Category: Alan Strahler

Alan Strahler receives NSF grant for a Research Coordination Network to advance applications of terrestrial laser scanning for vegetation study

May 11th, 2015 in 2015, Alan Strahler, Curtis Woodcock, Faculty, Grants, Lucy Hutyra, May-15

Alan Strahler

Alan Strahler

Prof. Alan Strahler has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled “RCN-IDBR: Coordinating the Development of Terrestrial Lidar Scanning for Forest Carbon Inventory and Ecological Applications.” The award supports a Research Coordination Network to develop a simple, low-cost, tripod-mounted terrestrial laser scanner that can rapidly survey a forest stand and automatically provide an accurate measurement of the amount of aboveground biomass contained within the stand. Such information is essential for studies of the carbon cycle and measurement of mitigation of anthropogenic increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. A second network activity identifies and develops other new applications of this and similar laser scanners in forest ecology and related fields.

The research network includes researchers from the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, and other nations who are presently working with commercial and research-built terrestrial lidar scanners to study vegetation and forest ecology. Network activities include workshops to bring lidar builders, users, and ecologists together; smaller technology developer’s meetings; exchanges of graduate students or researchers between laboratories; and laboratory and field standardization and intercomparison activities.

Curtis Woodcock

Curtis Woodcock

Lucy Hutyra

Lucy Hutyra

Co-investigators include EE Professors Curtis Woodcock and Lucy Hutyra; UMass Boston Professor Crystal Schaaf; and UMass Professor Supriya Chakrabarti. The project will run for five years, supported at about $100K/yr.

Former Research Professor Xiaowen Li Passes Away

January 23rd, 2015 in 2015, Alan Strahler, Curtis Woodcock, Faculty, Jan-15, News, Researchers

Former Geography Research Professor Xiaowen Li succumbed to illness in Beijing on January 10th at the age of 67. Working closely with Professors Alan Strahler, Curtis Woodcock, and Crystal Schaaf, Professor Li developed a succession of physical models of directional reflectance of forest land cover that saw wide use in land remote sensing. He was also the primary architect of the algorithms underlying the MODIS BRDF/Albedo product. Soon after the MODIS launch, Professor Li transitioned to Beijing Normal University (BNU), where he held the rank of Professor and Dean in the School of Geography, and most recently served there as the Director of the Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems Research Center. He also served as the Director of the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications of the Chinese Academy of Science from 2002-2008, and was the Principal Investigator for several important Key Projects in remote sensing supported by the Chinese Academy of Science under the five-year planning mechanism.

Professor Li’s contributions were recognized with his appointment as Academician of the Chinese Academy of Science in 2001. He also received several prestigious science prizes from that academy and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in China.

In contributions to Boston University, Professor Li served as the liaison for an academic exchange program in remote sensing between BU and Beijing Normal, which brought BNU doctoral students to BU. He also generously endowed a fund within the Department of Geography and Environment for assistance to the exchange students.

He is survived by his widow, Wu Chuanqi, and his two daughters, Li Jie and Li Zhung, who reside in the United States.

In recent years, Professor Li’s quiet and self-effacing demeanor, unusual for an Academician, was recognized through social media and earned him the title of the “Cloth Shoes Academician.” Here follows two translations of media reports on his death, kindly provided by Dr. David Jupp of CSIRO, Australia, also a friend and colleague of Professor Li. Text and photographs of Professor Li’s funeral are posted on the web site


Translated From:

The “Cloth Shoes” Academician, Li Xiaowen has passed away. From now on the “Humble Sage”1 is no longer with us 

This popular web based image of Academician Li Xiaowen was taken on April 18, 2014 as he delivered a lecture at the Chinese Academy of Sciences university. From his plain monastic dress, unkempt beard and cloth shoes, it is clear how he has become the "Teacher Immortal." (

This popular web based image of Academician Li Xiaowen was taken on April 18, 2014 as he delivered a lecture at the Chinese Academy of Sciences university. From his plain monastic dress, unkempt beard and cloth shoes, it is clear how he has become the “Teacher Immortal.” (Source)


On the 10th [of January 2014], the reporter learned from the web that Academician Li Xiaowen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of the Centre for Geographic Information at Beijing Normal University, also known popularly as the “Cloth Shoes Academician”, had passed away in Beijing.

