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- ItemQuantifying land use effects on forested riparian buffer vegetation structure using LiDAR data(2015) Wasser, Leah; Chasmer, Laura; Day, Rick; Taylor, AlanQuantifying variability of forested riparian buffer (FRB) vegetation structure with variation in adjacent land use supports an understanding of how anthropogenic disturbance influences the ability of riparian systems to perform ecosystem services. However, quantifying FRB structure over large regions is a challenge and requires efficient data collection and processing methods that integrate conventional in situ vegetation sampling with remote sensing data. This study uses automated algorithms to process airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for mapping of riparian vegetation height, canopy cover and corridor width along 5,900 transects using methods validated in 80 mensuration plots in central Pennsylvania, USA. The key objective of this study was to use airborne LiDAR data to quantify differences in edge vs interior vegetation structure as influenced by buffer width and adjacent land use type, continuously throughout a watershed. Riparian vegetation height, canopy cover and buffer width were estimated along FRB transects adjacent to developed (residential/commercial and agricultural) and undeveloped (grassland) land use types and compared to reference transects within larger forested areas and thus without an edge. On average, buffers adjacent to developed land use types were narrower than those adjacent to natural, undeveloped land use types. Approximately 50% of streams in the watershed had FRB corridors 30 m wide. Only 23% of streams had a corridor width 200 m, the width recommended to support key ecosystem services. Undeveloped land use types contained taller riparian vegetation and wider corridors, whereas developed land use types contained shorter riparian vegetation and narrow FRB corridors. Edge effects also affected vegetation structure. Vegetation height was 5–8 m shorter at the interface between the FRB and the adjacent land use (the matrix) than in the naturally occurring stream edge or in the corridor interior. Canopy cover was not influenced by adjacent land use type or width. This study demonstrates that airborne LiDAR data can be used to accurately map riparian buffer vegetation width, height and canopy cover to support ecological based management of riparian corridors over wide areas.
- ItemSAR and lidar temporal data fusion approaches to boreal wetland ecosystem monitoring(MDPI, 2019) Montgomery, Joshua; Brisco, Brian; Chasmer, Laura; Devito, Kevin; Cobbaert, Danielle; Hopkinson, ChristopherThe objective of this study was to develop a decision-based methodology, focused on data fusion for wetland classification based on surface water hydroperiod and associated riparian (transitional area between aquatic and upland zones) vegetation community attributes. Multi-temporal, multi-mode data were examined from airborne Lidar (Teledyne Optech, Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada, Titan), synthetic aperture radar (Radarsat-2, single and quad polarization), and optical (SPOT) sensors with near-coincident acquisition dates. Results were compared with 31 field measurement points for six wetlands at riparian transition zones and surface water extents in the Utikuma Regional Study Area (URSA). The methodology was repeated in the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD) to determine the transferability of the methods to other boreal environments. Water mask frequency analysis showed accuracies of 93% to 97%, and kappa values of 0.8–0.9 when compared to optical data. Concordance results comparing the semi-permanent/permanent hydroperiod between 2015 and 2016 were found to be 98% similar, suggesting little change in wetland surface water extent between these two years. The results illustrate that the decision-based methodology and data fusion could be applied to a wide range of boreal wetland types and, so far, is not geographically limited. This provides a platform for land use permitting, reclamation monitoring, and wetland regulation in a region of rapid development and uncertainty due to climate change. The methodology offers an innovative time series-based boreal wetland classification approach using data fusion of multiple remote sensing data sources.
