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Disturbance and Seasonality Impacts on Regional Carbon Flux Upscaling

Funded By: NASA ROSES 2010, Carbon Cycle Science, $ 883,605

Integration of disturbance patterns into carbon (C) flux estimates to improve terrestrial-atmosphere C exchange is a critical priority for the North American Carbon Program.  This project is built upon previous finding from The Chequamegon Ecosystem Atmospheric Study and aims to 
quantify uncertainty in C flux upscaling, evaluate multiple disturbance stressors, and develop two-way communication channels between federal agencies and scientists.  

This project asks three main questions: (1) does incorporation of variation in physiological model parameters improve seasonal and interannual CO2 flux hindcasts from eddy flux towers? (2) does incorporation of stand-replacement and partial disturbance processes from remotely sensed observations improve yearly to decadal CO2 flux hindcastsfrom eddy flux towers? and (3) To what degree does model-data integration aid regional and landscape decision-making for forest C storage management?  

The finding from this project will directly contribute to national efforts to constrain uncertainty in terrestrial-atmospheric C exchange in several important ways.  First, it will utilize new disturbance algorithms using Landsat imagery to test whether inclusion of partial and stand-replacing disturbance reduces uncertainty in C flux upscaling.  Second, it will use a computationally tractable but responsive photosynthetic model to evaluate whether a more sophisticated parameterization of plant physiology aids temporal diagnosis of C flux estimates.  Third, by collaborating with regional and national Forest Service personnel, this project aims to partially address the ‘end-to-end’ problem of C cycle science by helping managers to diagnose adaptive capacity of forested landscapes, target locations, and prioritize C management activities.



Erica A.H. Smithwick (PI)– Penn State University

Kenneth J. Davis – Penn State University

Klaus Keller – Penn State University 

Kusum J. Naithani – Penn State University

Robert Kennedy – Oregon State University

Jeff Masek – NASA Goddard


Robert B. Cook – ORNL

Linda Parker - Forest Service

Nathan Urban - Princeton University