forest near Mt. Hood

Forest surrounding Oregon’s Mount Hood. Photo credit: Tomasz Zajda

Dec 15, 2016 • Dr. Robert Kennedy is an assistant professor of Geography at Oregon State University and a member of the Landsat Science Team. On Thursday afternoon at #AGU16, he gave a talk on his use of Landsat data to better understand the carbon dynamics of forests in the Pacific Northwest. Here is what he shared with us:

Presentation Title
An Integrated, Observation-based System to Monitor Aboveground Forest Carbon Dynamics in Washington, Oregon, and California

What are the major findings of this research?
Anthropogenic factors (clearcuts, partial harvests) dominate the aboveground, live forest carbon story in Washington, Oregon and California. Fires and insects outbreaks cover large areas, but cause less carbon loss.

What are the implications of your findings?
Good news: If we want to control carbon loss in forests, we can do it. Bad news: It’s up to us to do it.

What insight did you gain from Landsat that would have been impossible to glean otherwise?
Landsat is fundamental to the work. Capturing yearly change is essentially to all of our findings.

Do you plan to extend your empirical monitoring system past 2010 in the future?
Yes, we are working with the State of California to extend this to 2016.

How does (or could) this work help the USDA with their forest inventory work?
We hope this will complement FIA yearly estimates to better capture disturbance processes. We also hope to use it to discuss how to better sample immediate-post-disturbance environments.

growth and loss of above ground biomass

Yearly estimates of growth and loss of aboveground live tree biomass for forests in Washington, Oregon, and California—as estimated from a Landsat +FIA empirical monitoring program. Growth processes offset loss in many years, but losses outstrip growth through the mid 2000s as natural loss processes (especially fire) emerge. Image credit: Kennedy et al.


Joseph Hughes
Oregon State University

Neeti Neeti
TERI University

Zhiqiang Yang
Oregon State University

Matt Gregory
Oregon State University

Heather Roberts
Oregon State University

Van R Kane
University of Washington

Scott L Powell
Montana State University

Janet Ohmann
Oregon State University

This work was made possible by a USDA NIFA Grant (Grant: 2011-67003-20458) and NASA CMS (Grant number NNX12AP76G).

Anyone can freely download Landsat data from the USGS EarthExplorer or LandsatLook.

Further Reading:
+ Landsat Abounds at #AGU16