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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessing forest disturbances for carbon modeling : building the bridge between activity data and carbon budget modeling Mascorro, Vanessa S.


Detailed observations of natural and anthropogenic disturbances that alter the forest structure and the distribution of carbon are essential to estimate changes in forest carbon sinks and sources. Remote sensing is one of the primary sources to provide observations of land cover and land-cover change for carbon studies and other ecological applications due to its ability to monitor the Earth’s surface on a regular and continuous basis. However, observations of change are often not attributed directly to an underlying disturbance type and are not well validated, especially in tropical areas. The overall objectives of this thesis are to 1) assess forest disturbances (natural and anthropogenic) and derive activity data for carbon budget modeling, and 2) estimate the impact of different activity data on the terrestrial carbon balance for REDD+ in Mexican tropical forests. To do so, a novel Multi-Source, Multi-Scale Disturbance (MS-D) assessment method was developed to: 1) characterize natural and anthropogenic forest disturbances; 2) obtain land-cover change observations; and 3) attribute land-cover changes to their most likely disturbance driver. Spatially-explicit layers of major disturbance types were generated in annual time steps for carbon modeling across the Yucatan Peninsula from 2005 to 2010. Using geospatial techniques and regression-tree analysis the MS-D approach successfully attributed 86% of land-cover changes derived from the MODIS satellite imagery to their underlying disturbance cause, creating synergies between remote-sensing products, forest inventory and ancillary datasets. Four remote-sensing products derived from Landsat and MODIS satellites were then compiled, providing inputs of activity data for carbon modeling with the CBM-CFS3. Two map sequences were generated for each product, with and without attributing land-cover changes to disturbance type with the MS-D approach. Annual carbon fluxes were simulated to compare the impact of: 1) spatial resolution, 2) temporal resolution, and 3) attribution/non-attribution of land-cover changes by disturbance type on carbon flux estimates. The results clearly demonstrated that different choices of satellite imagery and attribution of changes to disturbance types change the estimated carbon balance. This study provides an integral cost-effective approach to derive activity data for carbon modeling, and support policy and decision-making for forest monitoring and REDD+.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada