasing use of emerging technologies to collect massive amounts of high-quality data may significantly improve the accuracy of forest carbon maps. Furthermore, we discuss how sources of spatially structured biases that directly propagate into remote sensing models need to be better identified and accounted for when extrapolating forest carbon estimates, e.g., through a stratification design. We finally discuss the increasing realism of 3D simulated stands, which, through radiative transfer modelling, may contribute to a better understanding of remote sensing signals and open avenues for the direct calibration of large-scale products, thereby circumventing several current difficulties.

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The Importance of Consistent Global Forest Aboveground Biomass Product Validation

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Several upcoming satellite missions have core science requirements to produce data for accurate forest aboveground biomass mapping. Largely because of these mission datasets, the number of available biomass products is expected to greatly increase over the coming decade. Despite the recognized importance of biomass mapping for a wide range of science, policy and management applications, there remains no community accepted standard for satellite-based biomass map validation. The Committee on Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) is developing a protocol to fill this need in advance of the next generation of biomass-relevant satellites, and this paper presents a review of biomass validation practices from a CEOS perspective. We outline the wide range of anticipated user requirements for product accuracy assessment and provide recommendations for the validation of biomass products. These recommendations include the collection of new, high-quality in situ data and the use of airborne lidar biomass maps as tools toward transparent multi-resolution validation. Adoption of community-vetted validation standards and practices will facilitate the uptake of the next generation of biomass products.

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The Status of Technologies to Measure Forest Biomass and Structural Properties: State of the Art in SAR Tomography of Tropical Forests

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) tomography (TomoSAR) is an emerging technology to image the 3D structure of the illuminated media. TomoSAR exploits the key feature of microwaves to penetrate into vegetation, snow, and ice, hence providing the possibility to see features that are hidden to optical and hyper-spectral systems. The research on the use of P-band waves, in particular, has been largely propelled since 2007 in experimental studies supporting the future spaceborne Mission BIOMASS, to be launched in 2022 with the aim of mapping forest aboveground biomass (AGB) accurately and globally. The results obtained in the frame of these studies demonstrated that TomoSAR can be used for accurate retrieval of geophysical variables such as forest height and terrain topography and, especially in the case of dense tropical forests, to provide a more direct link to AGB. This paper aims at providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding of TomoSAR and its application for remote sensing of forested areas, with special attention to the case of tropical forests. We will introduce the basic physical principles behind TomoSAR, present the most relevant experimental results of the last decade, and discuss the potentials of BIOMASS tomography.

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Recent Advances in Forest Observation with Visual Interpretation of Very High-Resolution Imagery

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

The land area covered by freely available very high-resolution (VHR) imagery has grown dramatically over recent years, which has considerable relevance for forest observation and monitoring. For example, it is possible to recognize and extract a number of features related to forest type, forest management, degradation and disturbance using VHR imagery. Moreover, time series of medium-to-high-resolution imagery such as MODIS, Landsat or Sentinel has allowed for monitoring of parameters related to forest cover change. Although automatic classification is used regularly to monitor forests using medium-resolution imagery, VHR imagery and changes in web-based technology have opened up new possibilities for the role of visual interpretation in forest observation. Visual interpretation of VHR is typically employed to provide training and/or validation data for other remote sensing-based techniques or to derive statistics directly on forest cover/forest cover change over large regions. Hence, this paper reviews the state of the art in tools designed for visual interpretation of VHR, including Geo-Wiki, LACO-Wiki and Collect Earth as well as issues related to interpretation of VHR imagery and approaches to quality assurance. We have also listed a number of success stories where visual interpretation plays a crucial role, including a global forest mask harmonized with FAO FRA country statistics; estimation of dryland forest area; quantification of deforestation; national reporting to the UNFCCC; and drivers of forest change.

