Home > Explore Data & Reports > Mapping Seafloor Relative Reflectance and Assessing Coral Reef Morphology with EAARL-B Topobathymetric Lidar Waveforms


Wilson, N., C.E. Parrish, T. Battista, C.W. Wright, B. Costa, R.K. Slocum, J.A. Dijkstra, and M.T. Tyler. 2019. Mapping Seafloor Relative Reflectance and Assessing Coral Reef Morphology with EAARL-B Topobathymetric Lidar Waveforms. Estuaries and Coasts. doi:10.1007/s12237-019-00652-9

Data/Report Type:

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Topobathymetric lidar is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for benthic habitat mapping, enabling safe, efficient data acquisition over coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems. In 2014, a novel topobathymetric lidar system, the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar-B (EAARL-B), was used to acquire data in priority habitat areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), spanning the 0–44-m depth range. In this study, new algorithms and procedures were developed for generating seafloor relative reflectance, along with a suite of shape-based waveform features from EAARL-B. Waveform features were then correlated with percent cover of coral morphologies, domed and branched, and total cover of hard and soft corals. Results show that the EAARL-B can be used to produce useful seafloor relative reflectance mosaics and also that the additional waveform shape-based features contain additional information that may benefit habitat classification—specifically, to aid in distinguishing among hard corals and their coral morphologies, domed and branched. Knowing the spatial extent of changes in coral communities is important to the understanding of resiliency of coral reefs under stress from human impacts.

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