Biospheric Sciences - 618


Biospheric Sciences is a part of the Hydrospheric, Biospheric, and Geophysics 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

Utilizing Spectral Imagery to Examine High Latitude Ecosystem Function and Diversity

K. F. Huemmrich1, P. K. E. Campbell1, S. A. Vargas Z.2, C. E. Tweedie2, E.M. Middleton3

Figure 1
Hyperspectral imagery addresses questions of terrestrial ecosystem diversity, biochemistry, and function in critical Arctic tundra regions.
  • Plant type distribution affects animal species distributions, (e.g., caribou), and ecosystem responses to climate change and thawing permafrost.
  • Biochemistry responds to environmental conditions, such as soil nutrients and water availability.
  • Ecosystem function reveals the spatial patterns for productivity over an area often considered a single vegetation type in models.

Click here to read the full research highlight

Weekly Highlights: May 3rd

Significant Events/Presentations:

Soebiyanto. Radina Soebiyanto (618/USRA) presented on "Bioclimatic Indicators for Vector-Borne Diseases" at Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) 7th Annual Disease Modeling Symposium, Bellevue, WA. April 15 - Wednesday April 17, 2019.

External Interactions:

Colstoun. Eric Brown de Colstoun (618) and Lucas Brown de Colstoun (Montgomery Blair HS) organized and led citizen science activities at the recent Earth Day celebration at Maryland International School in Elkridge MD, a STEM-focused private school in Howard County. Participants took part in a pacing activity to determine general relationships between height and pace length. Participants then paced and sampled a Landsat pixel on the ground to help validate Dr. Brown de Colstoun's global impervious surface map from Landsat. The activities were organized around the protocols of the GLOBE educational program ( and also used the NASA GLOBE Observer (GO) Land Cover citizen science mobile phone app ( The goals are to develop and assess simple methods to use citizen/student acquired data for NASA land cover/use science.

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 Wednesdays between 12:00 and 1:00 PM.

Next Seminar: Dr. Petr LukeŇ°, Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

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.