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.

Remote Sensing for Wetland Mapping and Historical Change Detection at the Nisqually River Delta

Coastal wetlands are important ecosystems for carbon storage and coastal resilience to climate change and sea-level rise. As such, changes in wetland habitat types can also impact ecosystem functions. Our goal was to quantify historical vegetation change within the Nisqually River watershed relevant to carbon storage, wildlife habitat, and wetland sustainability, and identify watershed-scale anthropogenic and hydrodynamic drivers of these changes. To achieve this, we produced time-series classifications of habitat, photosynthetic pathway functional types and species in the Nisqually River Delta for the years 1957, 1980, and 2015. Using an object-oriented approach, we performed a hierarchical classification on historical and current imagery to identify change within the watershed and wetland ecosystems. We found a 188.4 ha (79%) increase in emergent marsh wetland within the Nisqually River Delta between 1957 and 2015 as a result of restoration efforts that occurred in several phases through 2009. Despite these wetland gains, a total of 83.1 ha (35%) of marsh was lost between 1957 and 2015, particularly in areas near the Nisqually River mouth due to erosion and shifting river channels, resulting in a net wetland gain of 105.4 ha (44%). We found the trajectory of wetland recovery coincided with previous studies, demonstrating the role of remote sensing for historical wetland change detection as well as future coastal wetland monitoring.

Read the full article here http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/11/1919

Ask lead author Laureal Ballanti questions lballanti@usgs.gov

WGSC remote sensing science at Flagstaff Science in the Park!!!

USGS Western Geographic Science Center Geographer Adam Oliphant showing students how visible and near infrared light are useful for classifying agriculture using Landsat satellites by demonstrating a full spectrum camera at Science in the Park in Flagstaff Arizona on 9/23/2017. Common cameras are sensitive to near infrared light if an internal filter is removed. Students practiced taking apart cameras to remove the filter using broken cameras (top right). Image taken with a converted full spectrum camera (bottom left) and the same camera with a filter (680 nm) that blocks most visible light (bottom right). Green vegetation selectively reflects near infrared light, which is why the leaves appear so bright.


The WGSC GFSAD30 project accomplished their goal!

The global croplands mapping project has succesfully mapped croplands across the entire planet in order to understand the security of food world wide. Below are many press anouncments and interviews with the project leader Prasad Thenkabail.

American Scientist
Croplands Up Close

There's More Farmland in the World Than Was Previously Thought

International Business Times
India beats US and China on farmland: Report

USDA Radio
* They are running one more segment later this week.

Water Canada
Global Agriculture Intensity Detailed in Interactive Map

AG Web
New Interactive Maps Of Global Cropland

Central Valley Business Times
New map shows where the food is grown -- and not

Environment Guru
Global Agriculture Intensity Detailed in Interactive Map

Southwest Farm Press and Delta Farm Press
This map clearly shows individual farm fields anywhere in the world

Daily Digital News
There's more farmland in the world than was previously thought

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