Forest Ecosystem Dynamics Project, Biospheric Sciences Branch, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division, Science and Exploration Directorate, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

Data Center Description
The Forest Ecosystem Dynamics (FED) Project at GSFC is concerned with modeling and monitoring ecosystem processes and patterns in response to natural and anthropogenic effects. The project uses coupled ecosystem models and remote sensing models and measurements to predict and observe ecosystem change. An important consideration in the northern/boreal forest ecosystems that we are addressing is the influence of spatial heterogeneity on process scaling and the expression of that heterogeneity in remote sensing imagery. The overall objective of the FED Project is to use models of forest dynamics, soil processes and canopy energetics to understand how ecosystem response to change affects patterns and processes in northern and boreal forests and to assess the implications for global change. The approach is to use coupled submodels of forest, soils, and energy processes to predict ecosystem response in terms of forest growth (e.g., biomass, LAI, NPP attributes ) and development (i.e., species composition change over time). There is also a significant role in the project for remote sensing research to relate ecosystem response to observable scene attributes.

The project presently is focused on high latitude areas including northern hardwood and evergreen Boreal forests. These forests are susceptible to climate change, are under increasing harvesting pressure for lumber and paper, and are widely disturbed by wildfires. Climate change could have potentially large effects in these areas by driving changes in forest composition and structure and soil properties which, in turn, could alter carbon balance and albedo across the circumpolar boreal forest. Complicating the understanding of how northern forests would respond to change is the large variability in forest composition and structure across the landscape. This variability is largely the result of variations from soil properties and local topography, but also occur from wildfire and human activities

To understand these effects, the project uses ecosystem models including gap-type forest succession models with improved species specific physiology; soil physics and snow models with moisture and temperature routines; and canopy-soil energetics models that describe the intra- and extra-canopy radiation fluxes. These models are either currently in a spatially explicit format or are being developed. To relate forest attributes to ground-based, airborne and spaceborne optical and microwave sensors we use remote sensing models including one, two and three dimensional optical, thermal and microwave scattering models. The models can be configured to operate at local to regional scales (i.e., 101 - 105 m). The combination of ecosystem and remote sensing models provide a mechanism for testing process level attributes important for regional and coarser scales models.

Unique capabilities available for the FED Project include a modeling environment designed to couple forest, soils and canopy energy dynamics models, a biogeochemical model that combines population dynamics and physiological processes for diverse species, recently developed forest growth and remote sensing models with three-dimensional structure, and extensive field and remote sensing data sets developed at Maine under the FED project and in Canada under BOREAS. These tools allow us to quantify differences between models designed for different spatial and temporal scales, as well as the effects of spatial resolution, per se.


[Summary provided by NASA.]

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