Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

With the advent of new satellite remote sensing technology, particularly the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on board ICESAT, and proposed future missions, such as DESDynI, there is new opportunity to derive information on the vertical structure of vegetation canopies of the utmost relevance to terrestrial ecology applications. The overall science goal of this proposal is to link lidar remote sensing of vegetation structure and ecosystem modeling to improve the characterization and predictability of terrestrial systems for both ecosystem dynamics and associated patterns of biodiversity. In addressing this science goal we will also answer questions of direct relevance to this NRA concerning the development of requirements for space missions focused on the observation of vertical vegetation structure and the ecosystems models that will use these observations. In particular we seek to answer the following three questions: (1) How can patterns of ecosystem structure be observed and modeled at region- to continental- scales using an approach that combines remotely-sensed observations of canopy structure with ecosystem modeling? (2) What are the satellite measurement requirements, derived from ecosystem model requirements, needed to accurately quantify patterns of ecosystem structure and improve model predictions of future dynamics for carbon and biodiversity studies? (3) What are the relationships between bird species richness, vegetation structure and ecosystem productivity at regional to continental-scales? The proposed research falls into five categories: (1) New LVIS flying along important ecosystem gradients, and analysis of existing LVIS data, to assess the relationship between structure and biodiversity at fine scales; (2) Production of North American forest height and 3D structure distributions from ICESAT at various model gird resolutions; (3) development of a continental-scale framework and subsequent modeling of carbon stocks, fluxes and productivity using and ecosystemd model (ED) initialized with ICESAT; (4) validation and sensitivity studies of ED model outputs of carbon stock, flux and productivity to variations in vertical canopy structure inputs at different spatial scales to determine measurement requirements for carbon and biodiversity studies; (5) application of the derived and modeled products along LVIS gradients, and continentally using ICESAT/ED in national scale assessments of structure, productivity and biodiversity. This proposal directly addresses Sub-element 1 of the this NRA, vegetation 3-D structure, biomass and disturbance, and Sub-element 2, integrative studies. In the first case, we will explore (a) how ecosystem models will use structure measurements from space, and (b) how these model requirements then determine measurement requirements of vegetation structure for DESDynI or ICESATII. With regards to Integrative Studies, our research brings together work on ecosystem modeling, remote sensing of vegetation structure and biodiversity to answer important questions outlined in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s (CCSP’s) carbon cycle and ecosystems program with regards to the controls on continental scale distributions of species richness and abundance. In particular, this research lays the required groundwork for addressing the effects of future land use and climate change on biodiversity, a priority area for the CCSP.

Project PI: Ralph Dubayah/University of Maryland

Department of Geography, 2181 LeFrak Hall, University of Maryland, College Park MD 20742

Phone: (301)405-4069

Fax: (301)314-9299



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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 10, 2010


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