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Forests 2018, 9(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9010026

A Comparison of Simulated and Field-Derived Leaf Area Index (LAI) and Canopy Height Values from Four Forest Complexes in the Southeastern USA

1
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Exposure Methods and Measurements Division, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
2
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
3
Texas A & M University, Agri-Life Research, Temple, TX 76502, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 November 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 December 2017 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract

Vegetative leaf area is a critical input to models that simulate human and ecosystem exposure to atmospheric pollutants. Leaf area index (LAI) can be measured in the field or numerically simulated, but all contain some inherent uncertainty that is passed to the exposure assessments that use them. LAI estimates for minimally managed or natural forest stands can be particularly difficult to develop as a result of interspecies competition, age and spatial distribution. Satellite-based LAI estimates hold promise for retrospective analyses, but we must continue to rely on numerical models for alternative management analysis. Our objective for this study is to calculate and validate LAI estimates generated from the USDA Environmental Policy Impact Climate (EPIC) model (a widely used, field-scale, biogeochemical model) on four forest complexes spanning three physiographic provinces in Virginia and North Carolina. Measurements of forest composition (species and number), LAI, tree diameter, basal area, and canopy height were recorded at each site during the 2002 field season. Calibrated EPIC results show stand-level temporally resolved LAI estimates with R2 values ranging from 0.69 to 0.96, and stand maximum height estimates within 20% of observation. This relatively high level of performance is attributable to EPIC’s approach to the characterization of forest stand biogeochemical budgets, stand history, interspecies competition and species-specific response to local weather conditions. We close by illustrating the extension of this site-level approach to scales that could support regional air quality model simulations. View Full-Text
Keywords: LAI; leaf area index; EPIC; simulation; satellite; MODIS; biomass; evaluation; southern U.S. forests LAI; leaf area index; EPIC; simulation; satellite; MODIS; biomass; evaluation; southern U.S. forests
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Iiames, J.S.; Cooter, E.; Schwede, D.; Williams, J. A Comparison of Simulated and Field-Derived Leaf Area Index (LAI) and Canopy Height Values from Four Forest Complexes in the Southeastern USA. Forests 2018, 9, 26.

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