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Sensors 2017, 17(5), 1098;

Measuring Tree Properties and Responses Using Low-Cost Accelerometers

Water Resources Section, Delft University of Technology, Delft 2628 CN, The Netherlands
Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
Department of Plant Biology, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas, Campinas, SP 13083-862, Brazil
Oregon Research Electronics, Tangent, OR 97389, USA
Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vittorio M. N. Passaro
Received: 9 March 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 9 May 2017 / Published: 11 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
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Trees play a crucial role in the water, carbon and nitrogen cycle on local, regional and global scales. Understanding the exchange of momentum, heat, water, and CO 2 between trees and the atmosphere is important to assess the impact of drought, deforestation and climate change. Unfortunately, ground measurements of tree properties such as mass and canopy interception of precipitation are often expensive or difficult due to challenging environments. This paper aims to demonstrate the concept of using robust and affordable accelerometers to measure tree properties and responses. Tree sway is dependent on mass, canopy structure, drag coefficient, and wind forcing. By measuring tree acceleration, we can relate the tree motion to external forcing (e.g., wind, precipitation and related canopy interception) and tree physical properties (e.g., mass, elasticity). Using five months of acceleration data of 19 trees in the Brazilian Amazon, we show that the frequency spectrum of tree sway is related to mass, canopy interception of precipitation, and canopy–atmosphere turbulent exchange. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrology; tree physiology; tree sway; wind; canopy; Amazon; drag coefficient; climate change; turbulence; interception hydrology; tree physiology; tree sway; wind; canopy; Amazon; drag coefficient; climate change; turbulence; interception

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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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van Emmerik, T.; Steele-Dunne, S.; Hut, R.; Gentine, P.; Guerin, M.; Oliveira, R.S.; Wagner, J.; Selker, J.; van de Giesen, N. Measuring Tree Properties and Responses Using Low-Cost Accelerometers. Sensors 2017, 17, 1098.

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