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Forest Carbon Monitoring project expanding to Austria

We have good news! It was recently agreed that the Forest Carbon Monitoring project will conduct an additional demonstration in Austria, thereby including the Alpine environments into our already versatile selection of environmental conditions within our demonstration areas. With this expansion of the project, we also welcome two new partners into the consortium: Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH and Yucatrote LDA. Joanneum Research is a well-known large technology-oriented research institution from Austria, while Yucatrote is a Portuguese SME consulting company focusing on data analysis and modelling in the environmental sector with special focus on forest ecosystems.

The Austrian demonstration covers two main activities: 1) an ecosystem modelling and data assimilation in the Austrian federal state of Styria and 2) a nation-wide near real-time (NRT) forest disturbance detection and classification. The demonstration aims to illustrate the usability of remote sensing based approaches for forest and environmental monitoring in support of policy making. It aims to create synergy between the Forest Carbon Monitoring project and ESA’s  Green Transformation Information Factory (GTIF) concept, with its first demonstration being developed for Austria (GTIF-AT).

The ecosystem modelling and data assimilation activities in Styria will feature a combination of forest structure estimation and process-based ecosystem modelling to derive forest biomass and carbon estimates for 2015, 2018 and 2021. The remote sensing based estimates and modelled estimates are combined with a sophisticated data assimilation process to reduce uncertainty in the time series of forest biomass and carbon estimates. VTT and Yucatrote will be responsible for these activities.

The NRT forest disturbance monitoring system is set up and demonstrated by Joanneum Research. The changes will be tracked from September 2021 onwards, covering the entire Austria. Additionally, an illustration of the functionality of a bark beetle risk estimation based on the NRT service results and gridded meteorological data will be provided for selected hot spots. The forest disturbance information derived from the NRT system will be combined with the European wide 20 m resolution above ground biomass map also produced in our project to derive conclusions on the amount of biomass affected by the changes.

Together these activities will further widen the range of methods and monitoring approaches tested in the Forest Carbon Monitoring project, improving our understanding on the potential and limitations of Earth observation data for forest biomass and carbon balance monitoring.