- ItemA synthesis of three decades of hydrological research at Scotty Creek, NWT, Canada(European Geosciences Union, 2019) Quinton, William; Berg, Aaron; Braverman, Michael; Carpino, Olivia; Chasmer, Laura; Connon, Ryan; Craig, James; Devoie, Elise; Hayashi, Masaki; Haynes, Kristine; Olefeldt, David; Pietroniro, Alain; Rezanezhad, Fereidoun; Schincariol, Robert; Sonnentag, OliverScotty Creek, Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada, has been the focus of hydrological research for nearly three decades. Over this period, field and modelling studies have generated new insights into the thermal and physical mechanisms governing the flux and storage of water in the wetland-dominated regions of discontinuous permafrost that characterises much of the Canadian and circumpolar subarctic. Research at Scotty Creek has coincided with a period of unprecedented climate warming, permafrost thaw, and resulting land cover transformations including the expansion of wetland areas and loss of forests. This paper (1) synthesises field and modelling studies at Scotty Creek, (2) highlights the key insights of these studies on the major water flux and storage processes operating within and between the major land cover types, and (3) provides insights into the rate and pattern of the permafrost-thaw-induced land cover change and how such changes will affect the hydrology and water resources of the study region.
- ItemAllometric equations for shrubs and short-stature tree aboveground biomass within boreal ecosystems of northwestern Canada(MDPI, 2020) Flade, Linda; Hopkinson, Christopher; Chasmer, LauraAboveground biomass (AGB) of short-stature shrubs and trees contain a substantial part of the total carbon pool within boreal ecosystems. These ecosystems, however, are changing rapidly due to climate-mediated atmospheric changes, with overall observed decline in woody plant AGB in boreal northwestern Canada. Allometric equations provide a means to quantify woody plant AGB and are useful to understand aboveground carbon stocks as well as changes through time in unmanaged boreal ecosystems. In this paper, we provide allometric equations, regression coefficients, and error statistics to quantify total AGB of shrubs and short-stature trees. We provide species- and genus-specific as well as multispecies allometric models for shrub and tree species commonly found in northwestern boreal forest and peatland ecosystems. We found that the three-dimensional field variable (volume) provided the most accurate prediction of shrub multispecies AGB (R2 = 0.79, p < 0.001), as opposed to the commonly used one-dimensional variable (basal diameter) measured on the longest and thickest stem (R2 = 0.23, p < 0.001). Short-stature tree AGB was most accurately predicted by stem diameter measured at 0.3 m along the stem length (R2 = 0.99, p < 0.001) rather than stem length (R2 = 0.29, p < 0.001). Via the two-dimensional variable cross-sectional area, small-stature shrub AGB was combined with small-stature tree AGB within one single allometric model (R2 = 0.78, p < 0.001). The AGB models provided in this paper will improve our understanding of shrub and tree AGB within rapidly changing boreal environments.
- ItemRemote sensing of boreal wetlands 1: data use for policy and mangement(MDPI, 2020) Chasmer, Laura; Cobbaert, Danielle; Mahoney, Craig; Millard, Koreen; Peters, Daniel; Devito, Kevin; Brisco, Brian; Hopkinson, Christopher; Merchant, Michael; Montgomery, Joshua; Nelson, Kailyn; Niemann, OlafWetlands have and continue to undergo rapid environmental and anthropogenic modification and change to their extent, condition, and therefore, ecosystem services. In this first part of a two-part review, we provide decision-makers with an overview on the use of remote sensing technologies for the ‘wise use of wetlands’, following Ramsar Convention protocols. The objectives of this review are to provide: (1) a synthesis of the history of remote sensing of wetlands, (2) a feasibility study to quantify the accuracy of remotely sensed data products when compared with field data based on 286 comparisons found in the literature from 209 articles, (3) recommendations for best approaches based on case studies, and (4) a decision tree to assist users and policymakers at numerous governmental levels and industrial agencies to identify optimal remote sensing approaches based on needs, feasibility, and cost. We argue that in order for remote sensing approaches to be adopted by wetland scientists, land-use managers, and policymakers, there is a need for greater understanding of the use of remote sensing for wetland inventory, condition, and underlying processes at scales relevant for management and policy decisions. The literature review focuses on boreal wetlands primarily from a Canadian perspective, but the results are broadly applicable to policymakers and wetland scientists globally, providing knowledge on how to best incorporate remotely sensed data into their monitoring and measurement procedures. This is the first review quantifying the accuracy and feasibility of remotely sensed data and data combinations needed for monitoring and assessment. These include, baseline classification for wetland inventory, monitoring through time, and prediction of ecosystem processes from individual wetlands to a national scale.
