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The picture below from Fernandez-Diaz (2011) might help complementing Aaron's answer. Lidar returns are discrete observations* recorded when a laser pulse is intercepted and reflected by targets. Multiple returns derive from one laser pulse intercepting multiple targets (e.g. a top of a tree, its branches, and the ground). *such as coordinates x, y and z; ...


ESRI has a pretty good help section on LiDAR (below). For more formal details on LiDAR, I would recommend the following books: Topographic Laser Ranging and Scanning: Principles and Processing Airborne and Terrestrial Laser Scanning Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation LiDAR Laser Returns Laser pulses emitted from a lidar system reflect from ...

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