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Marco Polo Argali Habitat in the Eastern Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan

Download free GIS datasets for the Southeastern Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan

Title: Geographic Layers as Landscape Drivers for the Marco Polo Argali Habitat in the Southeastern Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan

Download free maps and GIS dataset here.
Download the paper here.

To cite the paper:
Salas, E.A.L.; Valdez, R.; Boykin, K.G. Geographic Layers as Landscape Drivers for the Marco Polo Argali Habitat in the Southeastern Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2015, 4, 2094-2108.
Keywords: Tajikistan Pamirs; remote sensing; Landsat; vegetation; pasture; GIS analysis; Free GIS maps; bighorn sheep; Free sheep GIS dataset

Landsat 9 Satellite To Launch in 2023 To Continue Land Imaging Legacy

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have started work on Landsat 9, planned to launch in 2023, which will extend the Earth-observing program’s record of land images to half a century.

The Landsat program has provided accurate measurements of Earth’s land cover since 1972. With data from Landsat satellites, ecologists have tracked deforestation in South America, water managers have monitored irrigation of farmland in the American West, and researchers have watched the growth of cities worldwide. With the help of the program’s open archive, firefighters have assessed the severity of wildfires and scientists have mapped the retreat of mountain glaciers.

The President’s fiscal year 2016 budget calls for initiation of a Landsat 9 spacecraft as an upgraded rebuild of Landsat 8, as well as development of a low-cost thermal infrared (TIR) free-flying satellite for launch in 2019 to reduce the risk of a data gap in this important measurement. The TIR free flyer will ensure data continuity by flying in formation with Landsat 8. The budget also calls for the exploration of technology and systems innovations to provide more cost effective and advanced capabilities in future land-imaging missions beyond Landsat 9, such as finding ways to miniaturize instruments to be launched on smaller, less expensive satellites.

“Moving out on Landsat 9 is a high priority for NASA and USGS as part of a sustainable land imaging program that will serve the nation into the future as the current Landsat program has done for decades,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “Continuing the critical observations made by the Landsat satellites is important now and their value will only grow in the future, given the long term environmental changes we are seeing on planet Earth.”

Because an important part of the land imaging program is to provide consistent long-term observations, this mission will largely replicate its predecessor Landsat 8. The mission will carry two instruments, one that captures views of the planet in visible, near infrared and shortwave-infrared light, and another that measures the thermal infrared radiation, or heat, of Earth’s surfaces. These instruments have sensors with moderate resolution and the ability to detect more variation in intensity than the first seven satellites in the Landsat program.

The Landsat 9 mission is a partnership between NASA and the USGS. NASA will build, launch, perform the initial check-out and commissioning of the satellite; USGS will operate Landsat 9 and process, archive, and freely distribute the mission’s data.

"Landsat is a remarkably successful partnership," said Sarah Ryker, USGS deputy associate director for climate and land use change, Reston, Virginia. "Last year the White House found that GPS, weather satellites, and Landsat are the three most critical types of Earth-orbiting assets for civil applications, because they're used by many economic sectors and fields of research. Having Landsat 9 in progress, and a long-term commitment to sustainable land imaging, is great for natural resource science and for data-driven industries such as precision agriculture and insurance."

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will lead development of the Landsat 9 flight segment. Goddard will also build the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), which will be similar to the TIRS that the center built for Landsat 8. The new improved TIRS will have a five-year design lifetime, compared to the three-year design lifetime of the sensor on Landsat 8.

"This is good news for Goddard, and it’s great news for the Landsat community to get the next mission going," said Del Jenstrom, the Landsat 9 project manager at NASA Goddard. "It will provide data consistent with, or better than, Landsat 8."

With decades of observations, scientists can tease out subtle changes in ecosystems, the effects of climate change on permafrost, changes in farming technologies, and many other activities that alter the landscape.

“With a launch in 2023, Landsat 9 would propel the program past 50 years of collecting global land cover data,” said Jeffrey Masek, Landsat 9 Project Scientist at Goddard. "That’s the hallmark of Landsat: the longer the satellites view the Earth, the more phenomena you can observe and understand. We see changing areas of irrigated agriculture worldwide, systemic conversion of forest to pasture – activities where either human pressures or natural environmental pressures are causing the shifts in land use over decades.”

"We have recognized for the first time that we’re not just going to do one more, then stop, but that Landsat is actually a long-term monitoring activity, like the weather satellites, that should go on in perpetuity," Masek said.

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information on the Landsat program, visit: http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov

SOURCE NASA, Landsat

Multiple Satellites to Track Algal Threat to U.S. Freshwater

Four federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey have joined forces in an effort to transform satellite data into vital information to protect the American public from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.

