Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

We propose to model ecosystem stress precursors to epidemic disturbances by conducting a new synthesis of prior NASA investments in remote sensing, modeling, and climatology. Our method will be generalizable for many disturbance systems; here we will develop and implement our approach using the bark beetle (Scolytinae [Coleoptera: Curculionidae]) forest disturbance system in western North America. Bark beetles are a societally relevant disturbance because they are spectacularly destructive, ecologically well-studied, and likely to respond to changing climates. We will use a combination of three main methods: (1) for forested areas of the North America west of 100W longitude, 1km resolution ensemble simulations of ecosystem stress metrics derived from prognostic (run without remote sensing) and diagnostic (run with remote sensing) models; (2) gridded estimates of bark beetle disturbance from 1980 to 2007 derived from aerial detection surveys and NASA remote sensing; and (3) conditional probability modeling to link stress metrics, including lagged effects, to bark beetle disturbance. We will conduct research at the scale of ecoregions; depending on the analysis, results will be presented within- or among-ecoregions. Through the use of ensemble approaches and scaling analyses we will consider uncertainties and accuracy assessment for each methodology. Using these approaches, our central questions will be: 1. What ecosystem forcings increase the probability of outbreaks? 2. Are there non-linear or threshold forcings of epidemic outbreaks? 3. Can a comparison of prognostic and diagnostic models be used to identify disturbance effects on subsequent ecosystem function? 4. Which extrinsic climate forcings are most responsible for ecosystem stress leading to epidemic outbreaks? 5. What is the likely response of bark beetle disturbance to climate change? Our proposed work strongly leverages other NASA investments, will produce results leading to improved disturbance processes in prognostic ecological and climate models, and illustrates the ability of NASA research, data, and remote sensing to address compelling societal questions. Our research is also responsive to programmatic and agency goals: for the Terrestrial Ecology program, we respond to section 2.2, Integrative Studies, which seeks proposals “that offer to conduct a new or to enhance an ongoing synthesis of past research results”; for Earth Science, we study carbon cycles and ecosystems, water and energy cycles, climate variability and change, and weather; for NASA, our research will “Study planet Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs”.

Project PI: Michael White/Utah State University

Department of Watershed Science 5210 Old Main Hill Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-5240

Phone: (435) 797-3794

Fax: (702) 797-1871



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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 10, 2010


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