Lidar, channel network, fuzzy logic


Research into the use of LiDAR data for purposes other than simple topographic elevation determination, such as urban land cover classification and the identification of forest biomass, has become prominent in recent years. In many cases, alternative analysis methodologies conducted using airborne LiDAR data are possible because the raw data collected during a survey can include information other than the classically used elevation and coordinate points, the X, Y, and Z of the plane. In particular, intensity return values for each point in a LiDAR grid have been found to provide a useful data set for wet and dry channel classification. LiDAR intensity return data are, in essence, a numeric representation of the characteristic light reflectivity of the object being scanned; the more reflective the object is, the higher the intensity return will be. Intensity data points are collected along the course of the channel network and within the perceived banks of the channel. Intensity data do not crisply reflect a perfectly wet or dry condition, but instead vary over a range such that each location can be viewed as partially wet and partially dry. It is advantageous to assess problems of this type using the methods of fuzzy logic. Specifically, the variance in LiDAR intensity return data is such that the use of fuzzy logic to identify intensity cluster centers, and thereby assign wet and dry condition identifiers based on fuzzy memberships, is a possibility. Membership within a fuzzy data set is characterized by a value representing the degree of membership. Typically, membership values range from 0 (representing non-membership) through 1 (representing full membership), with many observations found to be not at either extreme but instead at some intermediate value representing partial membership. The ultimate goal of this research was to design and develop an automated algorithm to identify wet and dry channel sections, given a previously identified channel network based on topographic elevation, using a combination of intensity return values from LiDAR data and fuzzy logic clustering methods, and to implement that algorithm in such a way as to produce reliable multi-class channel segments in ArcGIS. To enable control of calculations, limiting parameters were defined, specifically including the maximum allowable bank slope, and a filtering percentage to more accurately accommodate the study area. Alteration of the maximum allowable bank slope has been shown to affect the comparative quantity of high and low intensity centroids, but only in extreme bank slope conditions are the centroids changed enough to hamper results. However, interference from thick vegetation has been shown to lower intensity values in dry channel sections into the range of a wet channel. The addition of a filtering algorithm alleviates some of the interference, but not all. Overall results of the tool show an effective methodology where basic channel conditions are identified, but refinement of the tool could produce more accurate results.


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Graduation Date





Wang, Dingbao


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering; Water Resources Engineering








Release Date

November 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic