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Using ground-based LIDAR surveys to estimate Amazon forest canopy structure, biomass, and carbon fluxes

Geoffrey G. Parker, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, parkerg@si.edu (Presenting)
Scott R Saleska, University of Arizona, saleska@email.arizona.edu
J. Leddick, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, leddickj@si.edu
Joost van Haren, University of Arizona, jvanhare@email.arizona.edu
Elizabeth Hammond Pyle, Harvard University, pyle@fas.harvard.edu
Lucy R. Hutyra, Harvard University, lhutyra@fas.harvard.edu
Greg Santoni, Teach for America, gsantoni@gmail.com
Plinio Camargo, USP - CENA, pcamargo@cena.usp.br

The present-day status of Amazonian forests remains very poorly characterized, with significant uncertainties associated not only with deforestation, but also with intact forests. The literature vigorously debates whether reports of substantial carbon uptake in study plots present sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis that primary forests of the Amazon have a landscape-scale carbon balance of zero, and recent work suggests that plot-level Amazon forest carbon balance is acutely sensitive to local disturbance history (e.g., time since the formation of the treefall gaps), implying that inferences of Amazon-wide uptake could be wrong if disturbed areas experiencing large carbon loses have been undersampled. LIDAR remote sensing methods have the potential to decisively address this question by large-scale sampling of forest disturbance patterns. We tested the feasibility of this approach by comparing ground-based surveys of forest canopy structure (using a portable LIDAR instrument) with biomass and components of carbon balance in spatially distributed network of survey plots in the Tapajós Forest near Santarém Brazil. We found correlations between LIDAR-derived indices of canopy structure and direct observations of biomass and components of carbon balance, suggesting that aircraft or satellite-based remote sensing LIDAR surveys could help resolve questions about Amazon carbon balance.

Science Theme:  CD (Carbon Dynamics)

Session:  3C: Vegetation Structure and Disturbance

Presentation Type:  Oral

Abstract ID: 123

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