LiDAR has the potential to be a transformative technology in the study of the Critical Zone. Understanding the carbon balance across watersheds can shed light on the role of abiotic factors in carbon sequestration in forested ecosystems. LiDAR has already been used extensively to model ecological metrics across landscape scales, including Leaf Area Index (LAI), forest biomass, and carbon. LiDAR is also useful for studying geomorphic and hydrologic processes in the Critical Zone. Due to the intensive ground truthing and field instrumentation at the Susquehanna/Shale Hills CZO, as well as the fine scale leaf-on and leaf-off LiDAR available, this study site provides researchers with an excellent opportunity to link these robust ecological metrics with our current understandings of geologic and hydrological processes occurring within the Shale Hill and Garner Run watersheds. Commonly used allometric equations for modeling above ground biomass from trees (e.g. Jenkins et al., 2004) are intended for landscape scale use, and commonly do not incorporate tree height. This may limit their effectiveness in small watersheds such as Shale Hills and Garner Run, where tree height, an important predictor of biomass, is known to vary significantly across different topographic positions, as well as
across sites. In order to fully understand the role that abiotic factors including dominant bedrock, topographic position, and terrain may play on carbon storage at the watershed scale, a different approach is needed.
Brubaker, Kristen (2015): Modeling fine-scale above ground carbon storage using LiDAR: A comparison across two watersheds. Seed Grant Proposals in Support of Critical Zone Science in the Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO.
(863 KB pdf)
2015 CZO Seed Grant Proposal