Accurate measurement of stem diameter is essential to forest inventory. As a millimeter-level measuring tool, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has not yet reached millimeter-level accuracy in stem diameter measurements. The objective of this study is to develop an accurate method for deriving the stem diameter from TLS data. The methodology of stem diameter measurement by diameter tape was adopted. The stem cross-section at a given height along the stem was determined. Stem points for stem diameter retrieval were extracted according to the stem cross-section. Convex hull points of the extracted stem points were calculated in a projection plane. Then, a closed smooth curve was interpolated onto the convex hull points to simulate the path of the diameter tape, and stem diameter was calculated based on the length of the simulated path. The stems of different tree species with different properties were selected to verify the presented method. Compared with the field-measured diameter, the RMSE of the method was 0.0909 cm, which satisfies the accuracy requirement for forest inventory. This study provided a method for determining the stem cross-section and an efficient and precise curve fitting method for deriving stem diameter from TLS data. The importance of the stem cross-section and convex hull points in stem diameter retrieval was demonstrated.
You, L., Tang, S., Song, X., Lei, Y., Zang, H., Lou, M., & Zhuang, C. (2016). Precise measurement of stem diameter by simulating the path of diameter tape from terrestrial laser scanning data. Remote Sensing, 8(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8090717