Tropical forests are a key component of the global carbon cycle. While mature tropical forests have long been described as a carbon sink, extreme climatic events, the frequency and intensity of which are related to human activities, could make them switch from carbon sinks to net emitter. A better understanding of the current and likely role of tropical forests regarding carbon over the short and medium term is therefore fundamental. Pantropical maps of aboveground biomass are a critical first step in achieving this. Some are already available, but uncertainty of the estimated values is still high. The BIOMASS mission is expected to significantly improve aboveground biomass mapping. Within the framework of preliminary activities for this mission, the main objective of the AfriSAR field campaign was to provide ground-based estimates of aboveground biomass under the flight path of aircrafts that had previously flown over the study area (Lope, Gabon) and that were equipped with a P-band radar among other sensors. Collected data and their analysis will be described in the presentation. Potential points to enhance the collaboration between remote sensing specialists and field ecologists will also be addressed.
Nicolas Labrière is a French tropical ecologist, particularly interested in tropical forest tree diversity and functioning. During his PhD, he conducted extensive fieldwork in Kalimantan (Indonesian part of Borneo) to survey very different types of vegetation (e.g. rubber gardens, secondary regrowth following slash-and-burn farming practices, Kerangas forests, peat swamp forests). He was interested in investigating the correlation and spatial congruence between tree diversity and ecosystem services at different spatial scales. After having completed his PhD studies, he joined University College of London as a research associate to conduct fieldwork in Lopé National Park (Gabon) within the framework of preliminary activities for the ESA BIOMASS mission. The main objective of the 6-month field campaign was to provide ground-based estimates of aboveground biomass under the flight path of aircrafts equipped with a P-band radar. Next January, Nicolas will start a 2-yr postdoc with Jerome Chave in Toulouse (France) to work on the assimilation of radar data from the BIOMASS mission to improve tropical forest carbon stock modeling.