A study on factors affecting airborne LiDAR penetration

Wei Chen Hsu*, Tian-Yuan Shih, Hung Cheng Chang, Jin King Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study uses data from different periods, areas and parameters of airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) surveys to understand the factors that influence airborne LiDAR penetration rate. A discussion is presented on the relationships between these factors and LiDAR penetration rate. The results show that the flight height above ground level (AGL) does not have any relationship with the penetration rate. There are some factors that should have larger influence. For example, the laser is affected by a wet ground surface by reducing the number of return echoes. The field of view (FOV) has a slightly negative correlation with the penetration rate, which indicates that the laser incidence angle close to zero should achieve the best penetration. The vegetation cover rate also shows a negative correlation with the penetration rate, thus bare ground and reduced vegetation in the aftermath of a typhoon also cause high penetration rate. More return echoes could be extracted from the full-waveform system, thereby effectively improving the penetration rate. This study shows that full-waveform LiDAR is an effective method for increasing the number of surface reflected echoes. This study suggests avoiding LiDAR survey employment directly following precipitation to prevent laser echo reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalTerrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Airborne LiDAR
  • Full-waveform LiDAR
  • LiDAR penetration rate


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