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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Mapping Hidden Landscapes

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, July 9, 2018/Categories: natural history, space science, sustainability, environment, adventure

LiDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, and Ranging) continues producing maps of hidden landscapes never seen before. The maps are amazing. Previously, our journal discussed the power of this new laser-scanning technology. Uses of LiDAR are limited only by the imagination but so far include: geography, geology, archaeology, geomorphology, forestry, seismology, atmospheric science, and underwater scanning.

Researchers with Washington State's Department of Natural Resources used LiDAR to map historical landslides in the State's mountains. According to their announement,

"Washington is one of the most landslide-prone states in the country, with hundreds to thousands of events each year. The direct cost of landslide damage includes roads, property repairs, and loss of life. Indirect costs include loss of property value and tax revenue, and environmental effects such as degradation of water quality that can exceed direct costs."

LiDAR's unique power is that it can expose the land under trees and other vegetation. Part of the laser's light penetrates the vegetation and returns to the sensor, can be filtered from general scanning data, and thereby provide a map of the land beneath the trees. A high school student could understand comparison maps showing what was hidden under the forests.

   Washington State Mountain Forests (credit: Google-Earth)              LiDAR Landslide Mapping of Same Mountains (WDNR)



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