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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2014

  • Title: Expanding the Boundaries of Data Collection at the Harvard Forest: Construction of an Aerial Tram for Forest Re-growth Monitoring
  • Primary Author: Faith Neff (Humboldt State University)
  • Additional Authors: Lake Boddicker (Lake Forest Academy); Devin Carroll (University of Massachusetts Amherst); Paul Siqueira (University of Massachusetts - Amherst ); Mark VanScoy (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    As the largest terrestrial carbon pool and the foundation for some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems, forests are a precious resource and a rich source of information. Our understanding of how forests respond to stress has nevertheless been limited by the impracticability of continuous data collection. We proposed to design and construct an aerial tram to address this issue and to better study forest growth, carbon cycling, light emission and absorption, and vegetation stress. The tram was constructed and proof of concept was executed, with plans to install the tram over a section of previously clear-cut forest. With nine sensors, including a four-channel net radiometer, an ultrasonic sensor, an optical camera, and multiple spectral reflectance sensors, the tram expands both the scope and frequency of potential data collection. Suspended over the forest canopy, the tram is designed to run off of solar power and to travel between two towers fifty meters apart, collecting measurements nominally once every meter. The tram is able to generate repeated measurements throughout the day and over multiple seasons, facilitating cross-seasonal and multiannual comparisons. Communications between the tram and a central data repository take place via a wireless connection, and are available in near real-time. Data obtained from this system can used to monitor the carbon budget at a local scale and inform resource management and carbon sequestration practices. This tram also opens vast opportunities for collaborative research.

  • Research Category: Group Projects