Researchers simulate Cyberforests to predict climate changes and protect forests

Researchers have made cyberforests with the help of a new simulation tool that will help in protecting forests in future. The highly advanced computer-based tool has been designed to predict the effect of climate change on the forests and so that we can necessary steps to negotiate the ill effects.

The computer simulation grows realistic forests that contain all the necessary ingredients from trees and roots to branches and leaves. Researchers at the Washington Stale University Vancouver have created a model named LES that measures 100×100 meter. The LES model contains drought and shade tolerant trees and researchers say that the region can be replicated several times to mimic the originality of the actual forest.

Nikolay Strigul, assistant professor at Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver, said that LES name was given after the Russian name of forest. “It is a tool that forest managers can use to create 3D repre sentations of their own forests and simulate what will happen to them in the future,” said Strigul.

It is the first simulator of its kind. Previous all such simulators could either create intricate root systems or canopy structures for each tree. However, it is the first time that researchers have found success in simulating both the structures simultaneously.

Researchers explained that below the ground root of trees fight for water while above the ground leaves of the trees compete for sunlight. The tool takes both the factors into account and predicts the future changes accordingly.

For the study and to validate the performance of the tool, researchers used a combination of data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program and other forestry databases. Easily available data on forests also helped scientists in fine tuning the simulator for a particular forest.

Study authors believe that their new tool can play a major role in protecting our forests that take at least 1000 years to replenish.

The study has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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