Wednesday, 08 September 2021
Charles Darwin University
E-news
CDU researcher Linda Luck uses innovative technology to build 3D models of trees to understand effects of climate change and land management on the savanna.
CDU researcher Linda Luck uses innovative technology to build 3D models of trees to understand effects of climate change and land management on the savanna.

Researcher uses 3D modelling to measure biomass of trees for carbon monitoring

Researcher and PhD student Linda Luck is providing valuable data for carbon monitoring through a scanning technology that generates digital 3D models of trees.

Ms Luck is from the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at Charles Darwin University (CDU), where she is investigating how the biomass of savanna trees varies in time and space.

The scanner uses laser beams to produce precise 3D modelling used to calculate the biomass of trees, which can be useful for carbon accounting applications such as prescribed burning to capture and store carbon dioxide or to better understand the global carbon cycle.

“The technology I use is called terrestrial LiDAR, which stands for laser scanning and ranging. It’s essentially using a laser beam to measure the distance to the nearest object, but it does so millions of times for each scan,” Ms Luck said.

“The 3D models give a very detailed look so we can get a better idea of the structure of individual trees. If you’ve never seen the data, you can picture it like a 3D computer game with very detailed renderings – only these ones are based on real trees.”

“Currently, I am investigating how we can use LiDAR to better quantify the above-ground biomass in our trees and monitor change over time.”

According to Ms Luck, the scanning device can be used broadly in many industries.

“It’s used in industries like horticulture, archaeology, architecture and mining. It is used to determine the dimensions of objects. From that I can calculate the volume and based on the density of the wood the biomass and the carbon content.”

“This technology has a lot of potential. Knowing the challenge that the Northern Territory faces in quantifying the amount of carbon in the environment, it can really make a change,” Ms Luck said.