Current laser scanning (Lidar, light detection and ranging) technologies span a wide range of survey extent and resolutions, from regional airborne Lidar mapping and terrestrial Lidar field surveys to laboratory systems utilizing indoor three-dimensional (3D) laser scanners. Proliferation in Lidar technology and data collection enables new approaches for monitoring and analysis of landscape evolution. For example, repeat Lidar surveys that generate a time series of point cloud data provide an opportunity to transition from traditional, static representations of topography to terrain abstraction as a 3D dynamic layer. Three case studies are presented to illustrate novel techniques for landscape evolution analysis based on time series of Lidar data: (1) application of multiyear airborne Lidar surveys to a study of a dynamic coastal region, where the change is driven by eolian sediment transport, wave-induced beach erosion, and human intervention; (2) monitoring of vegetation growth and the impact of landscape structure on overland flow in an agricultural field using terrestrial laser scanning; and (3) investigation of landscape design impacts on overland water flow and other physical processes using a tangible geospatial modeling system. The presented studies demonstrate new insights into landscape evolution in different environments that can be gained from Lidar scanning spanning 1.0–0.001 m resolutions with geographic information system analysis capabilities.
- Received 31 March 2011.
- Revision received 2 August 2011.
- Accepted 17 August 2011.
- © 2011 Geological Society of America