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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Analysis of historical forest carbon changes in Burma and Thailand and the contribution of climate variability and extreme weather events

PI: Amnat Chidthaisong (The Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment), with co-PI Khin Lay Swe, Yezin Agriculture University
US Partners: Merryl Alber and Monique Y. LeClerc (University of Georgoa)
Project Dates: December 2013 to January 2016
This project will focus on forest locations in two tropical countries, Thailand and Burma, to investigate forest responses to climate variability and extreme climate events. The project aims to increase scientific knowledge by merging advanced remote sensing techniques and geographic information systems technology with eddy flux tower measurements to track changes in tropical forest carbon stock and exchanges that respond to historical extreme climate conditions. This knowledge will help improve our understanding of the unknown key driving forces affecting forest health changes and associated processes occurring in Southeast Asia, including carbon gain and loss, water stress, and response mechanisms to stresses.
This project will lead to at least three pillars of development impacts. First, in order to institute appropriate forestry management to maintain a sustainable forest and its ecosystem, we need greater scientific knowledge of historical change in forests responding to extreme events. The results of this project will help us differentiate between changes due to natural extreme events and those due to anthropogenic effects. Second, in supporting the implementation of agreements under international climate negotiation schemes, forest and carbon maps from this project can serve as the basis for a greenhouse gas inventory and national baselines in both Thailand and Burma. Finally, building capacity through training, workshops, and a summer school conducted in this project will serve as a platform to disseminate knowledge and know-how among participants from these two countries and other ASEAN nations. This is expected to create linkages among a network of scientists and researchers for further collaboration.
Summary of Recent Activities
The project opened with planning meetings in November and December 2013. Significant progress has been made in collecting data, including air temperature data from 122 sites around Thailand from 1983-2012. The team also has AsiaFlux data showing CO2 flux over the forest canopy, and is in the process of securing optical satellite data.
Over the next few months, several meetings will be organized. In mid-March 2014, a meeting on forest carbon change mapping will take place with all project participants and key stakeholders at King Mongkut University of Technology. Items to be discussed include current forest monitoring systems, data availability, possible development in existing mapping and monitoring system, the implementation of the latest satellite data into monitoring systems, a planned field survey in Myanmar and Thailand, capacity building, and long-term project goals. There will also be a seminar covering the applications for remote sensing for forest managers in Myanmar sometime in in the spring of 2014. The target audience will be government departments, NGOs, academic and research institutes related to forest mapping, which is expected to help in finding potential new partners. In addition, a summer school field expedition on land use and land change will be held in May-June 2014.
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