NSF funds collaborative research on terrestrial laser scanning in forests

Monday 1 June 2015

Researchers from the University will join a global network of scientists developing new approaches to measure forest structure and function using terrestrial laser scanners (TLS).

The project has received international funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), which will support work to measure and monitor change in terrestrial biomass and carbon in forest environments.

Academics from the School of Environment & Life Sciences, led by Professor Mark Danson, will use TLS to provide detailed three-dimensional measurements of forests, by firing millions of laser pulses up into the canopy. The information recorded can then be used to monitor changes in forest biomass with unprecedented accuracy.

These measurements can then be related to seasonal and long-term changes in climate to determine whether forests are acting as carbon sinks or carbon sources. This is the key unknown in the carbon cycle on land and a major source of uncertainty in climate change models.

Mark, who is a member of the project Steering Committee that will guide project development, said: “As part of the $500,000 NSF grant, our team will take part in collaborative workshops and TLS inter-calibration activities in the US, as well as host meetings of the project group in Salford.”

The University has been at the forefront of TLS research for several years and the team recently developed the Salford Advance Canopy Analyser (SALCA). It is a novel laser scanner, which has produced the most detailed measurements of forest structure ever made.

An exchange of staff between the US participants, at the Universities of Boston and Massachusetts Boston, and the University of Salford will also take place.

The project is led by Professor Alan Strahler, from the University of Boston, and includes groups from University College London, UK, University of Wageningen, Netherlands, Tampere University of Technology, Finland, and University of Queensland, Australia.

Twitter: @SalcaSalford Keep up with developments via the dedicated SALCA blog: http://salca-salford.blogspot.co.uk/