Enceladus has active eruptions of water ice that create and sustain the famous rings of Saturn. The jets of water are fed from a global ocean hidden underneath a thick shell of ice. Further studies of the interior of this fascinating "ocean world" will need to better combine data from the various instruments on the now defunct Cassini spacecraft.
The USGS has been working with the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) team to locate the most promising deposits of water ice for future human colonies on Mars. By carefully targeting and analyzing the 25-centimeter/pixel images, the team discovered 100-meter-tall cliffs of almost pure water ice in locations that should be accessible to Mars landers (not too far from the equator and not too high in elevation).
High-resolution digital elevation models generated from airborne lidar are often used for studying dynamics specific to barrier islands, including assessing morphology, extracting shorelines, and mapping habitats. While airborne lidar data have revolutionized the spatial scale for which elevations can be realized, elevation uncertainty limitations are often magnified in digital elevation models in coastal settings. For instance, researchers have found digital elevation models produced from airborne lidar can have a vertical uncertainty as high as 60 centimeters in densely vegetated marsh.
Barrier islands provide numerous invaluable ecosystem services, including storm protection and erosion control for the mainland, habitat for fish and wildlife, salinity regulation in estuaries, carbon sequestration in marsh, recreation, and tourism. These islands are dynamic environments due to their position at the land-sea interface.
The lack of Pacific Islands topographic (land elevation) and bathymetric (water depth) information led Department of the Interior (DOI) researchers to use advanced remote sensing technologies to develop a topobathymetric digital elevation model (TBDEM) for Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. With a maximum natural elevation of only 3 meters (m), Majuro Atoll is extremely vulnerable to changes in sea level, tsunamis, storm surge, and coastal flooding.
During the spring of 2014, about 105,000 acre-feet (130 million cubic meters) of water were released from the Morelos Dam in the United States into the lower Colorado River into Mexico, allowing water to reach the Colorado River Delta and Gulf of California for the first time in 13 years.
Approximately 90% of the naturally occurring wetlands in California’s Central Valley (including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta) have been lost due to land use change, yet the area remains a critical landscape for migratory waterbirds through a complex system of managed wetlands and post-harvest flooded agriculture. USGS researchers are working with The Nature Conservancy, the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and the U.S.
Data suggest that long-tailed duck populations are in decline. As a result, efforts have been made to better understand their population distributions through satellite telemetry studies. In previous studies, radiomarked tracking of long-tailed ducks suggested little use of Lake Michigan, even though aerial surveys indicate that large concentrations of this species overwinter there.
New approaches to habitat characterization are needed to address questions about ecosystems effectively and cost-efficiently, particularly in montane ecosystems where rapid changes in community assemblages have coincided with recent warming trends. Talus provides unique and essential habitat for several montane species but is inadequately mapped to support studies of ecosystem dynamics.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is an umbrella organization of 33 community conservancies that stretch across the arid and semiarid landscape of northern Kenya. The NRT conservancies protect iconic species such as elephants, rhino, giraffe, cheetah, Grevy’s zebra, hirola, and oryx while supporting a pastoralist, livestock-dominated region in which people’s livelihoods depend on access to grazing areas.