Surface freshwaters support rich biodiversity and provide many important ecosystem services. Documented warming of inland waters is widespread and can reduce water quality and negatively impact cold-water fish. While national-scale monitoring programs exist for the Nation’s rivers and streams (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/), lake temperature monitoring is comparatively rare.
Climate and Land Cover Change
This project addresses several questions using a unique opportunity to analyze prefire and postfire lidar remote sensing. The Pole Creek fire burned 27,000 acres through various forest types in October 2012 in Deschutes National Forest near Sisters, Oregon. Lidar data of the area had been fortuitously collected prior to the wildfire, offering a unique and high profile opportunity to investigate fire disturbance impacts and processes with high resolution data.
Lidar is a remote sensing tool that can be used to model both the vertical and horizontal distribution of vegetation, allowing researchers to quantify habitat complexity for species residing in forest canopies. USGS researchers and collaborators used lidar data to estimate occupancy probability for the threatened marbled murrelet in Oregon Coast Range forests. Their goal was to provide an improved estimate of available nesting habitat by developing occupancy maps based on refined habitat measurements derived from the lidar data.
Anthropogenic and natural disturbance have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, leading to population declines of greater sage-grouse. USGS ecologist Steve Knick is leading a new study using GPS and cell phone technology to determine how sage-grouse move through a landscape. Data collected from conventional radio-tracking systems are not precise enough to understand how landscape features influence actual movements.
National Geographic released a story about tracking animal migrations on its education Web site (http://education.nationalgeographic.com/media/richmedia/0/196/project/geo-story-animal-migrations.html).
USGS scientists participated in a meeting of the Cooperative Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (CMER) committee on November 19, 2013, in Tumwater, Washington. CMER is responsible for conducting research and monitoring in support of adaptive management of the Forest Practices Rules, which govern forestry practices on private and State forest lands in Washington State.
Energy and Minerals
In July 2014, USGS collected 2,000 line km of hyperspectral data in the Arctic and Nabesna areas of Alaska. The project, supported by the USGS Mineral Resources Program, will locate and characterize previously unknown areas of mineralization using airborne hyperspectral remote sensing data. The use of hyperspectral data supports the development of a strategy to more broadly evaluate mineralized zones and their environmental footprints, and to produce better geologic maps utilizing modern geophysical and geochemical analytical tools.
As part of an effort to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the USGS is conducting a comprehensive national assessment of potentials for carbon (C) sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions (CO2, CH4, and N2O). This assessment covers all major terrestrial ecosystems (forests, grasslands/shrublands, agricultural lands, and wetlands) and aquatic ecosystems (rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters) from 2001 to 2050 in the eastern United States.
This is an interdisciplinary effort to assess ecosystem carbon sequestration capacity for all domestic ecosystems as a function of climate, land use, land management and disturbances. The integrated assessment relies on existing data collected by various national inventory, monitoring, and remote sensing programs. The USGS is conducting research in collaboration with multiple partners to improve understanding of carbon cycling processes, assessment methodology capabilities, and uncertainties related to data, model, and existing knowledge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently issued its first permit to allow take (a set number of inadvertent deaths) of golden eagles at a wind power facility. Fatality monitoring will be conducted, but accurately estimating whether the permitted take has been exceeded can only be achieved when the probability of carcass detection is high. In July 2014, USGS launched new research to investigate whether unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, can be more efficient than field surveys for detecting golden eagle carcasses.