What's the Big Idea? Using Remote Sensing to Understand Climate Change

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Detailed Description

Zhuoting Wu, research ecologist at the USGS Western Geographic Science Center, explains how the USGS uses remote sensing technology to help Tribal communities better understand the effects of climate change. 


Image Dimensions: 480 x 360

Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:42

Location Taken: Menlo Park, CA, US

Video Credits

Videographer: Jacob Massey, USGS
Camera: Don Becker, USGS


My name is Zhuoting Wu. I’m a research ecologist at the USGS. We are the Western Geographic Science Center.  We are located in Flagstaff, Arizona. So I was born and raised in China and I got my undergrad in biology in China, then I moved to the states, and I went to grad school in Flagstaff. In Flagstaff…Flagstaff is small, but there is actually a real good ecology program in Northern Arizona University and there are a lot of people working on different aspects of ecology. They are looking at global change, climate change, ecosystems, carbon and nitrogen and all kinds of interesting things. So, like I was intrigued by the research and also just the experience of meeting new people and living in a new environment. So, I came here and got my PhD for a few years and then the USGS had an opening for ecology and I know the reputation of the research of USGS and how the USGS has serviced not just for science and research, but also for applications, so I think the USGS is a perfect fit after my graduation. Recently, these days there is more technology. There is LIDAR; we call light detection and ranging so you can see a laser pointing out to look at features on earth. You have the third dimension of height. There is radar; there is high resolution commercial imagery. There are all sorts of new technology coming up. When we talk about ecosystems, there are so many different aspects and what I am looking at is more trees, forests and woodlands and grasslands. We are looking at carbon stocks and how that change interacts with climate and what we’ve done is on the San Carlos Apache Tribe. We are really fortunate to work with the local tribe because they are really interested in their Ponderosa Pine, that’s their chamber, their economy and of course, they are facing the drought and climate change. My heart is that I want to learn about climate change and how climate impacts eco systems, so I think they are really interested in knowing how much carbon is there, what kind of vegetation is there, how that changes over time and what they can do to minimize the impacts of adverse impacts of climate change.