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Do Forest Treatments Improve Tree Vitality Under Drought?

Released: 2016
Thorne, J.H., M. Huesca, K. Shapiro, P. van Mantgem, A. Das, C. Ramirez, H. Safford, M. North, N. Stephenson, S. Ustin. 2016. Do Forest Treatments Improve Tree Vitality Under Drought? 2016 Natural Areas Conference. October 18-21, 2016.

We present interim results of an effort to quantify relative condition of California’s Sierra Nevada forests to see whether forest thinning practices have led to better tree health over the course of the recent four-year drought. The project leverages previous data acquisitions of remote sensing (co-occurring Lidar and AVIRIS time series for 2013-2015), GIS of vegetation and forest treatments, and repeated forest plot measures to seek for differences in trends of tree condition for areas that were prescribed burned, mechanically thinned or are untreated (fire-suppressed).
 For the pilot study area (Teakettle Experimental Forest), we examined the trends over three summers’ of hyperspectral data (2013-2015) of a canopy moisture index for forested plots previously subjected to experimental treatments. We also took canopy water potential measurements during a forth overflight (June 2016) that recorded AVIRIS data, to link remotely-sensed canopy water index with field measures of actual water potential. The project is using four pilot sites in the Sierras that have high levels of data availability to develop models of the trends in canopy condition for differently treated areas. Subsequent steps will be to analyze paired plots at less well-known sites using GIS and imagery data to identify where treatments have occurred. Based on the accuracy of the canopy water index, we will finally develop projected models of canopy water condition for larger areas of the mountain range, which can potentially be linked to climate simulations for forecasting capability. This talk presents the recent findings and progress of the project.

This product is associated with the following projects:
Fire Severity Trends

Increasing Forest Resistance to Drought Using Prescribed Fire

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