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Pics, shoots and leaves: Ecologists turn digital cameras into climate change tools
Date:12/19/2012

ch is part of several long-term studies including the UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) and the European forest health network ICP Forests.

The two cameras were set at different angles: an outdoor webcam with a near-horizontal view and a commercial 'fish-eye' digital camera looking down at the canopy from the top of a tower. The cameras snapped photos every 30 minutes during daylight for two years a total of 38,000 pictures, of which the four around midday were analysed.

She then analysed the colour of the forest canopy and compared it to FLUXNET measurements at the site: "The transition of colours from both cameras showed the seasonality of the forest: when budbreak started, the green sharply increased, gradually decreased in summer, and returned to the original level when leaves were shed; the rise of red colour was shown when oak leaves turned yellow in autumn. And the timing of the sharp increase in green coincided with the onset of carbon absorption."

"We estimated the carbon uptake using three fairly simple models, each using information about the level of incoming radiation, which is essential for photosynthesis. The modelled carbon uptake using 'hue', a parameter extracted from the photos, showed the strongest agreement with measured carbon uptake."

According to Mizunuma, the data confirm that digital cameras could be very useful in monitoring climate change effects in forests: "Our results suggest that digital cameras can be an important aid in monitoring forests and the colour signals can be a useful proxy for photosynthesis. Not only forests, one could install this system or one like it at any long term monitoring site. Long-term ecological observation is now crucial for study in climate change and biodiversity. Digital cameras provide long-run evident footage with relatively low cost without labour."


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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
07-949-804-317
Wiley
Source:Eurekalert

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