Remote Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): Development of a real time decision support system for the eastern U.S.


PARTNERS:
USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory

SUMMARY: The southern U.S. has experienced significant droughts over the past several years that have increased the susceptibility of southern forest ecosystems to insect outbreaks, disease, and wildfire. Weather data collected with traditional approaches provide an indirect measure of drought or temperature stress; however, the significance of short-term or prolonged climate-related stress varies considerably across the landscape as topography, elevations, edaphic (soil) conditions, and antecedent conditions vary. This limits the capacity of land managers to anticipate and initiate ecosystem-specific management activities that could offset the impacts of climate-related forest stress. In addition, drier and warmer conditions predicted with climate change models are likely to significantly impact forest ecosystems over the next several decades.

Decision support tools are needed that allow fine scale monitoring of stress conditions in forest ecosystems in real time to help land managers evaluate ecosystem-specific response strategies. Researchers are developing a stress monitoring and decision support system across multiple sites and ecosystems in the eastern U.S. that: (1) provides remote data capture of environmental parameters that quantify climate-related forest stress across the network of sites, (2) links remotely captured data with physiologically-based indices of tree water stress, and (3) provides a personal computer-based analytical tool that allows land managers to monitor and assess the severity of climate-related stress in specific ecosystems. 

EFETAC'S ROLE: This project is supported with EFETAC funding.

STATUS: Ongoing

PROGRESS: Nine cooperating sites are currently transmitting data every hour. A tenth site in Reynolds Homestead in Critz, VA will be installed in March, 2012.

Algorithms have been developed in MATLAB (Mathworks, Natick, MA, USA) to permit real-time processing of sap flux, micrometeorological, and edaphic data. A preliminary analysis has explored the utility of two modeling approaches to identify periods of tree water stress; the first relates transpiration rate to meteorological drivers, and the second takes advantage of recent advancements in stomatal optimization theory for plant water use.

Results have been presented at five scientific meetings, and a manuscript describing the project and early results is in preparation. For more details, please see the bibliography below. 


PRESENTATIONS

Clinton, B.D., J.M. Vose, Y. Liu. 2011. Remote assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): Comparative analysis with common drought indices. 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, Dec 5 – 9, San Francisco, CA. (poster)

Novick, K.A., Clinton, B.D. and J.M. Vose. 2011. Identifying signals of tree water stress with data from a new stress monitoring network. AGU Fall Meeting, Dec 5 – 9, San Francisco (CA). (poster)

Clinton, B.D., J.M. Vose and C.R. Ford. 2010. Remote Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): Development of a real time decision support system for the eastern U.S. 2010 SAMAB Fall Conference, Nov 16 – 18, Gatlinburg, TN. (poster)

Clinton, B.D., J.M. Vose and C.R. Ford. 2010. Remote Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): Development of a real time decision support system for the eastern U.S. 2010 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, August 1 – 6, Pittsburgh, PA. (poster)

Clinton, B.D. 2010. Remote Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): Development of a real time decision support system for the eastern U.S. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Hardwood Forest Research Group, March 2nd, Stoneville, MS. (oral)

Clinton, B.D. 2010. RAFES presentation to Annual Meeting of Turkey Creek Research Group. Santee EF, Cordesville, SC. (oral)


MANUSCRIPTS

Clinton, B.D., J.M. Vose, K.A. Novick, and Y. Liu . In prep. Remote Assessment of Forest Ecosystem Stress (RAFES): development of a real-time decision support tool for the eastern U.S. To be submitted to Remote Sensing of the Environment.
 


LINKS: USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory

CONTACT:
Kimberly Novick, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory Research Ecologist, kimberlynovick@fs.fed.us or (828) 524-2128 x. 127


Updated March 2012

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