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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

The extensive forests of the northeastern United States have been identified as one of the highest forest carbon producing areas in the country (Milbrandt, 2005), capable of producing an estimated 1.1 million dry tons of biomass annually (Perlack et al., 2005). Despite this tremendous carbon potential, there is still substantial uncertainty due to increased forest harvest intensities, altered forest management activities, vulnerability to natural disturbance like spruce budworm, and the influence of a changing climate. In particular, Maine, the most forested state in the US (90%) and has the largest contiguous block of privately-owned commercial forestland (4 million ha) in the nation, has seen drastic changes in forest carbon due to an array of factors. Some of the most important include a change in policies that govern forest management, shift of ownership from corporation to financial investors, and the lasting effects of a severe spruce budworm outbreak in the 1980s. This has created a complex landscape that varies drastically in forest species composition and age structure. Building off of previous NASA funding, this project proposes to use an innovative and automated technique to map past forest harvest activities and characterize the current composition and age class structure using remotely sensed information. These techniques will be used to create the necessary information to initialize a spatially-dependent landscape simulation system for a representative and extensive area in Maine (4 million ha). Simulations of various alternative future scenarios will be conducted that account for the various factors that will influence carbon dynamics and system sensitivity will be assessed. In addition to carbon, the future scenarios will be assessed for their impact on biodiversity, wood fiber supply, and other landscape spatial metrics. The project will provide a robust and flexible technique for using remote sense data to inform a landscape simulation system that can be extended other regions. In particular, the project will identify the influence of forest management activities and land use change on forest carbon, which will help clarify the most effective methods for improving the forest carbon balance in the future.

Project PI: Aaron Weiskittel/University of Maine/USDA Funded

School of Forest Resources 5755 Nutting Hall The University of Maine Orono, ME 04469-5755

Phone: (207)581-2857

Fax: (207) 581-2875

Email: aaron.weiskittel@umit.maine.edu

http://www.forest.umaine.edu/facstaff/facstaff_pages/Weiskittel/index.html

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Started: Jan 24, 2011

Last Activity: Mar 23, 2011

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