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Western Geographic Science Center

The WGSC is responsible for research and applications to understand coupled human-environmental systems in the face of land change and delivering pertinent information to decision makers on the vulnerability and resilience of these systems.  WGSC scientists collaborate with partners to advance the goals of the USGS Core Science Systems and Ecosystems Mission Areas and their programs. 

News

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New NASA ROSES Award for 5-years (2023-2028) for the Global Food-and-Water Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD) project of WGSC (PI: Prasad S. Thenkabail)

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Release of LGRIP30 Data Product

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Now Available: First CONUS-wide Coastal Wetland Collection

Publications

Slope Unit Maker (SUMak): An efficient and parameter-free algorithm for delineating slope units to improve landslide modeling

Slope units are terrain partitions bounded by drainage and divide lines. In landslide modeling, including susceptibility modeling and event-specific modeling of landslide occurrence, slope units provide several advantages over gridded units, such as better capturing terrain geometry, improved incorporation of geospatial landslide-occurrence data in different formats (e.g., point and polygon), and
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Jacob Bryson Woodard, Benjamin B. Mirus, Nathan J. Wood, Kate E. Allstadt, Ben Leshchinsky, Matthew Crawford

Ancient infrastructure offers sustainable agricultural solutions to dryland farming

For 1000 years, human populations in dryland regions of the North American Southwest (NAS) extensively constructed diverse forms of agricultural infrastructure, including canals, linear rock alignments, check dams, stock ponds, and other earthworks and rock structures. The long-term hydrological impacts of these and the demographic and socio-political drivers of construction and maintenance have y
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Matthew C. Pailes, Laura M. Norman, Christopher H. Baisan, David Meko, Nicolas E. Gauthier, Jose Villanueva-Diaz, Jeff Dean, Jupiter Martinez, Nicholas V Kessler, Ron Towner

An open-source workflow for scaling burn severity metrics from drone to satellite to support post-fire watershed management

Wildfires are increasing in size and severity across much of the western United States, exposing vulnerable wildland-urban interfaces to post-fire hazards. The Mediterranean chaparral region of Northern California contains many high sloping watersheds prone to hazardous post-fire flood events and identifying watersheds at high risk of soil loss and debris flows is a priority for post-fire response
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Joshua W. Von Nonn, Miguel L. Villarreal, Leonhard Blesius, Jerry D. Davis, Skye C. Corbett

Science

Southwest Energy Exploration, Development, and Reclamation (SWEDR)

Approximately 35% of the US and approximately 82% of DOI lands are “drylands” found throughout the western US. These lands contain oil, gas, oil shale, shale oil, and tar sand deposits and the exploration for and extraction of these resources has resulted in hundreds of thousands of operating and abandoned wells across the West. These arid and semi-arid lands have unique soil and plant communities...
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Southwest Energy Exploration, Development, and Reclamation (SWEDR)

Approximately 35% of the US and approximately 82% of DOI lands are “drylands” found throughout the western US. These lands contain oil, gas, oil shale, shale oil, and tar sand deposits and the exploration for and extraction of these resources has resulted in hundreds of thousands of operating and abandoned wells across the West. These arid and semi-arid lands have unique soil and plant communities...
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Remote Sensing of Invasive Annual Grasses -- Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Exotic annual grasses such as cheatgrass ( Bromus tectorum ) have heavily invaded portions of the western United States, rapidly degrading habitats and increasing wildfire risk. Cheatgrass and other ESIs (desert alyssum [Alyssum desertorum], and annual wheatgrass [Eremopyrum triticeum]) are an emerging threat to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); climatic changes including earlier snowmelt...
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Remote Sensing of Invasive Annual Grasses -- Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Exotic annual grasses such as cheatgrass ( Bromus tectorum ) have heavily invaded portions of the western United States, rapidly degrading habitats and increasing wildfire risk. Cheatgrass and other ESIs (desert alyssum [Alyssum desertorum], and annual wheatgrass [Eremopyrum triticeum]) are an emerging threat to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); climatic changes including earlier snowmelt...
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Global Food-and-Water Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD)

The GFSAD is a NASA funded project (2023-2028) to provide highest-resolution global cropland data and their water use that contributes towards global food-and-water security in the twenty-first century. The GFSAD products are derived through multi-sensor remote sensing data (e.g., Landsat-series, Sentinel-series, MODIS, AVHRR), secondary data, and field-plot data and aims at documenting cropland...
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Global Food-and-Water Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD)

The GFSAD is a NASA funded project (2023-2028) to provide highest-resolution global cropland data and their water use that contributes towards global food-and-water security in the twenty-first century. The GFSAD products are derived through multi-sensor remote sensing data (e.g., Landsat-series, Sentinel-series, MODIS, AVHRR), secondary data, and field-plot data and aims at documenting cropland...
Learn More