Ecosystem Performance, Productivity and Sustainability
Science Center Objects
Remotely-sensed data forms the backbone of the large-scale maps, models and assessments created at EROS to advance the understanding of Ecosystem Performance, Productivity and Sustainability.
Detailed data from cooperators with site-specific flux towers are integrated to create models of a land cover type - grassland, for example – which can be simulated across a region. Tasks describe exchanges of Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) and Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) in the Northern Great Plains and other regions.
Cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), universities, and others provides the ground data to develop and validate pixel-specific models of ecosystem performance based on the remote sensing archive, climate, and site potential.
This modeling, EROS’ rich archival resources and the research team’s special ability to combine near real-time, remotely-sensed data with other large spatial data sets, also allows for the evaluation, mapping, and dynamic monitoring of ecosystem performance.
The work is funded through the USGS Land Change Science (LCS) Program, which strives to understand the nation's most pressing environmental, natural resource, and economic challenges by providing the information and tools necessary and identifying possible solutions.
Additional funding comes from USGS National Land Imaging program, BLM, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
EROS’ remote sensing ecology projects include permafrost and biomass mapping in Alaska, the study of invasive grass in the Great Basin, and the identification of lands with the potential for biofuels feedstock. Follow these links for more detailed information on those projects:
- Quantitative modeling and mapping of near-surface permafrost and organic layer thickness in Alaska
- Estimation of aboveground biomass in Interior Alaska
- Mapping aboveground boreal forest biomass in the Yukon River Basin, Alaska
- Cheatgrass Dieoff Time-series Dynamics, 2000-2010
- Identifying Lands Suitable for Biofuel Feedstock Crops by Dynamic Modeling of Ecosystem Performance
- Carbon Flux Quantification in the Great Plains
Below are other science projects associated with this project.
Date published: October 31, 2018Status: Active
Demand for biofuel products is expected to increase as the world seeks alternatives to fossil fuels. Currently, ethanol produced from Midwest corn is the most common biofuel product in the United States. The negative environmental effects caused by corn-based biofuel development include soil erosion, water quality impairment from pesticides and fertilizer, and demand for water for irrigation....
Date published: October 31, 2018Status: Active
High-latitude regions are experiencing climate warming at rates nearly double that of lower latitudes, leading to increased rates of permafrost degradation and consumption of organic soils by fires. Near-surface soil conditions (i.e. permafrost, organic layer thickness) are difficult to monitor, however, because they are subsurface conditions of the ground. This project addressed problems of...
Date published: October 30, 2018Status: Active
Terrestrial plant biomass is a key biophysical parameter in the investigation of ecological systems in Alaska. An accurate estimation of the regional biomass provides an important data input for ecological modeling in this region. In this study, we created an aboveground biomass (AGB) map at 30-m resolution for the Yukon Flats Ecoregion in interior Alaska based on Landsat data and field...
Date published: October 30, 2018Status: Active
Quantification of aboveground biomass (AGB) in Alaska's boreal forest is essential to accurately evaluate terrestrial carbon stocks and dynamics in northern high-latitude ecosystems. Our goal was to map AGB at 30-m resolution for the boreal forest in the Yukon River Basin (YRB) of Alaska using recent Landsat data and ground measurements. We acquired Landsat images to generate a three-year (...
Date published: October 25, 2018Status: Active
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) is a winter annual grass that has invaded and altered the shrub steppe ecosystem in the Great Basin for about 100 years. This highly competitive grass invades recently disturbed areas and then outcompetes most native vegetation by using requisite resources like soil water and nutrients in early spring before other native plants. It also can alter its phenotype...
Date published: October 17, 2018Status: Active
Gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (Re) are the fundamental environmental characteristics which drive carbon exchanges between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere (Chapin and others, 2009), although other exchanges of carbon, for example, export or direct oxidation (Lovett and others, 2006) can modify net ecosystem production (NEP).
Date published: September 18, 2018Status: Active
Water bodies surrounded by land serve as sources of fresh drinking water, play host to millions of species of fish, underwater vegetation and wildlife and maintain the vibrancy of surrounding ecosystems. These water bodies can also be hubs for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, waterskiing, swimming that boost local economies.
Date published: September 14, 2018Status: Active
A planet with limited water resources needs accurate, reliable and frequently-updated tools to measure water use and plan for future needs. Scientists at EROS harness the remote sensing capabilities of satellite data to offer powerful tools that resource managers across the United States can use to gain insight into the water use needs of agricultural land, forests, and public green spaces....
Below are publications associated with this project.
Year Published: 2015
Distribution of near-surface permafrost in Alaska: estimates of present and future conditions
High-latitude regions are experiencing rapid and extensive changes in ecosystem composition and function as the result of increases in average air temperature. Increasing air temperatures have led to widespread thawing and degradation of permafrost, which in turn has affected ecosystems, socioeconomics, and the carbon cycle of high...Pastick, Neal J.; Jorgenson, M. Torre; Wylie, Bruce K.; Nield, Shawn J.; Johnson, Kristofer D.; Finley, Andrew O.
Using remote sensing to quantify ecosystem site potential community structure and deviation in the Great Basin, United States
The semi-arid Great Basin region in the Northwest U.S. is impacted by a suite of change agents including fire, grazing, and climate variability to which native vegetation can have low resilience and resistance. Assessing ecosystem condition in relation to these change agents is difficult due to a lack of a consistent and objective Site Potential (...Rigge, Matthew B.; Homer, Collin G.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Gu, Yingxin; Shi, Hua; Xian, George Z.; Meyer, Debra K.; Bunde, Brett
Spatiotemporal remote sensing of ecosystem change and causation across Alaska
Contemporary climate change in Alaska has resulted in amplified rates of press and pulse disturbances that drive ecosystem change with significant consequences for socio‐environmental systems. Despite the vulnerability of Arctic and boreal landscapes to change, little has been done to characterize landscape change and associated drivers across...Pastick, Neal J.; Jorgenson, M. Torre; Goetz, Scott J.; Jones, Benjamin M.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Minsley, Burke J.; Genet, Hélène; Knight, Joseph F.; Swanson, David K.; Jorgenson, Janet C.
