Pohl, M.; Lehnert, L.; Bader, M.; Gradstein, S.R.; Viehweger, J. & Bendix, J. (2021): <b>A new fog and low stratus retrieval for tropical South America reveals widespread fog in lowland forests</b>. <i>Remote Sensing of Environment</i> <b>264</b>, 112620.
A new fog and low stratus retrieval for tropical South America reveals widespread fog in lowland forests
bendix <at> staff.uni-marburg.de
Room No. 02 A 48
Faculty of Geography
Fog-driven epiphyte-rich tropical cloud forests were long believed to be restricted to mountainous regions. Recent studies have shown the occurrence of such forest types in the lowlands of French Guiana, where early morning radiation fog was shown to modify the water and energy cycles at the canopy level of the tropical lowland rain forest (Gehrig-Downie et al., 2012; Obregon et al., 2011). Since this newly discovered Tropical Lowland Cloud Forest (TLCF) harbours a unique biodiversity comparable to mountain cloud forests, knowledge of its spatial distribution across tropical lowland forests is of large ecological interest, but so far fully unknown. A prerequisite to detect potential TLCF stands is knowledge on the spatial occurrence of fog/low stratus clouds (FLS) over longer time scales, indicating fog frequency. We address this need on a continental scale by presenting the first spatially-explicit, high-resolution product on nocturnal FLS occurrence over the entire tropical lowland rain forest area of South America. The product is based on a new FLS retrieval scheme that uses brightness temperature (BT) information of night-time satellite images acquired by the Aqua Moderate Imaging Spectror adiometer (Aqua MODIS). Since landforms substantially influence small-scale FLS development, we used a dy namic threshold technique depending on the spatially variable subpixel information on landform suitability for FLS generation. The product was successfully validated against in-situ visibility measurements combined with a plausibility analysis based on the published but scarce fog observations over the Amazon. The independence of the new algorithm from measured total precipitable water (TPW) is an improvement over existing procedures that are limited to the availability of these ancillary data. The FLS frequency map for the entire tropical lowland forest of South America derived from over 52,000 scenes (18 years from 2003 to 2020 inclusive) indicates that FLS is widespread, though spatially differentiated, throughout the tropical lowland forests of South America, providing suitable environmental conditions for the TLCF. This knowledge on the spatial distribution of potential TLCF is of major importance for conservation efforts. The new FLS scheme is applicable to all tropical lowland forests and can therefore support global conservation efforts of the valuable TLCF ecosystems.
| cloud forest | TERRA/AQUA-MODIS | fog and low stratus detection | FLS |