Using Google Earth like Lidar

General discussions of measurement techniques and the results of testing of techniques and equipment.

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John Harvey
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Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by John Harvey » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:19 am

Ok so this isn't anywhere as close to being as accurate but I've found it really effective lately in finding the tallest trees in an area. When you are surveying trees where Google street view can be used to eliminate the presence of hills/valleys or view how much of a hill is there, you can easily pick out the tallest trees in the area. I've been using this method recently and so far have an amazing success rate with it. In this photo is a cluster of Redwoods on even ground in a shopping plaza. The tallest tree appears in red and it is in fact 137', and the tallest in the group of 7 trees.
redwoods bascom.jpg
The is next photo reveals a road side grove of Eucalyptus Globulus. The trees I did measure here exceeded 180ft, there was even two not in the photo that were 195ft +. The tree circled in red I did not measure, is not on a hill, and is clearly taller than anything, anywhere around here. I can almost guarantee its over 200ft and maybe 210ft plus.
euc2.jpg
euc3.jpg
I've tested this method time and time again by verifying it on the ground. There is a method of error, it doesn't give you numbers, hills and valleys can be missed...but it does give you an idea in spots where Lidar doesn't exist. When you are in full 3D mode it is even more obvious than in these pictures.
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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John Harvey
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by John Harvey » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:30 am

One more of the 196'. Also obvious as the tallest tree here even though there is some hill elevation and some trees around it sit higher on the hill and are in the 180'+ range. This method is only good to tell what the tallest are in a given area but once you've measured a tree in the area and have that measurement as a height reference and can pin point it on the map...your in.
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195 euc.jpg
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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Don
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by Don » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:43 am

And if you've developed the skill of "flying", the 3D-ness of the landscape passing beneath you makes for a good 'scanning' mode!
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

fooman
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by fooman » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:25 pm

Using Google Earth Pro (recently made free to use by Google), you can define a polygon at a set distance parallel to the ground. With good 3D data, a height measurement of +\- 1 m is possible. Sometimes the tops of trees are not captured by the method used to get the data, so the height is a minimum, rather than a "actual". A good screening tool. The trees you have shown would be able to be measured reasonably accurately.

Apple's Flyover 3D data is of better quality at the moment, but there is no easy way to query the data.

Cheers,
Matt

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John Harvey
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by John Harvey » Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:55 pm

Matt,
Thanks for the info, Ill try it out. Do you think I could open my .kmz file on Earth Pro? I imagine it uses the same?
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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Lucas
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by Lucas » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:11 am

JohnnyDJersey wrote:Matt,
Thanks for the info, Ill try it out. Do you think I could open my .kmz file on Earth Pro? I imagine it uses the same?
Should be no problem.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Lucas
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by Lucas » Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:25 pm

fooman wrote:Using Google Earth Pro (recently made free to use by Google), you can define a polygon at a set distance parallel to the ground. With good 3D data, a height measurement of +\- 1 m is possible. Sometimes the tops of trees are not captured by the method used to get the data, so the height is a minimum, rather than a "actual". A good screening tool. The trees you have shown would be able to be measured reasonably accurately.

Apple's Flyover 3D data is of better quality at the moment, but there is no easy way to query the data.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 2015CB.gpx

switch to google satellite top right

Is Google Earth Pro any help on this location's steep slopes?

Also is there anything to be determined by the crown colors in this 10/9/2013 image?

Most of the trees are sugar maple, yellow birch with red oak along the trail marked.
Last edited by Lucas on Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Don
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by Don » Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:22 pm

Lucas
It depends on the satellite...much of the earlier satellite imagery was in Panchromatic (Black and White) or False-color InfraRed (appeared to be in normal color, for the most part). The 'mappingsupport' imagery sourcing says Aerial GoogleEarth Satellite...

Along the bottom, is probably the real source, DIGITAL GLOBE, but it is a company of incredible diverse imagery-capturing satellites and airborne platforms. I wasn't able to find enough metadata on your image to provide you with hard data.

That said, it appears to me that the image you've attached is a natural color image of 2-3m resolution, captured in the Fall (10-9-2013) and yes, each of the tree species you saw along the trail, and perhaps others will appear in natural color, for the day the image was taken.

I'm from the Western US so I won't pretend to make intelligent guesses as to color signatures, but your familiarity with the area, the species growing there, and what color each of the species would be at that time, may be as good an index of species on the image
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

fooman
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by fooman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:08 pm

Lucas wrote: Is Google Earth Pro any help on this location's steep slopes?
The software interpolates the ground slope between the nodes of the polygon: The smaller and more nodes you define, the more accurately it follows the ground. As nodes can only define the edge of the polygon, wide polygons tend to have larger errors when the terrain changes sharply.

Unfortunately, with no 3D data for the given location, it is all a bit moot.

Cheers,
Matt
GEPro polygon slope demo.jpg

fooman
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Re: Using Google Earth like Lidar

Post by fooman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:22 pm

I had a play with GE Pro on the trees in the original post. The 3D data hasn't captured the true tops of the trees, reading a bit low. But it is still good for finding relative heights in groups of trees.

Cheers,
Matt
GEPro polygon redwood.jpg

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