Brief summary of academic achievements:

Academician Li Xiaowen graduated from the Chengdu Academy of Telecommunications Engineering in [Sichuan Province, China in] 1968. In 1985 he achieved Master and PhD degrees in Geographic Science, and Master in Computer and Electronic Engineering [in the US] at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has been Head of the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Dean and Teaching Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment at Beijing Normal

University. [At the University] He was The Great River Meritorious Professor2, specializing in the fundamental theory of remote sensing science. He is originator of the Li-Strahler geometrical optics model which has been recognised by the International Society for Optical Engineering [SPIE] as a “Landmark achievement”, and he has achieved great fame at home and abroad in Remote Sensing Science.

In 2014, a report and photograph of Academician Li Xiaowen, with his plain and simple clothing and footwear, became popular on the Web, with some Netizens3 feeling that Li Xiaowen looked like a “Humble Sage”: [eg] “with humble demeanour but who from a seemingly inconspicuous role, displayed amazing gifts and brought about miraculous achievements.”


Related Report:

The Cloth Shoes Academician gives a lecture at University – the Weibo Netizens “Humble Sage”

Wearing plain and simple monastic dress, without socks, and wearing black cloth shoes, with thin features, grizzled hair and straggling beard, 67 year old Academician Li Xiaowen sits lecturing his works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences University. His humble presence is “like that of an immortal Sage”: Since the end of 1970, Li Xiaowen has been engaged in research into the area of Geography and Remote Sensing Information Science. He was originator of the Li-Strahler Geo-Optical Model, which was selected by the International Society for Optical Engineering [SPIE] as a “Landmark achievement”. The research achievements he and his team have made have advanced the development of quantitative remote sensing science, and made China one of the leaders in the field of quantitative Remote Sensing Science.


1 Literally, “the sweeping monk”. A monk sweeping the temple yard is in the position of a lowly person and emphasises virtuous unimportance. Apparent unimportance brings little fame and recognition but they are of little importance to a monk.

2 As Great River Professor, Li Xiaowen would have been used to the endless noise of the apes on the banks as he drifted from Baidi City through endless mountains of new ideas.

3 It is wonderful that people in the social media age, where your value is measured by number of friends multiplied the number of likes, can value unimportance, it is also wonderful they recognised the true nature of Li Xiaowen behind the picture.





Alan Strahler, GE 502 celebrate Strahler’s Last Class

December 11th, 2014 in 2014, Alan Strahler, Curtis Woodcock, Dec-14, Faculty, Graduate students, Pictures


Earth & Environment Professor Alan Strahler along with family, friends, and students celebrate the end of the semester and Strahler’s final class as an active Professor at Boston University.


Our department Administrative Coordinator Fred George was there to photograph the special occasion. Check out his pictures below.



Alan Strahler, left, and Curtis Woodcock showing off their festive spirits.




Strahler addresses the party as his wife, Kristi, and Prof. Woodcock look on.





Strahler poses with colleagues Crystal Schaaf and Curtis Woodcock.



Strahler and his wife Kristi




Strahler’s students enjoying the event.




Graduate students celebrating Strahler’s tenure with champagne.




Strahler’s students enjoy the party.




Students waiting for the party to get started.




Graduate Student Paulo Arevalo, front right, smiles for the camera as the party unfolds.



Qingsong Sun’s Dissertation Defense set for tomorrow at 2 pm in CAS 132

August 5th, 2014 in 2014, Alan Strahler, Aug-14, Faculty, Graduate students, Talks

Earth & Environment Ph.D. candidate Qingsong Sun is set to defend his dissertation tomorrow, Wednesday August 6th, at 2 pm in CAS 132.

