Russian and British scientists are completing a study of the northern forests of Russia as part of the large-scale project "Multi-platform remote monitoring of the impact of climate change on Russia's northern forests."
The research started in 2000 and covers all the northern forest territories of Russia. Scientists have studied the Kola Peninsula and Yakutia. Further, perhaps, the Norilsk region will be covered: mainly the forests north of 65 ° N; in Yakutia - north of 61 ° N. The study commissioned by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation is conducted by the Faculty of Geography of Lomonosov Moscow State University together with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey. For more than 20 years, British scientists have been collaborating with the geographical faculty of Moscow State University. They are interested in Arctic research and the nature in the north of Russia. From the UK, mainly climate scientists and remote sensing specialists are involved in the project. And Russian scientists process the data and scale the images obtained in the field and from space. In total, more than thirty scientists participate in large-scale studies.
A significant part of the studies of the phytomass dynamics of northern forests is carried out remotely - the space satellites Terra and Aqua help with this. But to collect the primary data, field work is also needed: scientists measure the heights and diameters of tree trunks, take photos from the ground with a wide-angle camera and make three-dimensional models of trees using drones. The research complex also includes mapping the dynamics of foliage and wood phytomass using satellite images, compiling thematic maps, collecting forest stand characteristics from drone survey data, scaling information from ground and unmanned surveys to satellite surveys, and much more.
“At present, we have already developed methods for monitoring the seasonal phenology and long-term dynamics of the foliage and wood phytomass of the northern forests of Russia,” says Olga Tutubalina, project manager, associate professor of the geographical faculty of Moscow State University. “We performed this work on the basis of long term analysis of time series of satellite images” .
In addition, the researchers created a pilot software package with which they compiled parameter maps of wood and foliage phytomass for forests in the north of Russia, as well as maps of the dynamics of these parameters in 2000–2018 with a scale of 1:25 000. The technology for creating such maps is based on the empirical relationships of reflection in the red spectral zone in winter images and the volume of wood phytomass of various types of forests. It is also derived from the calculation of the leaf area index based on a series of images taken during the growing season. Such software package has no analogues in the world.
Within the framework of the project, scientists, for the first time, compared maps of the Leaf Area Index (LAI) with maps of accumulated temperatures for the growing season, obtained on the basis of a climate data bank.
"We identified the trend of increasing LAI during over 18 years of research, earlier onset of spring and autumn. We expanded the evidence base on the characteristics of forest stands on 34 sample areas in the center of the Kola Peninsula and on 11 test areas in central Yakutia. In addition, we applied for the state registration of the database "Library of the spectral characteristics of plants of the North (center of the Kola Peninsula)", Olga Tutubalina shares.
According to her, the data obtained will help in predicting the state of the forest fund, including taking into account the dynamics of the intensity of forest fires. One of the conclusions of scientists is that climate change in northern forests is less significant than anthropogenic one.
In 2020, researchers plan to complete the development of the software package for remote monitoring of the dynamics of Russia's northern forests. The results of mass data processing will be available to users of the Vega-Science system, which is an integral part of the Center for Collective Use of Archiving, Processing and Analysis Systems of Satellite Observation Data of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences for solving environmental research and monitoring tasks (CKP IKI-Monitoring).