Seeing the trees for the forest: WHRC scientists creating National Biomass and Carbon Dataset

es. Within each mapping zone data from the space shuttle are combined with topographic survey data from the NED to form a radar-measured vegetation height map. Subsequently, this map is converted to estimates of actual vegetation height, biomass, and carbon stock using survey data from the U.S. Forest Service and ancillary data sets from the NLCD2001 project, which uses the same mapping zones. The NLCD2001 provides crucial input to the NBCD2000 project for stratification of the calibration/conversion process by providing land use/land cover and tree cover data sets.

In this context Dr. Kellndorfer states, "This project depends on the confluence of these national datasets, and the development of a complex set of models, each of which has its own accuracy characteristic. We are keen to see new global satellite missions which would provide much improved height, biomass, and carbon estimates more directly, e.g., through a fusion of lidar and interferometric radar technology."

Dr. Kellndorfer and his colleagues at the Woods Hole Research Center are beginning the first phase of the project, expected to conclude in early 2007. The first mapping zone targeted by the study is in central Utah, where the current production of the NLCD2001 is completed and where high quality NED data are available. Furthermore, central Utah is of high interest for the fire modeling community, which will benefit from the results as well. The first stage will be an iterative period devoted largely to algorithm development, testing, and subsequent refinement. An important outcome of this phase will be an advanced understanding of the functional relationships between vegetation canopy height estimates and estimates of biomass and carbon stocks. Overall, work will be completed for several representative ecoregions totaling roughly 10 percent of the conterminous United States.

Knowledge and expertise gained during this phase will lay the groundwork for phase two, which is ex

Contact: Elizabeth Braun
Woods Hole Research Center

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