Sun’s dissertation is titled “Assessing Change in the Earth’s Land Surface Albedo with Moderate Resolution Satellite Imagery.”

All are encouraged to attend and support Qingsong as he completes his Ph.D.

Sun is advised by Prof. Alan Strahler and Research Professor Crystal Schaaf.

Friday December 13th AGU Talk Schedule for Faculty, Researchers, and Students

December 12th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, December-13, Ethan Baxter, Events, Faculty, Graduate students, Lucy Hutyra, Mark Friedl, Researchers, Talks, Trips

Below is a list of scheduled talks being held on Friday December 13th 2013 by Department of Earth and Environment Faculty, Researchers, and students at the AGU Fall Meeting.




8:00 am to 10:00 am

at 3008 (Moscone West)

A51I. A51I. Measurements, Modeling, and Evaluation of Emissions VII

  • Conor Gately; Lucy Hutyra; Ian Sue Wing. A new gridded on-road CO2 emissions inventory for the United States, 1980-2011. A51I-06. (9:35 – 10:00)

at 3003 (Moscone West)

  • Lucy Hutyra; Steve M. Raciti; Allison L. Dunn; Conor Gately; Ian Sue Wing; Curtis Woodcock; Pontus Olofsson; Mark A. Friedl. Impacts of urbanization on the carbon cycle (Invited). GC51E-02. (8:20 – 8:40)

8:00 am to 12:20 pm

at Hall A-C (Moscone South)

B51C. B51C. Ecosystem Structure: Remote Sensing Observations and Modelling of Its Influence on Radiation Regimes and Gas Exchanges II Posters

  • Zhan Li; Alan H. Strahler, Crystal Schaff, et al. Separating Leaves from Trunks and Branches with Dual-Wavelength Terrestrial Lidar Scanning: Improving Canopy Structure Characterization in 3-D Space. B51C-0289.
  • Alan H. Strahler; Xiaoyuan Yang; Zhan Li; Crystal Schaaf; et al. Retrieving Leaf Area Index and Foliage Profiles Through Voxelized 3-D Forest Reconstruction Using Terrestrial Full-Waveform and Dual-Wavelength Echidna® Lidars. B51C-0290.

B51G. B51G. Phenology as Both Forcing and Response: Integrating Measurements and Models Across Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems I Posters [SWIRL_CM]

  • Toni Viskari; Michael Dietze; Ankur R. DesaiModel-data assimilation of multiple phenological observations to constrain and forecast leaf area. B51G-0381.

S51A. S51A. Seismology Contributions: Signal Processing, Networks and Instrumentation II Posters

  • Bruce C. Beaudoin; Kasey Aderhold; Katyliz Anderson; Mary Pfeifer; Tim Parker; Pnina E. Miller; George W. Slad; Angela Reusch. Direct burial and vault emplacement data quality comparison at Dotson Ranch, New Mexico. S51A-2329.

S51C. S51C. Oceanic Strike-Slip Faulting: Transforms to Intraplate I Posters

  • Kasey Aderhold; Rachel E. Abercrombie; Michael S. Antolik. Seismic slip of oceanic strike-slip earthquakes. S51C-2388.

V51B. V51B. Garnet: Common Mineral, Uncommonly Useful I Posters (cosponsored by MSA)

  • Nora Sullivan; Claire Ostwald; Xu Chu; Ethan F. Baxter; Jay J. Ague; James O. Eckert. High temperature garnet growth in New England: regional temperature-time trends revealed. V51B-2654.
  • Kathryn A. Eccles; Ethan F. Baxter; Stephen J. Mojzsis; Horst Marschall; Michael L. Williams; Michael J. Jercinovic. Neoarchean metamorphism recorded in high-precision Sm-Nd isotope systematics of garnets from the Jack Hills (Western Australia). V51B-2655.


