Title: "Remotely sensed canopy water content as a predictor for tree mortality"
Abstract: The rate of drought-induced tree mortality has increased across the world, and is expected to continue to increase dramatically as temperatures (and associated with them, evaporative demand) continue to rise. Increased drought stress, however, will not lead to mortality everywhere, and in situ monitoring of this heterogeneous process is cumbersome and expensive. Predicting where droughts will lead to tree mortality is critical for forest management and forest risk, but plant physiological models differ widely in their mortality predictions. Alternatively, a number of simple climatic indices have been proposed as indicators of mortality risk. However, these do not take into account differences in biogeophysical factors (e.g. topography) and plant drought response strategies that also affect mortality risk. In this talk, I will use the case study of the 2012-2016 California drought to demonstrate that plant canopy water content measurements from microwave remote sensing provide a more informative estimator of mortality risk. I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this prediction approach, including the characteristics and possibilities of the canopy water content datasets and the effects of reductions in water content on mortality at multiple lag times. If time permits, I will also discuss other uses of remotely sensed canopy water content data in ecology.