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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of Research Services
October 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence


George Sutherland

MSc Candidate

Geography and Environmental Studies, WLU

Using LiDAR data to model actual evapotranspiration and assess the role of anthropogenic disturbances

Predicting actual evapotranspiration (AET) is important in the Western Boreal Plain (WBP) of northern Alberta as it is the main factor driving the hydrologic balance and directly influences the carbon flux of this region. My research focuses on using LiDAR data to spatially model the vegetation canopy structure at two locations in the WBP: one is representative of the southern extent of the WBP, located in the Utikuma Lake area in northern Alberta; the second is representative of the northern extent of the WBP, located at Scotty Creek, NWT. Once the canopy structure of these two locations is known AET can be estimated by combining the canopy structure with observed meteorological parameters. Creating a model of surface vegetation characteristics will permit the introduction of various disturbances into the model (i.e. timber harvesting, cutting access roads, expanding oil and gas exploration) to predict how AET, and hence the regional water and carbon balance, will be impacted.