Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Temperate and boreal conifer forests are dormant for many months during the cold season, during which they continue to absorb solar radiation. Thus they exhibit a marked seasonal change in light-use efficiency, challenging our ability to monitor gross primary productivity (GPP) of these forests from remote sensing platforms. Climate change is altering many aspects of the seasonality of these forests. We are studying the factors limiting the seasonality of photosynthesis of a high-elevation subalpine forest in Colorado. Using in-situ thermal imagery, we find that foliage in winter is sometimes near the optimum temperature for photosynthesis, but photosynthesis is shut down for most of the cold season. Water transport is limited by blockage of sap transport by frozen boles, but not by frozen soils. Foliar carotenoid content exhibits strong upregulation during winter, driven largely by increase in the pool size of the photoprotective xanthophyll cycle, but with no seasonal change in chlorophyll content. The seasonality of GPP is strongly linked to xanthophyll cycle conversion state and thawing of boles. Ongoing research includes examination of leaf-level chlorophyll fluorescence emission and gas exchange, combined with measurement of canopy-level spectral reflectance and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) at high spatio-temporal resolution using a custom tower-based PhotoSpec scanning spectrometer system. These results will be synthesized in the context of using SIF as a metric for GPP.