Western Geographic Science Center

The Western Geographic Science Center  (WGSC) helps decision makers understand how people and the environment interact through geographic research on environmental and societal impacts from natural hazards and climate change. Our projects analyze human and environmental interactions over space and time. We work with many partners and link numerous natural and social science disciplines. WGSC staff are located across the USGS Pacific, Southwest, and Northwest regions, with our research topics ranging in scale from global food security to nationwide land cover change to community-level hazard analyses. Our research methods utilize the latest in remote sensing and GIS software to analyze a variety of spatial data such as Landsat satellite imagery, U.S. Census Bureau demographic data, LiDAR elevation data, and various data collected from local sensors built by our team.

Global Food Security-Support Analysis Data at 30m project conducts field verification in Thailand and Indonesia

Society for Range Management USGS Research Geographer Dr. Prasad Thenkabail and field assistant Sam Chaiya record the location and growth stage of a large rice paddy with a tablet in Na Yai Am District, Chanthaburi Province, Thailand.

Adam in Thailand USGS Geographer Adam Oliphant standing in front of a large rice paddy in Prakhon Chai District, Buriram Province, Thailand.

Adam in Thailand USGS Geographer Adam Oliphant poses with a Thai farmer taking a brake from applying pesticide to his rice paddy in Bueng Sam Phan District, Phetchabun Province, Thailand.

Tsunami Evacuation Plans – One Size Does Not Fit All: A Case Study in Alameda, California

Alameda Tsunami Evacuation Playbook Zones map

Tsunami evacuation planning in coastal communities is typically based on maximum evacuation zones that reflect a combination of all potential extreme tsunamis. However, in the case of a smaller tsunami, this approach may result in more people being evacuated than need to be, and in doing so, may overly disrupt the local economy, and strain resources needed during emergency response.

“Community leaders and emergency managers struggle to maintain the balance between keeping as many people safe from a tsunami as possible without evacuating more people than necessary,” said Jeff Peters, USGS geographer and lead author of a new study to estimate the potential community benefits of planning for multiple evacuation zones.

Read the full press release http://on.doi.gov/2ccwjcz

Read the article http://bit.ly/2cV40ha

WGSC scientists briefed City planners on tsunami evacuation research results

Jeff Peters presents to the City of Alameda

USGS geographers Nathan Wood and Jeff Peters (pictured) with the WGSC met with city, county, and state emergency managers in Alameda, California, on September 8, 2016, to present recently published research on population-evacuation implications of multiple tsunami-evacuation zones in the City of Alameda. They also discussed results from research presently in review that estimates potential community and business benefits across all coastal California communities and counties of using variable evacuation zones that better reflect likely areas of impact from an impending tsunami, rather than the current maximum zone that incorporates multiple sources. This research in collaboration with California Geological Survey and California Office of Emergency Services is designed to help emergency managers understand potential benefits of planning for multiple evacuation zones in order to ensure public safety but minimize community disruptions.  (Contact Jeff Peters, jpeters@usgs.gov or Nathan Wood, nwood@usgs.gov with questions)

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