- ItemRemote sensing of boreal wetlands 2: methods for evaluating boreal wetland ecosystem state and drivers of change(MDPI, 2020) Chasmer, Laura; Mahoney, Craig; Millard, Koreen; Nelson, Kailyn; Peters, Daniel; Merchant, Michael; Hopkinson, Christopher; Brisco, Brian; Niemann, Olaf; Montgomery, Joshua; Devito, Kevin; Cobbaert, DanielleThe following review is the second part of a two part series on the use of remotely sensed data for quantifying wetland extent and inferring or measuring condition for monitoring drivers of change on wetland environments. In the first part, we introduce policy makers and non-users of remotely sensed data with an effective feasibility guide on how data can be used. In the current review, we explore the more technical aspects of remotely sensed data processing and analysis using case studies within the literature. Here we describe: (a) current technologies used for wetland assessment and monitoring; (b) the latest algorithmic developments for wetland assessment; (c) new technologies; and (d) a framework for wetland sampling in support of remotely sensed data collection. Results illustrate that high or fine spatial resolution pixels (≤10 m) are critical for identifying wetland boundaries and extent, and wetland class, form and type, but are not required for all wetland sizes. Average accuracies can be up to 11% better (on average) than medium resolution (11–30 m) data pixels when compared with field validation. Wetland size is also a critical factor such that large wetlands may be almost as accurately classified using medium-resolution data (average = 76% accuracy, stdev = 21%). Decision-tree and machine learning algorithms provide the most accurate wetland classification methods currently available, however, these also require sampling of all permutations of variability. Hydroperiod accuracy, which is dependent on instantaneous water extent for single time period datasets does not vary greatly with pixel resolution when compared with field data (average = 87%, 86%) for high and medium resolution pixels, respectively. The results of this review provide users with a guideline for optimal use of remotely sensed data and suggested field methods for boreal and global wetland studies.
- ItemAboveground biomass allocation of boreal shrubs and short-stature trees in northwestern Canada(MDPI, 2021) Flade, Linda; Hopkinson, Christopher; Chasmer, LauraIn this follow-on study on aboveground biomass of shrubs and short-stature trees, we provide plant component aboveground biomass (herein ‘AGB’) as well as plant component AGB allometric models for five common boreal shrub and four common boreal short-stature tree genera/species. The analyzed plant components consist of stem, branch, and leaf organs. We found similar ratios of component biomass to total AGB for stems, branches, and leaves amongst shrubs and deciduous tree genera/species across the southern Northwest Territories, while the evergreen Picea genus differed in the biomass allocation to aboveground plant organs compared to the deciduous genera/species. Shrub component AGB allometric models were derived using the three-dimensional variable volume as predictor, determined as the sum of line-intercept cover, upper foliage width, and maximum height above ground. Tree component AGB was modeled using the cross-sectional area of the stem diameter as predictor variable, measured at 0.30 m along the stem length. For shrub component AGB, we achieved better model fits for stem biomass (60.33 g ≤ RMSE ≤ 163.59 g; 0.651 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.885) compared to leaf biomass (12.62 g ≤ RMSE ≤ 35.04 g; 0.380 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.735), as has been reported by others. For short-stature trees, leaf biomass predictions resulted in similar model fits (18.21 g ≤ RMSE ≤ 70.0 g; 0.702 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.882) compared to branch biomass (6.88 g ≤ RMSE ≤ 45.08 g; 0.736 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.923) and only slightly better model fits for stem biomass (30.87 g ≤ RMSE ≤ 11.72 g; 0.887 ≤ R2 ≤ 0.960), which suggests that leaf AGB of short-stature trees (<4.5 m) can be more accurately predicted using cross-sectional area as opposed to diameter at breast height for tall-stature trees. Our multi-species shrub and short-stature tree allometric models showed promising results for predicting plant component AGB, which can be utilized for remote sensing applications where plant functional types cannot always be distinguished. This study provides critical information on plant AGB allocation as well as component AGB modeling, required for understanding boreal AGB and aboveground carbon pools within the dynamic and rapidly changing Taiga Plains and Taiga Shield ecozones. In addition, the structural information and component AGB equations are important for integrating shrubs and short-stature tree AGB into carbon accounting strategies in order to improve our understanding of the rapidly changing boreal ecosystem function.
