Fort Collins Science Center Scientists have strong presence at AGU Fall Meeting 2020

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Fort Collins Science Center scientists had multiple presentations and poster submissions, as well as one award, at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2020. The Meeting was the largest worldwide virtual conference in the Earth and space sciences, with over 20,000 attendees. 

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), an international nonprofit that supports a community of Earth and space scientists and enthusiasts dedicated to discovery and solutions to societal challenges, held its annual Fall Meeting December 1-17, 2020. The Fall Meeting included more than 20,000 attendees from 110 countries, making it the largest worldwide virtual conference in the Earth and space sciences. 

Scientists at the Fort Collins Science Center had a strong showing at the AGU Fall Meeting, including one award and multiple presentations and poster submissions. 


  • The work of research hydrologist Jonathan Friedman was featured in the presentation “Connecting the Dots: Building a Sediment-Ecological Connectivity Framework to Link Tributary Erosion to Downstream Floodplain Forest Establishment in a Large River Network". This presentation promotes basin-wide management of sediment in the Colorado River Watershed by showing how erosion in the headwaters of the Little Snake Basin in the early 1900s introduced sediment that promoted channel migration and cottonwood establishment downstream along the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. 
  • Student contractor Ned Molder and social scientist Crista Straub presented “Case Studies of Landsat Users in Machine Learning and AI: Mapping the Benefits of EO Data in a Data Ecosystem”. The presentation provided an overview of case studies developed to map the flow of Landsat data through the Earth observation "data ecosystem". Molder and Straub used case studies to highlight the actors, infrastructural components, and governance mechanisms critical to value generation in the Earth observation sector. 
  • Social Scientist Crista Straub also led a team of eight co-authors to present “Economic and societal benefits of Earth observations: Repository design, development, and testing”. Straub and collaborators presented on the design, development, and testing of the following: (1) repository of documents that comprise the social, economic, and societal impacts of EO; (2) valuation, societal benefits, and EO metadata categories to include in the repository; (3) hosting site for the repository; and (4) approach to synthesize the repository documents. 


Plot of tree mortality events, as well as biomes, temperature, and elevation.

Biomes of global tree mortality events, a figure from Craig Allen's AGU poster submission. 

  • Research ecologist Craig Allen was part of an international team of 10 co-authors that contributed a poster titled “A hotter drought fingerprint on Earth’s forests mortality sites – warming accelerates risk”. The poster described the recent creation of a database compilation of previously published global tree mortality events that have occurred during droughts since 1970. Analysis of database information in concert with climate records revealed an acceleration of forest mortality events under recent hotter-drought conditions. Acceleration of forest mortality events were documented across all forested continents in every tree-supporting biome across huge precipitation and temperature gradients. This global fingerprint of lethal hotter-drought provides evidence that many of Earth’s forests are increasingly imperiled by further warming. 
  • Research ecologist Jill Baron was co-author with Colorado State University graduate student Caitlin Charlton of a poster titled “Spatial variation in littoral zone benthic algal productivity in the Sierra Nevada, California”. Observations of algae found at the bottom of bodies of water, known as benthic algae, have increased in recent years across mountain lakes in the western United States, similar to lakes across the globe. Currently, what factors impact the amount of benthic algae produced in different lakes is unknown. In 2018 and 2019, benthic algae production was monitored in alpine and subalpine lakes of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, in an effort to identify factors that may influence algae production. These monitoring efforts revealed that algae production most strongly correlated with nitrogen availability. Landscape characteristics, including slope, north or south facing aspects, and amount of barren land near the body of water had a smaller influence on algal growth. 
  • Crista Straub, Ned Molder, and collaborators presented a poster titled “Expanding the Societal Benefits of Earth Observations through Leading Practices for Public Private Partnerships”. Presenters shared information on (1) the development of a repository of partnership case studies illustrating strategies, (2) an inventory of leading practices and tools related to partnerships, and (3) the identification of particular areas where these P3s can deliver the greatest societal benefits.


More on the American Geophysical Union

AGU supports 130,000 enthusiasts to experts worldwide in Earth and space sciences. Through broad and inclusive partnerships, AGU advances discovery and solution science that accelerate knowledge and create solutions that are ethical, unbiased and respectful of communities and their values. AGU programs include serving as a scholarly publisher, convening virtual and in-person events and providing career support.