Assessing Rates of Biological and Morphological Change in Northern Ecosystems Using Remote Sensing Time Series Data, LiDAR, and Gridded Climate Records

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Laura Chasmer1, Chris Hopkinson1 and Richard M Petrone2, (1)University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, (2)University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Northern ecosystems are changing at accelerating rates as a result of climate warming in northern latitudes. In many areas, changes in vegetation species and succession may be a response to underlying hydrological and geomorphological changes to the land surface. Others note significant decreases in productivity as a result of drought, but direct linkages and underlying causes remain elusive. Long-term records of satellite imagery have provided proxy indicators of the complex interactions between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere, as well as disturbances over a variety of space and time scales. The following study compares long-term gridded climate patterns with historical remote sensing-based changes in vegetation productivity within a north to south transect of the Canadian boreal forest and into the zone of sporadic permafrost. The objective is to identify significant ecological and morphological changes associated with long-term climate trends. Areas of natural variability are identified within the western boreal plains and parts of the northern boreal forest associated with increased drying. Geomorphological and ecological changes as a result of thawing sporadic permafrost are also assessed.