Biospheric Sciences - 618


Biospheric Sciences is a part of the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Biospheric Sciences studies terrestrial ecosystems and their interactions with the atmosphere using multiscale remote sensing, modeling, and advanced analytical techniques.

Biospheric Sciences Laboratory studies terrestrial ecosystems and their interactions with the atmosphere using multiscale remote sensing, modeling, and advanced analytical techniques. Specifically:

  1. develops and utilizes satellite remote sensing, aircraft and ground instruments to measure variables that describe the temporal and spatial dynamics of natural ecosystems as well as human impacts on these systems, especially the vegetation condition (e.g., land cover, height, biomass, photosynthetic capacity), soils (e.g., soil condition and type), and links to atmospheric constituents (e.g., aerosols, CO2;
  2. develops mathematical models that use space-borne, airborne and ground observations to predict land surface conditions and processes related to rates of vegetation, soil, and atmosphere exchanges (e.g., radiation, heat, water, greenhouse gases, net primary productivity);
  3. acquires, produces, and distributes comprehensive, integrated land data sets incorporating ground, airborne, and/or satellite observations to facilitate model development and validation;
  4. ensures the scientific integrity of new Earth remote sensing systems to improve space-based Earth observation; and
  5. performs research which leads to the definition and development of new technologies, sensors, and missions. Through the above activities, assesses and predicts environmental changes due to natural and anthropogenic processes at local to global scales.

Research Highlights: February

Field Portable, SI-Traceable Transfer Radiometer

Kurt Thome1, Brian Wenny2, Nik Anderson3 and Jeff Czapla-Myers(1: Biospheric Sciences Lab, NASA GSFC , 2: SSAI, 3: University of Arizona)

A small portable transfer radiometer has been developed for one-person operation (Figure 1) to evaluate health of field radiometers; characterize the surface-leaving radiance; and assess SI-traceable error budgets for predictions of top-of-atmosphere reflectance. The intitial deployment of the transfer radiometer proved its portability and operation as well as radiometric agreement with retrievals of surface reflectance (Figure 2, top) and for use in predicting satellite-based radiance retrievals (Figure 2, bottom).

Click here to read the full research highlight.


Latest News: Brent Holben returned from a trip to Namibia to check on and maintain sun photometers installed for the AERONET project. The project and trip are highlighted in a NASA Earth Expeditions article titled "Into Africa Seeking the Desert Sun".

The sun photometer set up over a desert backdrop.

Click here for past news.

Weekly Highlights: Jan. 30th

Published or Accepted Papers:

Poulter. Arneth, A, S Sitch, J Pongratz, BD Stocker, P Ciais, B Poulter (618), AD Bayer, A Bondeau, L Calle, LP Chini, T Gasser, M Fader, P Friedlingstein, E Kato, W Li, M Lindeskog, JEMS Nabel, TAM Pugh, E Robertson, N Viovy, C Yue, and S Zaehle. 2017. Historical carbon dioxide emissions caused by land-use changes are possibly larger than assumed. Nature Geoscience.


Delgado. On January 23, 2017, Sabrina Delgado Arias (618) presented, on behalf of the ICESat-2 applications team, an overview of the ICESat-2 Applications Program initiatives and the Early Adopter research in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is part of the Uses of Earth Observations and Geospatial Information to Support Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals session chaired by Lawrence Friedl (NASA ESD, Washington DC) for the 12th Symposium on Societal Applications: Policy, Research and Practice hosted during the 97th American Meteorological Society annual meeting. More information

Click here for more research highlights.

Brown Bag Seminars

Brown Bag Seminars are initiated as an informal forum to present your new work or updates to your 618 colleagues.

Seminars are typically held on Thursdays between 12:00 and 1:00 PM.

Next Seminar: Tomomichi Kato, Wednesday, March 01st, 2017

Please check the calendar for a list of past and upcoming seminars.

Contact Us

For administrative or other support questions, click here.

Contact information for scientists can be found in the personnel list.