The $3.6 million research project is a collaborative effort among NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and USGS. Using methods and technology established to analyze ocean color satellite data, scientists from the four agencies will work to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and build an information distribution system to expedite public health advisories.

Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and noxious taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.

“Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “USGS uses converging lines of evidence from ground to space to assess changes in water quantity and quality, ecosystems, natural hazards, and environmental health issues important to the nation.”

Ocean color satellite data are currently available to scientists, but are not routinely processed and produced in formats that help state and local environmental and water quality managers. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms developed by the partner agencies will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals.

“The vantage point of space not only contributes to a better understanding of our home planet, it helps improve lives around the world,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We’re excited to be putting NASA’s expertise in space and scientific exploration to work protecting public health and safety.”

The new network builds on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study the global ocean’s microscopic algal communities, which play a major role in ocean ecology, the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean, and climate change. These sensors detect the color of the sunlit upper layer of the ocean and are used to create indicators that can help identify harmful algal blooms.

NOAA and NASA pioneered the use of satellite data to monitor and forecast harmful algal blooms. Satellites allow for more frequent observations over broader areas than water sampling. Satellite data support NOAA’s existing forecasting systems in the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes.

“Observing harmful algae is critical to understanding, managing, and forecasting these blooms. This collaboration will assure that NOAA’s efforts will assist the coastal and inland public health officials and managers across the country to distribute this information to the community in an easily understandable fashion,” said Holly Bamford, acting NOAA Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management and Deputy Administrator in Washington.

Under certain environmental conditions, algae naturally present in marine and fresh waters rapidly multiply to create a bloom. Some species of algae called cyanobacteria produce toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater or by the consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish. Cyanobacteria blooms are a particular concern because of their dense biomass, toxins, taste, and odor.

“EPA researchers are developing important scientific tools to help local communities respond quickly and efficiently to real-time water quality issues and protect drinking water for their residents,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Working with other federal agencies, we are leveraging our scientific expertise, technology and data to create a mobile app to help water quality managers make important decisions to reduce negative impacts related to harmful algal blooms, which have been increasingly affecting our water bodies due to climate change.”

The project also includes a research component to improve understanding of the environmental causes and health impacts of cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms across the United States. Blooms in lakes and estuaries are produced when aquatic plants receive excess nutrients under suitable environmental conditions. Various land uses, such as urbanization and agricultural practices, change the amount of nutrients and sediment delivered in watersheds, which can influence cyanobacterial growth.

Researchers will compare the new freshwater algal blooms data with satellite records of land cover changes over time to identify specific land-use activities that may have caused environmental changes linked to the frequency and intensity of blooms. The results will help to develop better forecasts of bloom events.

“Algal blooms pose an expensive, unpredictable public health threat that can affect millions of people,” said Sarah Ryker, USGS Deputy Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change. “By using satellite-based science instruments to assess conditions in water and on adjacent land, we hope to improve detection of these blooms and to better understand the conditions under which they occur.” 

The Landsat satellite series, a joint effort of USGS and NASA, has provided a continuous dataset of land use and land cover conditions since 1972. The latest satellite, Landsat 8, has demonstrated promising new capabilities for water quality assessment.

SOURCE USGS

USGS Seeks Proposals for Earthquake Science

The U.S. Geological Survey expects to award up to $7 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2016.

“The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program annually provides grants to support research targeted toward improving our understanding of earthquake processes, hazards and risks,” said Bill Leith, USGS Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. “We seek cutting-edge proposals that will further our efforts to reduce losses from earthquakes, provide more accurate and timely earthquake information and forecasts and better inform the public about earthquake safety.”
Interested researchers can apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G15AS00037. Applications are due May 19, 2015.

Every year the USGS awards earthquake research grants to universities, state geological surveys and private institutions. Past projects included:

  • trench investigations to better understand the size and age of large earthquakes between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah;
  • the application of innovative techniques to map seismic hazards near the nation’s capital;
  • exploring the use of rapid and precise GPS recordings to improve earthquake early warning;
  • analysis of the potential for large earthquakes in the Gorgonio Pass, an area of complex faulting east of San Bernardino, California;
  • investigation of recent earthquake activity along major fault lines crossing southeast Alaska; and
  • studies to characterize and understand the causes of potentially induced earthquakes in California, Kansas, Wyoming, Texas, and Ohio.
complete list of funded projects and reports can be found on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program external research support website.

