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: June

Mapping Impact of Urbanization in the Continental U.S. from 2001-2020

Lahouari Bounoua, Josesph Nigro, Ping Zhang, Kurtis ThomePopulation Change and ISA Change in the western and northeastern United States

Population and ISA % in major US cities

Synopsis: We used data fusion from Landsat and MODIS to characterize US buildup and to derive a plausible 2020 impervious surface area (ISA) projection based on observed rates of ISA change as a function of population from 2006 to 2011. The analysis shows that urbanization in the U.S. implicitly includes a ‘cultural character’ whereby depending on the region, cities are either built horizontally with large ISA per capita or vertically with a minimal spatial footprint. This ‘cultural character’ can also be forced by land availability, topography and inland water. In other regions, cities seem to have adapted to their population growth and adjusted their ISA use per capita.

Click here to read the full research highlight.


Latest News: Dr. Assaf Anyamba (USRA/618) has used MODIS NDVI data to evaluate the increased risk of mosquito-borne illness in the Arabian Peninsula during 2016. Wetter than normal weather has led to increased vegetation, and potentially, more favorable habitat for mosquitos. Full story.

Click here for past news.

Weekly Highlights: June 27th

Project News:

Morton. Doug Morton (618), Niels Andela (618/UC-Irvine), Jim Randerson (UC-Irvine), and Yang Chen (UC-Irvine) released their 2016 Amazon Fire Season Severity Forecast on Wednesday, June 27th. The Amazon region is forecast to have extreme fire risk in 2016, based on reductions in wet season rainfall from the lingering impacts of the 2015-2016 El Niño. NASA’s GRACE satellites and gauge stations both suggest that the region is drier at the start of the fire season in 2016 than in previous Amazon droughts during the GRACE record (2005, 2010). To track fires and fire emissions from the southern Amazon in near real time, see the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) Updates page, designed by Anika Halota (618/SSAI).

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: Ian Paynter, Thursday, August 04th, 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.