Airborne laser swath mapping shines new light on Earth's topography


  • William Carter,

    1. University of Florida, Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, Division of GeoSensing Systems Engineering, Gainesville, Fla., USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ramesh Shrestha,

  • Grady Tuell,

  • David Bloomquist,

  • Michael Sartori


Airborne Laser Swath Mapping (ALSM) now makes it possible to delineate the physical features of the surface of Earth on spatial scales as fine as a few decimeters horizontally and a few centimeters vertically As a result, Earth scientists may finally be able to answer long-standing scientific questions about such surficial processes as erosion, faulting, volcanism, and plate motion. Information on surface relief, drainage patterns, and vegetation, critical to understanding the evolution of ecologically sensitive areas, can be collected over hundreds of square kilometers in a period of days. Information collected by ALSM can also be used to address a wide variety of engineering issues, such as developing and managing natural resources7semi; mitigating the impacts of such natural disasters as floods, hurricanes, tornados, landslides, and sinkholes; and building and maintaining transportation infrastructure.