Biospheric Sciences (618) Research Areas

Jump: Biosphere Human Land Use , Biosphere Aerosol Dynamics , Biosphere Climate Impacts & Feedbacks , Biosphere Disturbance , Biosphere Instrument Calibration , Biosphere Land Carbon Dynamics , Biosphere Vegetation Physiology & Function , Ecologically Coupled Diseases , Rift Valley Fever in South Africa

Biosphere Human Land Use

Images of transition from double- to single-cropping & de-intensification of agriculture in Zimbabwe
Rising population and globalization have led to increased appropriation of natural ecosystems for human use. The provision of ecosystem services, including food and water security, depends on the effectiveness of land management, and the availability of information on current trends in land utilization and condition. More ›

Biosphere Aerosol Dynamics

Map of Aerosol Dynamics Instrument locations
Aerosol dynamics are a global phenomena that affect all aspects of remote sensing from the UV through the near infrared spectrum. Thus it is part of the signal for any remote sensing of vegetation, ocean and atmosphere and is critical for quantifying Earth radiative forcing. Due to the high variability of aerosols over space and time, the contribution to the signal can range from insignificant to dominant. The IPCC has reported that aerosols remain the most uncertain component to quantify the anthropogenic forcing of the earth. More ›

Biosphere Climate Impacts & Feedbacks

Graphic of Global albedo change (1700-2010) based on Land Use reconstruction
Land-atmosphere fluxes of energy, water, and carbon exert a strong control on atmospheric properties, and thus provide a key forcing for global climate. GSFC has a long history of incorporating remotely sensed data on land properties into land-atmosphere models, including the pioneering Simple Biosphere (SiB) model. This work extends to understanding how human land use, including urbanization, affects regional and global climate. More ›

Biosphere Disturbance

Map of US forests color coded by year of disturbance.
Disturbance processes such as fire, logging, and insect damage are an integral aspect of how ecosystems change through time. In addition, there is evidence for increased disturbance frequency and altered regrowth patterns due to recent climate change. These changes to disturbance regimes have significant implications for land-climate feedbacks and ecosystem services. More ›

Biosphere Instrument Calibration

GSFC laser calibration setup (Courtesy Joel McCorkel)
Teams within the Biosphric Sciences Laboratory are responsible for the characterization and calibration of NASA’s passive optical imaging instruments, including Terra and Aqua MODIS, NPP and JPSS VIIRS, EO-1 ALI/Hyperion, and Landsat. Calibration involves relating observed instrument response to physical radiance or reflectance units, and is a basic requirement for producing climate-quality biophysical products and long-term assessments of how the Earth is changing. Calibration work involves laboratory measurements (made in collaboration with the National Institute for Standards and Technology), pre-launch characterization of new instruments, and assessing on-orbit performance for years or even decades following launch. More ›

Biosphere Land Carbon Dynamics

Global land carbon flux from CASA-GFED model (Courtesy G. James Collatz)
Land vegetation plays an important role in controlling levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane. Globally, terrestrial ecosystems are thought to be contributing to the atmosphere through deforestation and biomass burning, while sequestering some through forest regrowth, woody encroachment, and growth enhancement mechanisms. However, the future evolution of carbon sources and sinks remains unknown. Research within the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory harnesses satellite remote sensing to measure current vegetation carbon stocks and understand their dynamics. More ›

Biosphere Vegetation Physiology & Function

Airborne Remote Sensing Estimates of Photosynthetic Variables from Parker Tract, North Carolina
Recent studies have advanced the ability to measure photosynthesis and related canopy pigments using optical (hyperspectral) remote sensing. These methods provide new ways of estimating plant metabolism (productivity, stress) from direct observation, and offer insights on the climate vulnerability of ecosystems. More ›

Ecologically Coupled Diseases

Map of global Land Surface Temperature Anomaly
Climate and weather fluctuations leading to extreme temperatures, storm surges, flooding, and droughts produce conditions that precipitate mosquito-borne disease epidemics directly affecting global public health. Abnormally high temperatures affect populations of mosquito disease vectors by influencing: mosquito survival; susceptibility of mosquitoes to viruses; mosquito population growth rate, distribution, and seasonality; replication and extrinsic incubation period of a virus in the mosquito; and virus transmission patterns and seasonality. More ›

Rift Valley Fever in South Africa

Map depicting Republic of South Africa Rift Valley Fever Outbreaks
The objective of this project is to collect essential data for Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) epidemiology and ecology that has been neglected by the significant amount of research previously conducted on the virus. More ›
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