Remote Sensing of Arctic Vegetation Biochemistry

Regions: Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: environmental monitoring, vegetation, remote sensing

Principal Investigator: Kennedy, Blair E (2)
Licence Number: 15520
Organization: Carleton University
Licenced Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: Jul 28, 2014

Objective(s): To measure how light is absorbed and reflected by arctic vegetation at the ground-level in various vegetation communities across the Western Arctic and to develop a robust and sophisticated means of monitoring vegetation and climate dynamics over the current remote sensing and field-based methodologies.

Project Description: The objectives of the research are: (1) measure the spectral properties (i.e. how light is absorbed and reflected) and biochemical constituents (e.g. chlorophyll, water, nitrogen, carbon) of arctic vegetation at the ground-level in various vegetation communities across the Western Arctic (e.g. low-arctic to high-arctic); (2) investigate the potential of using satellite based multi-angular imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral sensors capable of imaging in multiple directions) to predict the measured (ground-level) vegetation characteristics using various remote sensing based modeling approaches, (3) develop a more up-to-date and robust/sophisticated means of monitoring vegetation/climate dynamics over the current remote sensing and field-based methodologies.

The research team will visit various and distinct vegetation communities (i.e. shrub patches, cotton grass tundra, etc.) on the Peel Plateau in 2014. At each of these sites, the team will measure the spectral and physical properties of this vegetation using mostly nondestructive methods. Various non-invasive remote sensing-based instruments will be used, such as a handheld spectrometer, a camera, and a chlorophyll meter. Other vegetation characteristics, such as vegetation height will be measured with tape measures. No instruments will be left in the field.

Following this, the research team will collect (clip) small samples of leaves at each study site in each of the sample plots (sample size of approximately 20-30 leaves per plot of the dominant vegetation type) which will then be transported off-site for chemical analysis. All chemical analyses will be completed in a laboratory. Chemical analysis will be to determine the water, nitrogen, carbon, and cellulose/lignin content found in the leaves. The collection of leaves represents a minimally invasive means of testing the biochemical content of these ecosystems. All leaves will be placed in sealable containers when transported off site.

The research team plans to visit approximately 10 to 20 plots at the study site (Peel Plateau). It is anticipated that a total of 30 test plots will be completed in 2014.

The results of the study will be communicated through reports/thesis and publications (academic journals/conference proceedings). All documents generated will be sent to all parties, communities, organizations affected by this research and those who may be interested. It is also anticipated/hoped that presentations will be given to groups interested in the research. Groups of interest include Aurora Research Institute, Inuvialuit Land Administration, Gwich'in tribal Council, Yukon Government/Parks, and Parks Canada.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 28, 2014 to August 15, 2014.