Submitted to: Hydrological Sciences Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Shortly after the development of the first laser instrument in 1960, studies began on using laser distancing technology from airborne platforms to measure surface features on the landscape. Airborne laser altimeter studies in the 1960's and 1970's were used to measure terrain features and sea ice roughness. Research in the 1980s and 1990s has shown that airborne laser measurements can be used to directly measure topography, stream channel cross sections, gully cross sections, soil surface roughness, and vegetation canopy height, cover, and distribution. These laser measurements can be used to estimate forest biomass and volume, aerodynamic roughness, and leaf area index. Airborne laser altimeters provide quick and accurate measurements for evaluating changes in land surface features. Laser altimeters can be an additional tool in the arsenal of remote sensing equipment used to understand watershed properties and to develop plans to manage our water resources.