Queen's University

Queen's joins climate change monitoring project


Geographers have partnered with the University of New Hampshire in a project that for the first time, uses digital web cameras to monitor changes in forests in Canada and the U.S. Images are saved to study changes over time, which could have implications for climate change research.

Researchers Neal Scott and Harry McCaughey monitor and maintain two cameras – one at Groundhog River, Ontario and one at the Queen’s University Biological Station north of Kingston – while researchers at the University of New Hampshire (led by Andrew Richardson) monitor 10 others.

The web cameras are mounted on towers that extend above the forest canopy in 12 locations across Ontario and the northeastern U.S. Pictures are captured every 30 minutes and transmitted to the University of New Hampshire.

“These images will not only help us monitor forest response to climate change, they’ll give us a better understanding of forest health against a background that includes significant seasonal change,” says Dr. Scott, who is Canada Research Chair in Greenhouse Gas Dynamics and Ecosystem Management.

Funded by the U.S. Forest Service and Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Studies, PHENOCAM is the first-ever regional climate change monitoring project to use remote web cameras. 

After two years, researchers will be able to start studying changes in the forests. Until then, the images will document baseline conditions and signatures of different tree species.

Also known as “near” remote sensing, the cameras will allow the team to get a regional perspective on changes in forests; they will also help monitor the forest carbon cycle.

“Forests remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, and subtle changes in forest health or phenology – or changes in the forest through a growing season – can alter how much carbon is stored in a forest,” says Dr. Scott.

To see the latest image at Queen’s University Biological Station or the site at Groundhog River, visit http://klima.sr.unh.edu/data/latest/queens.jpg and http://klima.sr.unh.edu/data/latest/groundhog.jpg

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Last updated at 4:55 pm EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
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