Western Geographic Science Center


Ecosystem modelling and decision support

Field Work This project seeks to understand how drivers of ecosystem change like wildfire, drought, and land use affected past spatial and temporal patterns of vegetation communities and wildlife. Research methods involve 1) analyzing field-collected information (e.g. long-term plot/transect data, repeat photography) on soils, vegetation, and/or wildlife with multitemporal satellite data, 2) and the development and use of spatial and temporal statistical models, landscape metrics, and ecological indicators to inform management actions.

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The Pacific Coastal Fog Project: Developing ecologically relevant fog datasets

Foggy Coastal marine fog is an important meteorological phenomena for California.  A cloud—either stratus or stratocumulus—is called “fog” when it is low or touching the ground. Marine fog forms as a result of complex interactions between ocean evaporation, aerosols, atmospheric pressure, vertical air layering, onshore-offshore temperature gradients, and coastal mountain topography. The marine cloud layer provides moisture to the arid and semi-arid coast, especially in the warm summer months, as it moves from the ocean into coastal communities and ecosystems of California.
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Mapping and Monitoring Wetland Carbon for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Planning

Delta Wetlands Wetlands in the conterminous U.S. represent a significant carbon pool with 21 Pg of carbon stored in vegetation and soils. Wetlands also provide many benefits, including endangered species habitat and protection from coastal flooding. The LCS funding has supported three landscape scale wetland remote sensing studies funded by NASA. The purpose of this research is to measure and map wetland productivity and carbon stocks, understand wetland vulnerability and resilience to land use and climate change, identify the role of wetlands in climate change mitigation, and develop a decision support tool to help coastal managers understand potential impacts of sea level rise on coastal marsh habitat. This work is accomplished by scaling field measurements to the landscape scale with satellite data, analysis of future scenarios, integrating satellite data with models, and building partnerships with end users.

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Integrated Wildland Fire Science

Fire Science The size and number of large wildland fires in the western United States have grown dramatically over the past decade, with a contingent rise in damages and suppression costs. This trend will likely continue with further growth of the wildland urban interface (WUI) into fire prone ecosystems, hazardous fuel conditions from decades of fire suppression, and a potentially increasing effect from prolonged drought and climate change. While the direct effects from catastrophic wildfire are often evident, less obvious are the indirect effects and subtle changes in ecosystem services and the characteristics of these coupled socio-ecological systems.

The Integrated Wildland Fire Science project is a multi-disciplinary effort addressing wildland fire, and the human and biophysical factors that affect, and are affected by fire.

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The Puget Sound Ecosystem Portfolio Model

Puget Sound EPM Thousands of streams and rivers drain a land area of about 35,500 km2 into Puget Sound, designated by the U.S. EPA as an Estuary of National Significance. This region is experiencing significant population growth and development pressures.

The USGS Puget Sound Ecosystem Portfolio Model (PSEPM) is a decision support tool that uses scenarios to evaluate where, when and to what extent future population growth, urban growth and shoreline development may threaten the nearshore environment by 2060. The tool focuses on threats to barrier and bluff-backed beaches, which represent 50 percent of Puget Sound shorelines by length. A suite of sub-models identify multiple connections between land use and the nearshore’s capacity to support valued ecosystem components (VECs) and ecosystem services.

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Other Ecosystem Projects


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