- ItemMapping and understanding the vulnerability of northern peatlands to permafrost thaw at scales relevant to community adaptation planning(IOP Science Publishing, 2021) Gibson, C.; Cottenie, K.; Gingras-Hill, T.; Kokelj, S. V.; Baltzer, J. L.; Chasmer, Laura; Turetsky, M. R.Developing spatially explicit permafrost datasets and climate assessments at scales relevant to northern communities is increasingly important as land users and decision makers incorporate changing permafrost conditions in community and adaptation planning. This need is particularly strong within the discontinuous permafrost zone of the Northwest Territories (NWT) Canada where permafrost peatlands are undergoing rapid thaw due to a warming climate. Current data products for predicting landscapes at risk of thaw are generally built at circumpolar scales and do not lend themselves well to fine-scale regional interpretations. Here, we present a new permafrost vulnerability dataset that assesses the degree of permafrost thaw within peatlands across a 750 km latitudinal gradient in the NWT. This updated dataset provides spatially explicit estimates of where peatland thermokarst potential exists, thus making it much more suitable for local, regional or community usage. Within southern peatland complexes, we show that permafrost thaw affects up to 70% of the peatland area and that thaw is strongly mediated by both latitude and elevation, with widespread thaw occuring particularly at low elevations. At the northern end of our latitudinal gradient, peatland permafrost remains climate-protected with relatively little thaw. Collectively these results demonstrate the importance of scale in permafrost analyses and mapping if research is to support northern communities and decision makers in a changing climate. This study offers a more scale-appropriate approach to support community adaptative planning under scenarios of continued warming and widespread permafrost thaw.
- ItemEducating the next generation of remote sensing specialists: skills and industry needs in a changing world(Taylor & Francis, 2021) Chasmer, Laura; Ryerson, Robert A.; Coburn, Craig A.The landscape of post-secondary education has experienced a dramatic change in student outcomes over the past 20 years. The expectation for students in advanced education was a career in research and toward gaining employment in either academia or in government science. From our survey of university students and early career professionals, it was clear that there is an expectation gap between desired and probable post-secondary education outcomes. Our survey indicated that the majority of trainees, regardless of level of education, undervalue the importance of written and oral communication skills and overvalue specific methodological understanding relative to those employed in the field. While some of these dichotomies can be explained by the relative lack of experience of students, it also points to the nature of the foci of our training. While we are concerned with the production of the next leaders in remote sensing science, most will have careers that are different from their training. There is an opportunity to optimize the post-secondary education experience (student and faculty) with the inclusion of a broader view toward career outcomes.
- ItemPeatland-fire interactions: a review of wildland fire feedbacks and interactions in Canadian boreal peatlands(Elsevier, 2021) Nelson, Kailyn; Thompson, D.; Hopkinson, Christopher; Petrone, R.; Chasmer, LauraBoreal peatlands store a disproportionately large quantity of soil carbon (C) and play a critical role within the global C-climate system; however, with climatic warming, these C stores are at risk. Increased wildfire frequency and severity are expected to increase C loss from boreal peatlands, contributing to a shift from C sink to source. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of pre- and post-fire hydrological and ecological interactions that affect the likelihood of peatland burning, address the connections between peatland fires and the C-climate cycle, and provide a conceptual model of peatland processes as they relate to wildland fire, hydro-climate, and ecosystem change. Despite negative ecohydrological feedback mechanisms that may compensate for increased C loss initially, the cumulative effects of climatic warming, anthropogenic peatland fragmentation, and subsequent peatland drying will increase C loss to the atmosphere, driving a positive C feedback cycle. However, the extent to which negative and positive feedbacks will compensate for one another and the timelines for each remains unclear. We suggest that a multi-disciplinary approach of combining process knowledge with remotely sensed data and ecohydrological and wildland fire models is essential for better understanding the role of boreal peatlands and wildland fire in the global climate system.