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New Opportunities for Forest Remote Sensing Through Ultra-High-Density Drone Lidar

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Current and planned space missions will produce aboveground biomass density data products at varying spatial resolution. Calibration and validation of these data products is critically dependent on the existence of field estimates of aboveground biomass and coincident remote sensing data from airborne or terrestrial lidar. There are few places that meet these requirements, and they are mostly in the northern hemisphere and temperate zone. Here we summarize the potential for low-altitude drones to produce new observations in support of mission science. We describe technical requirements for producing high-quality measurements from autonomous platforms and highlight differences among commercially available laser scanners and drone aircraft. We then describe a case study using a heavy-lift autonomous helicopter in a temperate mountain forest in the southern Czech Republic in support of calibration and validation activities for the NASA Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation. Low-altitude flight using drones enables the collection of ultra-high-density point clouds using wider laser scan angles than have been possible from traditional airborne platforms. These measurements can be precise and accurate and can achieve measurement densities of thousands of points · m−2. Analysis of surface elevation measurements on a heterogeneous target observed 51 days apart indicates that the realized range accuracy is 2.4 cm. The single-date precision is 2.1–4.5 cm. These estimates are net of all processing artifacts and geolocation errors under fully autonomous flight. The 3D model produced by these data can clearly resolve branch and stem structure that is comparable to terrestrial laser scans and can be acquired rapidly over large landscapes at a fraction of the cost of traditional airborne laser scanning.

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Ground Data are Essential for Biomass Remote Sensing Missions

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

Several remote sensing missions will soon produce detailed carbon maps over all terrestrial ecosystems. These missions are dependent on accurate and representative in situ datasets for the training of their algorithms and product validation. However, long-term ground-based forest-monitoring systems are limited, especially in the tropics, and to be useful for validation, such ground-based observation systems need to be regularly revisited and maintained at least over the lifetime of the planned missions. Here we propose a strategy for a coordinated and global network of in situ data that would benefit biomass remote sensing missions. We propose to build upon existing networks of long-term tropical forest monitoring. To produce accurate ground-based biomass estimates, strict data quality must be guaranteed to users. It is more rewarding to invest ground resources at sites where there currently is assurance of a long-term commitment locally and where a core set of data is already available. We call these ‘supersites’. Long-term funding for such an inter-agency endeavour remains an important challenge, and we here provide costing estimates to facilitate dialogue among stakeholders. One critical requirement is to ensure in situ data availability over the lifetime of remote sensing missions. To this end, consistent guidelines for supersite selection and management are proposed within the Forest Observation System, long-term funding should be assured, and principal investigators of the sites should be actively involved.

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Innovations in Ground and Airborne Technologies as Reference and for Training and Validation: Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 00:00
Abstract

The use of terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to provide accurate estimates of 3D forest canopy structure and above-ground biomass (AGB) has developed rapidly. Here, we provide an overview of the state of the art in using TLS for estimating forest structure for AGB. We provide a general overview of TLS methods and then outline the advantages and limitations of TLS for estimating AGB. We discuss the specific type of measurements that TLS can provide, tools and methods that have been developed for turning TLS point clouds into quantifiable metrics of tree size and volume, as well as some of the challenges to improving these measurements. We discuss the role of TLS for enabling accurate calibration and validation (cal/val) of Earth observation (EO)-derived estimates of AGB from spaceborne lidar and RADAR missions. We give examples of the types of TLS equipment that are in use and how these might develop in future, and we show examples of where TLS has already been applied to measuring AGB in the tropics in particular. Comparing TLS with harvested AGB shows r2 > 0.95 for all studies thus far, with absolute agreement to within 10% at the individual tree level for all trees and to within 2% in the majority of cases. Current limitations to the uptake of TLS include the capital cost of some TLS equipment, processing complexity and the relatively small coverage that is possible. We argue that combining TLS measurements with the existing ground-based survey approaches will allow improved allometric models and better cal/val, resulting in improved regional and global estimates of AGB from space, with better-characterised, lower uncertainties. The development of new, improved equipment and methods will accelerate this process and make TLS more accessible.

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