Public Lab Research note

Canopy structure and function of tropical forests in Peru

by allie_shenkin | July 13, 2013 15:40 13 Jul 15:40 | #8868 | #8868

What I want to do

Float a balloon over a number of 1-ha permanent forest plots along an elevation transect in Peru. I plan to use point-and-shoots and Photoscan to derive 3-D scenes of the plot. If possible, I would also like to float a FLIR IR camera over the plots. I will float over a few points in each plot to have enough data to derive 3D scenes.

We will have LiDAR and T-LiDAR data for the plots as well, so this will be a good test case for the performance of DIY balloon-mapping methods in tropical forests.

My attempt and results


Questions and next steps

I have the balloon kit and a Canon SD870 with CHDK and an intervalometer script. I've seen the instructions for the PET bottle camera rig. I plan to use big trees and other landmarks for registration with LiDAR data. Anything else to consider?


Wow. Is this continuous forest? It sounds like you are going to launch the balloon through a few different canopy gaps to get coverage of each plot. Or are there towers at these plots? The balloon will have to be well above the canopy (including the emergent trees) to capture a good portion of the plot, so you will need lots of line. I guess if the wind speed above the canopy is anything other than zero, it will be very hard to get the balloon back down through a gap. The Public Lab balloon kit neoprene balloon is not very good at rubbing against things like twigs without popping. This is going to be an exciting expedition.

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hi cfastie,

yeah, continuous forest, but really there's no such thing. Plenty of gaps to work with, but really good to know the balloons don't put up with much abuse. I'll pick up some extras. I've been discussing the project with some of the ecosynth folks here:

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Wow, sounds like a very cool possibility for using an infragram camera.

Do you have a google map or other map of your intended route?

Thanks for posting!

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Hi Warren,

You can find more info about the transect here:

An NIR cam would be cool indeed, though I'm hoping to get a FLIR up there at some point.

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