Abstract: Multilayer canopy representations are the most common structural stand representations due to their simplicity. Implementation of recent advances in technology has allowed scientists to simulate geometrically explicit forest canopies. The effect of simplified representations of tree architecture (i.e., multilayer representations) of four Fagus sylvatica (L.) stands, each with different LAI, on the light absorption estimates was assessed in comparison with explicit 3D geometrical stands. The absorbed photosynthetic radiation at stand level was calculated. Subsequently, each geometrically explicit 3D stand was compared with three multilayer models representing horizontal, uniform, and planophile leaf angle distributions. The 3D stands were created either by in situ measured trees or by modelled trees generated with the AMAP plant growth software. The Physically Based Ray Tracer (PBRT) algorithm was used to simulate the irradiance absorbance of the detailed 3D architecture stands, while for the three multilayer representations, the probability of light interception was simulated by applying the Beer-Lambert’s law. The irradiance inside the canopies was characterized as direct, diffuse and scattered irradiance. The irradiance absorbance of the stands was computed during eight angular sun configurations ranging from 10° (near nadir) up to 80° sun zenith angles. Furthermore, a leaf stratification (the number and angular distribution of leaves per LAI layer inside a canopy) analysis between the 3D stands and the multilayer representations was performed, indicating the amount of irradiance each leaf is absorbing along with the percentage of sunny and shadow leaves inside the canopy. The results reveal that a multilayer representation of a stand, using a multilayer modelling approach, greatly overestimated the absorbed irradiance in an open canopy, while it provided a better approximation in the case of a closed canopy. Moreover, the actual stratification of leaves differed significantly between a multilayer representation and a 3D architecture canopy of the same LAI. The deviations in irradiance absorbance were caused by canopy structure, clumping and positioning of leaves. Although it was found that the use of canopy simplifications for modelling purposes in closed canopies is demonstrated as a valid option, special care should be taken when considering forest stands irradiance simulation for sparse canopies and particularly on higher sun zenith angles where the surrounding trees strongly affect the absorbed irradiance and results can highly deviate from the multilayer assumptions.
Keywords: tree architecture; canopy representation; irradiance absorption; PBRT ray tracing; AMAP model; Fagus sylvatica L.
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Biliouris, D.; Van der Zande, D.; Verstraeten, W.W.; Muys, B.; Coppin, P. Assessing the Impact of Canopy Structure Simplification in Common Multilayer Models on Irradiance Absorption Estimates of Measured and Virtually Created Fagus sylvatica (L.) Stands. Remote Sens. 2009, 1, 1009-1027.
Biliouris D, Van der Zande D, Verstraeten WW, Muys B, Coppin P. Assessing the Impact of Canopy Structure Simplification in Common Multilayer Models on Irradiance Absorption Estimates of Measured and Virtually Created Fagus sylvatica (L.) Stands. Remote Sensing. 2009; 1(4):1009-1027.
Biliouris, Dimitrios; Van der Zande, Dimitry; Verstraeten, Willem W.; Muys, Bart; Coppin, Pol. 2009. "Assessing the Impact of Canopy Structure Simplification in Common Multilayer Models on Irradiance Absorption Estimates of Measured and Virtually Created Fagus sylvatica (L.) Stands." Remote Sens. 1, no. 4: 1009-1027.