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.

WGSC students spend months in valley heat for the benefit of birds

NAGT student James Anderson (left) and student contractor Austen Lorenz (right) spent most of the summer mapping seasonal wetland vegetation throughout the California Central Valley in to help assess winter food for water fowl.

A new publication on Baseline and Projected Future Carbon Storage and Carbon Fluxes in Ecosystems of Hawai‘i

Hawaiʻi is unique among the United States because of its tropical climate, geographic isolation, high rates of species endemism, and discontinuous landmass. The year-round warm, wet climate on the windward sides of islands and the high fertility of relatively young volcanically derived soils are ideal conditions for carbon input, storage, and sequestration in ecosystems of the main Hawaiian Islands. The goal of this report is to provide robust baseline estimates of carbon storage and flux across the Hawaiian Islands based on the best available data and to then use this baseline data as input to predict how carbon cycling and storage may respond to projected future changes in climate, land use, land cover, and disturbance.

Read the full report https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/pp1834

Laura Norman's watershed restoration presentation praised in local news!

Alameda Tsunami Evacuation Playbook Zones map

There was a full house at Cady Hall on Saturday, Dec. 17 to hear USGS scientist Laura Norman, PhD, talk about our water, the liquid gold of the Patagonia watershed. Her presentation was sponsored by the Friends of Sonoita Creek (FOS).

Dr. Norman has been working in the Patagonia area for over 20 years and knows a lot about our watershed. She uses models that rely on topography (the 3D surface of the land), soil characteristics (the proportions of rock, sand, clay), land cover and use (the presence of trees and other vegetation and built structures, roads, and parking lots), and meteorological information (temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind) to predict surface water flows and other characteristics.

David Seibert, Director of Borderlands Restoration, says “Norman’s work is particularly helpful in organizing multiple variables to determine specific locations where restoration activities might be the most beneficial for a variety of goals, like habitat improvement, groundwater
recharge, flood control, holding native seeds and plants, mitigatng the effects of surface disturbances, and others.”

Read the full article bit.ly/2jlc2lJ  

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