The Impact of Climate Change on Canopy Growth

Organization(s):West Haven High School
Student(s):Doneisha Coleman and Breyonnia Duggins
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Teacher(s):
Report Type(s):Standard Research Report
Date Submitted:05/10/2012

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When discussing a forest biome, canopy refers to the upper layer or habitat zone, formed by mature tree crowns and including other biological organisms. The forest canopy is one of the chief determinants of the microhabitat within the forest. It affects plant growth and survival, hence determining the nature of the vegetation, and wildlife habitat. Canopy cover is usually measured visually from above on a percentage or an ordinal scale. An analogous measurement is used a lot in forestry. For example, each measurement point the forester looks vertically upwards and records whether or not the forest canopy obscures the sky. The proportion of points where the sky is obscured gives an estimate of forest canopy cover. A densitometer is used to measure the amount of light that penetrates the forest canopy. A simple densitometer is a device with a mirror apparatus inside that reflects the canopy above. The viewer sees a mirror image above, which allows him/her to estimate how much of the sky above is blocked by tree canopies. A heavy or dense canopy results in a small amount of available sunlight that reaches the forest floor.


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Do you attribute the changes in canopy cover more to climate change, weather changes, or measurement variability/errors? Do you plan to continue these measurements to be able to compare canopy cover in a given season from one year to the next?

Posted on 5/11/12 6:36 PM.

From the students at Ramey School -

"It is interesting your factor (temperature) impacting the timing of budburst is different for ours factor (Precipitation). We like your graph comparing the percent of canopy over time and find it interesting that on 11-18-11 that was your highest percent of canopy cover. It would be interesting to see temperature data along with our canopy data.

We are still developing a research project and will be looking at canopy cover versus ground cover over time, timing of Phenology and looking at climatic factors that might impact the timing of our Phenology at our study sites."

Posted on 6/4/12 6:47 PM.