Ringold, P. L., J. Van Sickle, K. Rasar and J. Schacher. 2003. Use of Hemispheric Imagery for Estimating Stream Solar Exposure. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 39 (6): 1373-1384. WED-02-135
Solar exposure profoundly affects stream processes and species composition. Despite this, prominent stream monitoring protocols focus on canopy closure (obstruction of the sky as a whole) rather than on measures of solar exposure or shading. We identify a candidate set of solar exposure metrics that can be derived from hemispheric images. These metrics enable a more mechanistic evaluation of solar exposure than can be achieved with canopy closure metrics. Data collected from 31 stream reaches in eastern Oregon enable us to quantify and compare metrics of solar exposure from hemispheric images and a metric of canopy closure with a concave densiometer. Repeatability of hemispheric metrics is generally as good as or better than the densiometer closure metric, and variation in the analysis of hemispheric images attributable to differences between analysts is negligibly small. Metrics from the hemispheric images and the densiometer are typically strongly correlated, at the scale of an individual observation and for 150 m stream reaches, but not always in a linear fashion. We quantify the character of the uncertainty in the relationship between the densiometer and the hemispheric metrics. Hemispheric imagery produces repeatable metrics representing an important ecological attribute; thus those researching the effects of solar exposure on stream ecosystems should consider the use of hemispheric imagery.