Geospatial data mining for digital raster mapping
We performed an in-depth literature survey to identify the most popular data mining approaches that have been applied for raster mapping of ecological parameters through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remotely sensed data. Popular data mining approaches included decision trees or “data mining” trees which consist of regression...Wylie, Bruce K.; Pastick, Neal J.; Picotte, Joshua J.; Deering, Carol
Assessing historical and projected carbon balance of Alaska: A synthesis of results and policy/management implications
We summarize the results of a recent interagency assessment of land carbon dynamics in Alaska, in which carbon dynamics were estimated for all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for the historical period (1950–2009) and a projection period (2010–2099). Between 1950 and 2009, upland and wetland (i.e., terrestrial) ecosystems of the state...McGuire, A. David; Genet, Hélène; Lyu, Zhou; Pastick, Neal J.; Stackpoole, Sarah M.; Birdsey, Richard; D'Amore, David; He, Yujie; Rupp, T. Scott; Striegl, Robert G.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Zhou, Xiaoping; Zhuang, Qianlai; Zhu, Zhiliang
Rapid crop cover mapping for the conterminous United States
Timely crop cover maps with sufficient resolution are important components to various environmental planning and research applications. Through the modification and use of a previously developed crop classification model (CCM), which was originally developed to generate historical annual crop cover maps, we hypothesized that such crop cover maps...Dahal, Devendra; Wylie, Bruce K.; Howard, Daniel
Mapping cropland waterway buffers for switchgrass development in the eastern Great Plains, USA
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a highly productive perennial grass, has been recommended as one potential source for cellulosic biofuel feedstocks. Previous studies indicate that planting perennial grasses (e.g., switchgrass) in high‐topographic‐relief cropland waterway buffers can improve local environmental conditions and sustainability...Gu, Yingxin; Wylie, Bruce K.
Spatiotemporal analysis of Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 data to support monitoring of dryland ecosystems
Drylands are the habitat and source of livelihood for about two fifths of the world’s population and are highly susceptible to climate and anthropogenic change. To understand the vulnerability of drylands to changing environmental conditions, land managers need to effectively monitor rates of past change and remote sensing offers a cost-effective...Pastick, Neal J.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Wu, Zhuoting
Fusing MODIS with Landsat 8 data to downscale weekly normalized difference vegetation index estimates for central Great Basin rangelands, USA
Data fused from distinct but complementary satellite sensors mitigate tradeoffs that researchers make when selecting between spatial and temporal resolutions of remotely sensed data. We integrated data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard the Terra satellite and the Operational Land Imager sensor aboard the...Boyte, Stephen; Wylie, Bruce K.; Rigge, Matthew B.; Dahal, Devendra
Integrating future scenario‐based crop expansion and crop conditions to map switchgrass biofuel potential in eastern Nebraska, USA
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has been evaluated as one potential source for cellulosic biofuel feedstocks. Planting switchgrass in marginal croplands and waterway buffers can reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and improve regional ecosystem services (i.e. it serves as a potential carbon sink). In previous studies, we mapped high risk...Gu, Yingxin; Wylie, Bruce K.
The role of driving factors in historical and projected carbon dynamics of upland ecosystems in Alaska
It is important to understand how upland ecosystems of Alaska, which are estimated to occupy 84% of the state (i.e., 1,237,774 km2), are influencing and will influence state‐wide carbon (C) dynamics in the face of ongoing climate change. We coupled fire disturbance and biogeochemical models to assess the relative effects of changing...Genet, Hélène; He, Yujie; Lyu, Zhou; McGuire, A. David; Zhuang, Qianlai; Clein, Joy S.; D'Amore, David; Bennett, Alec; Breen, Amy; Biles, Frances; Euskirchen, Eugénie S.; Johnson, Kristofer; Kurkowski, Tom; Schroder, Svetlana (Kushch); Pastick, Neal J.; Rupp, T. Scott; Wylie, Bruce K.; Zhang, Yujin; Zhou, Xiaoping; Zhu, Zhiliang
Estimating carbon and showing impacts of drought using satellite data in regression-tree models
Integrating spatially explicit biogeophysical and remotely sensed data into regression-tree models enables the spatial extrapolation of training data over large geographic spaces, allowing a better understanding of broad-scale ecosystem processes. The current study presents annual gross primary production (GPP) and annual ecosystem respiration (RE...Boyte, Stephen; Wylie, Bruce K.; Howard, Danny; Dahal, Devendra; Gilmanov, Tagir G.
Productivity and CO2 exchange of Great Plains ecoregions. I. Shortgrass steppe: Flux tower estimates
The shortgrass steppe (SGS) occupies the southwestern part of the Great Plains. Half of the land is cultivated, but significant areas remain under natural vegetation. Despite previous studies of the SGS carbon cycle, not all aspects have been completely addressed, including gross productivity, ecosystem respiration, and ecophysiological parameters...Gilmanov, Tagir G.; Morgan, Jack A.; Hanan, Niall P.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Rajan, Nithya; Smith, David P.; Howard, Daniel M.
Below are news stories associated with this project.
Date published: May 29, 2018
New research has revealed significant changes to Alaska’s landscape in recent decades