10:20 am – 12:20 pm

at 2006 (Moscone West)

B52C. B52C. New Mechanisms, Feedbacks, and Approaches for Improving Predictions of the Global Carbon Cycle in Earth System Models II [SWIRL_CU]

  • Adrien Finzi; Allison L. Gill (BIOLOGY). The carbon cost of nutrient uptake: global patterns and use in regional to global scale models of terrestrial productivity. B52C-01. (10:20 – 10:35)


1:40 pm – 3:40 pm

at 2004 (Moscone West)

B53G. B53G. Remote Sensing of Vegetation for Monitoring Ecosystem Functioning III

  • Mark A. Friedl; Joshua P. Gray; Eli K. Melaas; Andrew D. Richardson; Amey Bailey; John O’KeefeUsing Time Series of Landsat, MODIS, and Ground Measurements to Characterize and Quantify the Sensitivity of Temperate Forest Phenology to Climate Change (Invited). B53G-01. (1:40 – 1:55)

at 301 (Moscone South)

V53D. V53D. Garnet: Common Mineral, Uncommonly Useful II (cosponsored by MSA)

  • Ethan F. Baxter; Erik E. SchererThe success and complementarity of Sm-Nd and Lu-Hf garnet geochronology. V53D-08. (3:25-3:40)


Faculty, Researchers, Students speak at AGU Fall Meeting

December 9th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, December-13, Events, Faculty, Graduate students, Guido Salvucci, Michael Dietze, Talks, Trips

Several members of the Department of Earth and Environment will be in San Francisco, California this week participating in the annual AGU Fall Meeting.

During this week long conference, several faculty members, researchers, and students will give lectures and present posters.

Below is a list of presentations being given by members of the department today, Monday December 9th, 2013.



8:00 am – 12:20 am 

at Hall A-C (Moscone South)

B11E. B11E. Model Intercomparisons: Syntheses That Inform Scientific Understanding I Posters [SWIRL_CU]

  • Jaclyn H. Matthes; Michael Dietze; Simon J. Goring.  Representations of historic vegetation dynamics in CMIP5 and MsTMIP models.  B11E-0401.

B11G. B11G. Scaling Ecosystem Observations Through Space and Time I Posters

  • SUNGHO CHOI; Yuli Shi; Xiliang Ni; Marc Simard; Ranga B. Myneni. Allometric Scaling and Resource Limitations Model of Total Aboveground Biomass in Forest Stands: Site-scale Test of Model. B11G-0429.
  •  Alan H. Strahler; et al. Intercomparison of Terrestrial Laser Scanning Instruments for Assessing Forested Ecosystems: A Brisbane Field Experiment. B11G-0443.
  • Crystal Schaaf; et al. Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL) Acquisitions at NEON and TERN Forest Sites. B11G-0449.

PP11B. PP11B. Aeolian Dust in Earth’s Climate System I Posters [SWIRL_DA]

  • Ann G. Dunlea; Richard W. Murray; Justine Sauvage; Arthur J. Spivack; Robert N. Harris; Steven L. D’Hondt.  Cenozoic sedimentation rates and provenance variations in the South Pacific Gyre. PP11B-1816.

T11B. T11B. Deep Exploration Into the Lithosphere I Posters

  • Esther James; Colleen A. Dalton; James B. Gaherty.  Imaging the Atlantic upper mantle with Rayleigh waves.  T11B-2430.

8:00 am to 10 am

at 2011 (Moscone West)

H11L. H11L. Advances in Understanding Land-Atmosphere Interactions I [SWIRL_GS

  • Guido Salvucci; Angela J. Rigden; Pierre Gentine; Benjamin R. Lintner.  Unique relation between surface-limited evaporation and relative humidity profiles holds in both field data and climate model simulations. H11L-03.  (8:46 – 9:04)

10:20 am to 12:20 pm

at 2006 (Moscone West)

B12C. B12C. Emerging Frontiers in Biogeosciences II

  • Michael Dietze.  Impact of diffuse mortality in a terrestrial biosphere model: stress, succession, and disease (Invited).  B12C-04.  (11:05 – 11:20)

