Resolving Earth’s Features with Advanced Geospatial Technology
Our ability to map natural and human features across the Earth’s land surface, including topography, vegetation, and the built environment is unprecedented. Powerful new geospatial technologies are applied in a wide range of environments to answer fundamental questions of importance to human populations and the species and ecosystems with which we interact.
In UNT’s Department of Geography, Dr. Pinliang Dong and his research group couple remote sensing technology (e.g., Light Detection and Ranging, LiDAR) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better resolve the complex properties of forest canopies and improve rapid detection of post-earthquake building damage in urban areas.
Along the San Andreas Fault in California, Dong and his group are developing methods for the assessment of forest canopy characteristics. For example, Haijian Liu (M.Sc. student) is developing automated methods for treetop detection and tree crown identification using LiDAR data. This research is being conducted with the support of Cal Fire in Soquel Demonstration State Forest, part of Central California’s coastal redwood ecosystem (see photos).
In California and Haiti, Wei Liu, a Ph.D. student working under Dong, is evaluating methods and applications of LiDAR, volunteered geographic information (VGI) and Web-GIS for automated assessment of post-disaster building damage and road network blockage. In fact, Liu, Dong, as well as Jianbo Liu and Huadong Guo (Chinese Academy of Sciences) recently published a paper entitled “Evaluation of three-dimensional shape signatures for automated assessment of post-earthquake building damage” in the journal Earthquake Spectra, a prestigious scientific journal with a high impact on research within this field. Yang Liu (M.Sc. student) is comparing LiDAR data and user-generated 3D building models from Google Building Maker in her research on earthquake damage.
GIS and remote sensing can also be applied to solve other important environmental problems, including transportation design, public health, and emergency response.
Dr. Dong and students at Soquel Demonstration State Forest, California.
Redwood forest ecosystem in SDSF, CA.
LiDAR will be used by Dr. Dong and his students for treetop detection and tree crown identification in SDFS, CA.