Slope Estimation from ICESat/GLAS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We present a novel technique to infer ground slope angle from waveform LiDAR, known as the independent slope method (ISM). The technique is applied to large footprint waveforms (similar to 60 m mean diameter) from the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) to produce a slope dataset of near-global coverage at 0.5 degrees x 0.5 degrees resolution. ISM slope estimates are compared against high resolution airborne LiDAR slope measurements for nine sites across three continents. ISM slope estimates compare better with the aircraft data (R-2 = 0.87 and RMSE = 5.16 degrees) than the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Digital Elevation Model (SRTM DEM) inferred slopes (R-2 = 0.71 and RMSE = 8.69 degrees). ISM slope estimates are concurrent with GLAS waveforms and can be used to correct biophysical parameters, such as tree height and biomass. They can also be fused with other DEMs, such as SRTM, to improve slope estimates.


  • Craig Mahoney
  • Natascha Kljun
  • Sietse O. Los
  • Laura Chasmer
  • Jorg M. Hacker
  • Christopher Hopkinson
  • Peter R. J. North
  • Jacqueline A. B. Rosette
  • Eva van Gorsel
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • LiDAR, slope, terrain, waveform, SRTM, biophysical parameter retrieval
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10051-10069
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch