Migratory species depend on a chain of habitats for survival, including breeding habitats, overwintering sites, and migratory stopover locations. Barrier islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico provide habitat for all three of these life-history phases and are important habitat for many shorebird species, such as Red Knots, Piping Plovers, and Western Sandpipers.
Ecosystems – Birds
This project focuses on the illegal artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of small and low-grade mineral and gemstone deposits. Project scientists employ field mapping, geomorphological techniques, and remote sensing to map, monitor, and evaluate mineral deposits and ASM activities in conflict zones and during complex emergencies.
Located on the border of Iran and Afghanistan, Hamun Lake is a critical source of water for communities, irrigated agriculture, and wildlife across a river basin that covers 40% of Afghanistan. Two main storage dams regulate flow and support irrigated agriculture in this river valley.
Livestock operations are typically located in areas of highly variable weather or unfavorable soil conditions that preclude farming. In areas with highly variable climate, livestock managers can benefit from local and regional estimates of forage production.
Cheatgrass is a highly flammable, prolific grass species that invades sagebrush ecosystems and creates extensive fuel beds that spread fire. The fires threaten homes, grazing lands, energy development, and wildlife habitat. To plan for upcoming fire seasons, land managers need spatially explicit maps at relevant spatial resolutions that provide early estimates of cheatgrass cover.
Fires rage through hundreds of thousands to millions of acres in sagebrush ecosystems every year in the western U.S. The number of acres burned today is substantially more than has burned during previous decades.
Exotic annual species are of concern in much of the Western U.S. because they have flexible responses to resource availability, high reproductive capacity, and propagules that are readily dispersed, particularly in disturbed areas like those created and maintained for energy development.
Land Use and Land Cover Change
Launching the Continuous Monitoring of U.S. Lands: Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP)
A capacity to monitor land surface change across the conterminous U.S. was launched by the USGS in 2019 to meet increasing demands for timely and frequent integrated land cover and change information.
Forest loss, forest succession, and wetland drying have been key issues on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula in recent decades. Spruce bark beetle outbreaks, natural and human-caused wildfires, shrub expansion, lake drying, permafrost thaw, and industrial activities have all contributed to extensive land cover change across the peninsula.
Remote Sensing Missions & Data
The goal of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is to complete acquisition of nationwide lidar (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR) in Alaska) in 8 years to provide the first-ever national baseline of consistent high-resolution elevation data—both bare earth and 3D point clouds—collected in a timeframe of less than a decade.