Scientists Create 3D Cyberforests to Study Climate Change

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Researchers from the Washington State University, Vancouver created ‘cyberforests’–computers that are capable of simulating original forests in 3D model that can be scaled down to individual trees, branches, leaves and roots so as to determine the impact of drought, wild fires and other climatic changes in the long run.

The model known as ‘LES’ is a tool that the forest managers can use to create 3D models of their own forests and determine its impact in future. So far, it is the only forest growing simulator that creates intricate root systems and canopy structures for individual trees. The existing forest simulators are capable of growing only one among the two.

In the LES model, the roots of different trees compete against each other for water resources in each pixel of the model. On the other hand, the leaves in each canopy compete for sunlight and over a period of time, the canopies change their shape to expose their leaves to sunlight. “Our model can help predict if forests are at risk of desertification or other climate change-related processes and identify what can be done to conserve these systems,” said Nikolay Strigul from the Washington State University.

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