Single Pass LiDAR–derived Estimate of Site Productivity in Western Oregon

Friday, 19 December 2014
Erick McAdam1, Thomas Hilker1, Richard H Waring1, Celio Helder Resende de Sousa1 and Yhasmin Mendes Moura2, (1)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States, (2)INPE National Institute for Space Research, Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
Accurate estimates of forest growth at different ages are essential to evaluate the effect of a changing climate and to adjust management practices accordingly. Most current approaches are spatially discrete and therefore unable to predict forest growth accurately across landscapes. While airborne LiDAR has been widely used in forestry, it can only estimate growth rates with repeated passes. In contrast, Landsat imagery records disturbances (at 30 m resolution) but is unable to measure changes in growth rates. Historical archives of Landsat imagery provided us a way of knowing when and where even-aged stands of Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) were cut and replanted. Since early growth rates are nearly linear with age, the height of dominant trees recorded in one pass by LiDAR yields a direct measure of growth and likely changes as stands age under recent climatic conditions. Process-based growth models are available to assess possible shifts in the growth rates of stands under a changing climate; the accuracy of such model predictions can be evaluated with additional LiDAR coverage. In this study we use the Physiological Principles Predicting Growth Model (3-PG) to estimate site index at the landscape level to predict site productivity based on the year of stand establishment obtained from Landsat, and one-pass airborne LiDAR measurement of forest height. We are monitoring forest plantations of known ages and with data on their current age we will calculate site index for 60 separate sites across western Oregon. The results of this study will allow us to create updated site index maps for the state of Oregon under varying climate scenarios.