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Mapping amazon forest productivity by fusing GEDI lidar waveforms with an individual-based forest model

The Amazon rainforest plays an important role in the global carbon cycle. However, due to its structural complexity, current estimates of its carbon dynamics are very imprecise. The aim of this study was to determine the forest productivity and carbon balance of the Amazon, particularly considering the role of canopy height complexity. Recent satellite missions have measured canopy height variability in great detail over large areas. Forest models are able to transform these measurements into carbon dynamics. For this purpose, about 110 million lidar waveforms from NASA’s GEDI mission (footprint diameters of ~25 m each) were analyzed over the entire Amazon ecoregion and then integrated into the forest model FORMIND. With this model–data fusion, we found that the total gross primary productivity (GPP) of the Amazon rainforest was 11.4 Pg C a-1 (average: 21.1 Mg C ha-1 a-1) with lowest values in the Arc of Deforestation region. For old-growth forests, the GPP varied between 15 and 45 Mg C ha-1 a-1. At the same time, we found a correlation between the canopy height complexity and GPP of old-growth forests. Forest productivity was found to be higher (between 25 and 45 Mg C ha-1 a) when canopy height complexity was low and lower (10–25 Mg C ha-1 a-1) when canopy height complexity was high. Furthermore, the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of the Amazon rainforest was determined. The total carbon balance of the Amazon ecoregion was found to be -0.1 Pg C a-1, with the highest values in the Amazon Basin between both the Rio Negro and Solimões rivers. This model–data fusion reassessed the carbon uptake of the Amazon rainforest based on the latest canopy structure measurements provided by the GEDI mission in combination with a forest model and found a neutral carbon balance. This knowledge may be critical for the determination of global carbon emission limits to mitigate global warming.



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