SOURCE: USGS

Apply and Join The International Earth-Doc team

An international group of inter-disciplinary postdoc researchers advancing the next generation of integrated Earth System science towards global sustainability: through World-Earth Systems modeling

An Earth League Initiative

The Earth League is setting out to advance the next generation of integrated Earth System analysis. This is in response to the current urgent need to deepen our understanding of potential pathways and transformations within this increasingly turbulent Anthropocene towards future world development on a resilient and stable planet.

Therefore, we are embarking on a joint state-of-the-art World-Earth Systems modeling and analysis program, igniting the deeper fusion of biophysical systems and human dynamics. For this, Earth League invites applicants for 7 postdoc research positions, to be known as Earth-Docs. For further information on the rationale behind this program, please see here.

We appeal for excellent young scientists from different backgrounds in sustainability research, with the ability to bring powerful contributions to areas including:

·       Integrated Earth System modeling
·       Global governance and economics for sustainability
·       Sustainable energy, and technological and societal transformations
·       Global equity, human security and human behavior

This initial group of 7 postdoc researchers will be hosted by 5 Earth League member institutions:

·       Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany (1 position)
·       Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden (1 position)
·       Centre for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, China (2 positions)
·       Earth system science centre, INPE, Brazil (2 positions)
·       HZG/Climate Service Centre 2.0, Germany (1 position)

The Earth-Docs will form one international team carrying out their research within the Earth League World-Earth Systems program.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) will function as a collaborative global hub for the Earth-Doc team, gathering the group of young scientists 1-2 times per year for joint scientific work sessions.

Each Earth-Doc will have at least 2 senior supervisors from the group of leading Earth League scientists leading the overall scientific program.

Applications should include:

·       Cover letter
·       CV
·       1-2 page vision on your perspective of the scientific challenge within Earth system modeling for global sustainability
·       The names and contact information of two referees
·       Indication of preferred host institution, from those listed above

For those interested in applying to Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK), please follow this link.Those interested in the position hosted at Earth system science centre at INPE must be aware that funding must be applied for separately, however this will happen with full support and guidance of INPE.

Applicants should have a doctorate in a related field, and fluent written and oral skills in English. Attributes should also include strong team building skills, intellectual leadership, and the ability and enthusiasm to travel as well as to work within an international network of scholars.

The Earth-Doc positions will start at different times this year, according to the timeframes of each host institution. Position duration and payments will also vary according to the conditions offered by the different institutions.

We are looking to create a diverse and rich team. Therefore, we encourage applications from all geographical backgrounds, gender affiliations, as well as those with disabilities.

Deadline for submission: 1st May 2015.

Please send submissions by email to: earthdoc@the-earth-league.org

For any queries, please contact the Earth League Secretariat using the same email address.

Landsat 8 'Remote Sensing' Journal Special Issue: Free Artcile Access

The ‎Landsat‬ 8 'Remote Sensing' Journal Special issue is now available.

A trio of Landsat calibration scientists—Brian Markham, Jim Storey, and Ron Morfitt—have guest-edited a new Landsat 8 Special Issue of the journal Remote Sensing.

From the editors:
Landsat 8 (formerly LDCM) was launched on February 11, 2013. There are two new sensors on Landsat 8: the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). Unlike historically used whisk broom scanners (as on the ETM+ sensor on Landsat 7), these new sensors are examples of push broom technology. In addition to having new instruments that have their individual characteristics and calibrations, the change in sensor technology produces significant differences in data characteristics and quality. This Special Issue aims to provide the user community with a good understanding of the radiometric and geometric properties of the Landsat 8 instruments and their data. This understanding will enable the community to effectively use the data in conjunction with data from other earlier Landsat sensors.

View 18 open access papers on topics such as:

OLI Design
OLI Spectral Characterization
OLI Absolute Radiometric Calibration and Traceability
OLI Radiometric Characterization
OLI Radiometric Cross calibration
OLI Spatial Performance Characterization
OLI Geometric Characterization and Calibration
TIRS Design
TIRS Spectral Characterization
TIRS Absolute Radiometric Calibration and Traceability
TIRS Radiometric Characterization
TIRS Radiometric Cross calibration
TIRS Spatial Performance Characterization
TIRS Geometric Characterization and Calibration
Landsat 8 integrated data product geometric performance
Landsat 8 Image Assessment System

Access the special issue here.

Featured Video

The Penn State Public Broadcasting launched the Geospatial Revolution Project, an integrated public media and outreach initiative about the impact of digital mapping. Watch two of the four high-definition video episodes that have already been released. You can visit the project via: geospatialrevolution.psu.edu.

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