Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Ecosystem Dynamics

GECSC scientists develop spatially explicit models of ecosystem extent and function, and methodologies for the assessment of ecosystem goods and services, with an emphasis on understanding how they respond to changing landscape and climatic conditions. Ecosystems mapping efforts aimed at identifying, delineating, and subdividing the Earth’s ecosystems into relatively fine land-based units is useful for various types of ecosystem research and management applications, including assessments of climate change impacts on biodiversity and conservation planning.

Filter Total Items: 13
Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Past Perspectives of Water in the West

In the intermountain west, seasonal precipitation extremes, combined with population growth, are creating new challenges for the management of water resources, ecosystems, and geologic hazards. This research contributes a comprehensive long-term context for a deeper understanding of past hydrologic variability, including the magnitude and frequency of drought and flood extremes and ecosystem...

Date published: May 31, 2019
Status: Active

Remote Sensing of Ecosystem Condition and Resilience

Ecosystem condition tends to be highly dynamic in response to natural variability in climate, extreme climate events, disturbance events, and human land use activities. Satellite imagery provides a powerful tool to enhance our understanding of ecosystem change at a landscape scale. This research integrates diverse sources of satellite imagery with ancillary datasets to explore how ecosystems...

Date published: May 10, 2019
Status: Active

Accounting for natural capital: building the numbers to track and sustain the nation’s natural resources

Accounting for ecosystem services - the benefits that nature provides to society and the economy - is gaining increasing traction worldwide as governments and the private sector use them to monitor integrated environmental and economic trends. When they are well understood and managed, ecosystems can provide these long-term benefits to people - such as clean air and water, flood control, crop...

Contacts: Kenneth J Bagstad, Ph.D., Carl D Shapiro, Ph.D., Jane Carter Ingram
Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Burned Area Essential Climate Variable

Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) track critical attributes of the atmosphere, oceanic, and terrestrial systems over time-scales appropriate for analyzing their relationships with climate change. As part of a larger Climate Data Record (CDR) and ECV project, scientists at GECSC are leading the development and validation of the Burned Area ECV algorithm. This algorithm automatically extracts...

Contacts: Todd Hawbaker
Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation

Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides to human well-being: clean air and water, protection from natural disasters, fisheries, crop pollination and control of pests and disease, and outdoor places for recreation, solitude, and renewal. Ecosystem services underlie the functioning of our entire economy. They are neither worthless nor priceless, and by integrating the physical...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Effects of Energy Development Strategies

Energy is a cornerstone issue for humanity, nations, and individuals. How we create and use energy impacts the consequences it embodies. The critical issue facing humanity involves meeting our massive and growing energy needs, without undermining human and natural capital. Facing the challenge of long-term, sustainable energy for the nation and world requires understanding the consequences of...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Global Ecosystems

The Earth contains an astonishing variety of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, which provide biological resources and services that are essential to our survival. A high resolution, data-derived, global ecosystems map will improve our ability to manage, conserve, and restore ecosystems that are increasingly threatened by fragmentation, alteration, loss, invasive species, fire,...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Holocene Hydroclimate of Western North America

The objectives of this project are to reconstruct detailed histories of Holocene hydroclimate and corresponding environmental change from geological archives such as lake sediment, peat, and wood to more fully understand past, ongoing, and future change and its impacts.

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Mountain Pine Beetle Impacts on Carbon Cycling

In the Southern Rocky Mountains, an epidemic outbreak of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae; MPB) has caused forest mortality on a scale unprecedented in recorded history. The impacts of insect-induced mortality have only recently received attention, although other disturbances such as fires and land-use change have a strong influence on carbon sequestration and can result in a net...

Contacts: Todd Hawbaker
Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

National Land Change Assessment

The National Land Change Assessment (NLCA) is a research effort that examines the causes, trends, and implications of United States land change. The project takes a comprehensive approach towards understanding land change by systematically examining land conversion and management across a full range of land use and land cover types and climate and ecological settings. Land change is a key...

Contacts: Mark A Drummond
Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Paleohydrology of Desert Wetlands

Springs and wetlands are among the most highly threatened ecosystems on Earth. Although geographically limited, they support more than 20% of all the threatened and endangered species in the United States. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey are examining the rock record to determine how springs and wetlands responded to abrupt climate change during prehistoric times and the recent...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Sustainable Landscapes

Evidence of the loss and fragmentation of forest, wetland, shrubland, grassland and other natural and semi-natural cover to human activities is pervasive. In response, this study focuses on the trajectory of land use and development coupled with the capacity for landscape conservation and recovery of natural and semi-natural land cover across a diversity of U.S. landscapes.