- ItemPartitioning carbon losses from fire combustion in a montane valley, Alberta Canada(Elsevier, 2021) Gerrand, S.; Aspinall, J.; Jensen, T.; Hopkinson, Christopher; Collingwood, A.; Chasmer, LauraDirect carbon (C) emissions from wildland fires have been difficult to quantify, especially in montane environments where sites are difficult to access. Here we examined pre-fire C partitioning and losses in a southern Canadian montane valley ecosystem, in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Canada. The objectives of this study were to: (a) quantify the C loss due to combustion at a moist riparian site compared with a dry undulating upland site and (b) compare C loss observations to an active multi-spectral lidar remote sensing index. C losses from wildfire were consistently greater at the wet riparian site compared with the dry valley site. Average soil C losses were 92.92 Mg C ha −1 (st. dev. ± 48.60 Mg C ha −1) and 58.05 Mg C ha −1 (st. dev. ± 37.19 Mg C ha −1). Average tree C losses were 114.0 Mg C ha −1 (std.dev. ± 9.9 Mg C ha −1) and 86.9 Mg C ha −1 (std.dev. ± 13.5 Mg C ha −1) respectively. C losses from trees were greater than soils, where trees lost 55% (moist riparian ecosystem) and about 60% (drier valley site) of C during combustion. Using post-fire multi-spectral airborne lidar data, we found that increased proportion of charred soils were significantly related to enhanced reflectivity in SWIR, resulted in more negative active normalised burn ratio (aNBR) results, indicating enhanced burn severity. Increased proportional cover of regenerating vegetation resulted in less negative aNBR both at the drier site, though no significant relationships between aNBR and charred vs. vegetated results were observed at the moist riparian site. No significant relationship was observed between depth of burn/soil C loss and aNBR derived from lidar data, indicating potential limitations when using burn indices for below canopy burn severity. The use of multi-spectral lidar may improve understanding of below canopy fire fuels and C losses in optical imagery, which often occludes these important components of fire ecology. The results of this research improve understanding of C losses associated with wildland fire in montane ecosystems that have undergone fire suppression and management by Euro-American colonizers for over 100 years.
- ItemShrub changes with proximity to anthropogenic disturbance in boreal wetlands determined using bi-temporal airborne lidar in the Oil Sands Region, Alberta, Canada(Elsevier, 2021) Chasmer, Laura; Lima, E. Moura; Mahoney, Craig; Hopkinson, Christopher; Montgomery, Joshua; Cobbaert, DanielleIn this study, we used bi-temporal airborne lidar data to compare changes in vegetation height proximal to anthropogenic disturbances in the Oil Sands Region of Alberta, Canada. We hypothesize that relatively low-impact disturbances such as seismic lines will increase the fragmentation of wetlands, resulting in shrub growth. Bi-temporal lidar data collected circa 2008 and 2018 were used to identify correspondence between the density of anthropogenic disturbances, wetland shape complexity and changes in vegetation height within >1800 wetlands near Fort McKay, Alberta, Canada. We found that up to 50% of wetlands were disturbed by anthropogenic disturbance in some parts of the region, with the highest proportional disturbance occurring within fens. Areas of dense anthropogenic disturbance in bogs resulted in increased growth and expansion of shrubs, while we found the opposite to occur in fens and swamps during the 10-year period. Up to 30% of bogs had increased shrubification, while shrub changes in fens and swamps varied depending on density of disturbance and did not necessarily correspond with shrub growth. As wetland shapes became increasingly elongated, the prevalence of shrubs declined between the two time periods, which may be associated with hydrological drivers (e.g. elongated may indicate surface and ground-water discharge influences). The results of this study indicate that linear disturbances such as seismic lines, considered to have relatively minimal impacts on ecosystems, can impact proximal wetland shape, fragmentation and vegetation community changes, especially in bogs.