10:20 am to 12:20 pm

at 306 (Moscone South)

V12A. V12A. The Geoinformatics Revolution: Data-Driven Science, Databases, and Data Systems for Thermodynamics and Geochemical and Geophysical Modeling I [SWIRL_CM] (cosponsored by EGU-GMPV and MSA)

  • Colleen A. Dalton; Allison Gale; Charles H. Langmuir. Taking the temperature of the mantle: A global comparison of seismic models, axial ridge depths, and the petrology of mid-ocean-ridge basalts (Invited). V12A-07. (11:50 – 12:05)

1:40 pm – 6:00 pm

at Hall A-C (Moscone South)

B13C. B13C. Deep Biosphere Research: Presence, Diversity, and Activity of Microbes I Posters

  • Mary E. Dzaugis; Arthur J. Spivack; Ann G. Dunlea; Richard W. Murray; Katherine A. Kelley; Steven L. D’Hondt.  Radiolytic hydrogen production in basaltic basement of the South Pacific Gyre. B13C-0486.

4:00 pm – 4:45 pm

at 3009 (Moscone West)

  • Valeriy Y. Ivanov; Lucy Hutyra; Steven C. Wofsy; J W. Munger; Scott R. Saleska; Raimundo Cosme De Oliveira Jr.; Plinio B. Camargo; Simone Fatichi. Root Niche Separation as Strategy of Avoidance of Seasonal Drought Stress in a Mature Amazonian Forest (Invited). H14D-03. (4:30 – 4:45)


Alan Strahler joins colleagues in scanning California forests in support of NEON

October 17th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, Faculty, October-13, Trips

Alan Strahler joined colleagues from UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, and Rochester Institute of Technology in a field terrestrial lidar deployment of the Dual Wavelength Echidna Lidar (DWEL), Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL), and RIT Terrestrial Lidar (RITTL) to Fresno, California, from June 9-17. where they scanned vegetated sites and made additional vegetation measurements in support of a NEON aircraft campaign. Data were acquired from high- and mid-elevation stands in the Sequoia National Forest as well as shrublands in the foothills near Fresno.

Alan Strahler and Zhan Li attend International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Melbourne

October 17th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, Faculty, Graduate students, Meeting, October-13, Talks, Trips

Alan Strahler and graduate student Zhan Li attended the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, July 21-26, and presented oral papers entitled, “Studying Canopy Structure Through 3-D Reconstruction of Point Clouds from Full-Waveform Terrestrial Lidar,” and “Separating Leaves from Trunks and Branches With Dual-Wavelength Terrestrial Lidar Scanning,” respectively. Over 1300 scientists from 66 countries attended the event, sponsored by the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society.

Alan Strahler leads terrestrial lidar scanning field experiment in Brisbane

October 17th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, Faculty, October-13, Trips

Alan Strahler led group of students and scientists from BU, University of Massachusetts Boston, and University of Massachusetts Lowell, to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, for a week of terrestrial lidar scanning with the Dual Wavelength Echidna Lidar (DWEL) instrument and UMass Boston’s Canopy Biomass Lidar (CBL) instrument. The event, held from July 28 to August 3, was arranged through a collaboration with the Terrestrial Laser Scanning International Interest Group and co-hosted by the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation, and the Arts and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In addition to the DWEL and CBL, three other instruments scanned the same sites, as part of a plan to intercompare both research and commercial terrestrial laser scanners for a variety of applications in ecology and forestry.

Alan Strahler gives keynote address at opening session of SilivLaser 2013, Beijing

October 17th, 2013 in 2013, Alan Strahler, Faculty, Meeting, October-13, Talks, Trips

Alan Strahler gave a keynote address in the opening session of SilivLaser 2013 entitled “Terrestrial Laser Scanning in Forestry and Ecology: Present Status and Future Directions.” The meeting brings together scientists and researchers using lidar scanning and imaging for forest research and management applications. Alternating between North American and international locations, the meeting was held this year in Beijing, China, October 9-11.