|The Western Geographic Science Center
conducts research to help communities make decisions about the interaction between people and their environment. We conduct geographic research on the environmental and societal consequences of a changing landscape.
Our projects analyze human / environmental interactions spatially and temporally. Our work is collaborative, involving many partners and linking many different natural science and social science disciplines. Our work is concentrated in the 9 states of the USGS Western Region and is conducted on local and regional scales.
Find out more about our science by following the links on the left.
A Mendenhall Opportunity!!
16-31. Remote Sensing of Rangelands to Support Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
At 308 million hectares, rangelands represent 31 percent of the total land area of the United States (Havstad et al., 2007 ). In California, rangelands are the largest land cover by area, covering over one half of the state. Given the scale and diversity of ecosystems that these rangelands encompass, they have a substantial capacity to support biodiversity and provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, soil protection, water quality and quantity (Byrd et al., 2015; Havstad et al., 2007 ). Annual precipitation and fresh water supply on California rangelands is unpredictable, given their Mediterranean climate. According to climate change projections, the uncertainty in timing and quantity of precipitation in California is likely to increase (Shaw et al., 2011 ). Despite this uncertainty, rangelands can serve an important role in supplying water. In addition, given the vast land area of rangelands, their soils represent a substantial carbon pool (Byrd et al., 2015 ).
We seek a Mendenhall Fellow to develop algorithms linking remotely sensed data to California rangeland GHG dynamics, water balance, and ecosystem state and transitions. Promising avenues of research include opportunities to develop algorithms to map trends and variation in rangeland vegetation characteristics such as evapotranspiration (ET), biomass, residual dry matter, fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, percent vegetation cover, plant community composition, leaf nitrogen concentration (N) and chlorophyll.