Postdoctoral fellowship: multi-temporal laser scanning to quantify forest dynamics and their impact on microclimate

CAVElab is seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher to work on a newly funded project by FWO: “Quantifying changes in forest structure and their impact on microclimate across spatial and temporal scales by integrating ground- and satellite-based remote sensing.”

About CAVElab

This lab is part of Ghent University in Belgium and studies vegetation dynamics, carbon and water cycling of terrestrial ecosystems. CAVElab has a strong focus on all types of terrestrial ecosystems, including projects on tropical and temperate forests, drylands and urban ecosystems. Process-based vegetation modelling and 3D forest reconstructions are our core research tools, the questions arising from the modelling work require dedicated fieldwork activities.

About the project

‘Quantifying changes in forest structure and their impact on microclimate across spatial and temporal scales by integrating ground- and satellite-based remote sensing.’

Forest ecosystems play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle and the global climate system. Despite this important role forests play in our climate system and society, there is increasing evidence that forests globally are under increasing pressure from climate change. Microclimate regulation is a key forest function of high importance as forests can buffer the impacts from climate extremes. While the link between climate extremes and increased forest disturbances is well developed, the impacts of forest disturbances on forest structure and subsequent forest functions are less well understood. The amount of buffering within forests (buffering capacity) is directly linked to forest structure, because forest structure determines the amount of incoming solar radiation, the amount of water available at the forest floor, the rate of evapotranspiration, and the speed of below-canopy winds. Within this project we will use microclimate measurements and remote sensing techniques. This includes novel daily automated laser scanning, yearly detailed terrestrial laser scanning and upscaling through radiative transfer modelling and satellite data. This project aims to quantify and understand the impact of how increasing forest disturbances change the buffering capacity of temperate forests across spatial and temporal scales, that is from individuals to landscapes and from days to years.

Your role in the project

The project is a collaborative project with Technical University of Munich (Dr. Cornelius Senf) and will setup ‘digital twins’ of forests in Germany and Belgium using terrestrial laser scanning, as well as automated laser scanning. Your main tasks will involve fieldwork in Germany (Berchtesgaden National Park) and Belgium (Arville Forests), installing an in-situ measurement network of microclimate and automated laser scanning and performing terrestrial laser scans. You will derive forest structural dynamics and investigate how this is related to signals from optical satellite time series for scaling. Furthermore, you will take a leading role in the overall management of the project and will be involved in the supervision of the project’s PhD student who will be based at TUM.