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: December

Large and Persistent Reduction in Amazon Forest Carbon Stocks from Fire and Logging

Douglas Morton1, Marcos Longo2, Michael Keller2,3, Maiza Nara dos-Santos2, Veronika Leitold1, Mateus Batistella2 (1: Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA GSFC, 2: Embrapa Informatics, 3: USDA Forest Service)

Figure 2

In the largest study of biomass in the Brazilian Amazon to date, carbon stocks in intact and degraded forests were estimated using high-density airborne lidar data and inventory plots for 52 forest sites (Figure 1). Forest degradation resulted in large and persistent differences in aboveground carbon density (ACD) between intact and degraded forests, even in forests with 20+ years of regrowth following logging or fire (Figure 2). Carbon stock reductions were larger for burned forests than logged forests, especially for forests burned multiple times. Airborne lidar captured heterogeneity in degraded forest carbon stocks not identified by inventory plots or first-generation satellite biomass products—critical insights for efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

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: Nov. 1st

Published or Accepted Papers:

Bounoua. Mohammad Al-Hamdan*, Dale Quattrochi*, Lahouari Bounoua, Asia Lachir, Ping Zhang (2016) Using Landsat, MODIS and a biophysical model to evaluate LST in Urban Centers. Remote Sens. 2016, 8. *Earth Science Office at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, National Space Science and Technology Center, Huntsville, AL 35805, USA.

Middleton. E.M. Middleton, K.F. Huemmrich, D.R. Landis, T.A. Black, A.G. Barr, and J.H. McCaughey (2016). Photosynthetic efficiency of northern forest ecosystems using a MODIS-derived Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI). Remote Sensing of Environment 187:345-366.

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: Batuhan Osmanoglu & David Lagomasino, Thursday, December 08th, 2016

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.