Technology development to support a national early warning system for environmental threats
PARTNERS: NASA Stennis Space Center; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; University of North Carolina Asheville’s (UNCA) National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center; USGS EROS Data Center; USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Forest Inventory and Analysis, Forest Health Monitoring, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, and Remote Sensing Applications Center
SUMMARY: The early warning system is an ongoing monitoring project that detects forest threats across the continental United States using remote sensing and geographic information systems. The system will help forest managers identify large scale forest changes faster, allowing them to use traditional methods to confirm and determine the nature and severity of the forest threat.
EFETAC's ROLE: EFETAC is contributing the design concept, development, sponsorship, production management, interpretation, and technology transfer.
PROGRESS: Scientists and collaborators have launched ForWarn, the strategic research component of the national early warning system. ForWarn produces maps showing potential forest disturbance across the conterminous United States at 231-meter resolution every 8 days, based on images obtained over the preceding 24-day analysis window. Maps of potential disturbance result from comparisons of historical expectations of normal vegetation greenness with greenness from a series of current satellite views. ForWarn's Forest Change Assessment Viewer is a prototype website that showcases recent national disturbance maps in spatial context. Although all but forest vegetation is usually masked out of disturbance maps, ForWarn detects and tracks disturbances in all vegetation, including potential disturbances in rangeland vegetation and agricultural crops.
Researchers continue to test, verify, and validate ForWarn products through a series of Tasks, including: 1. completion of an initial mountain pine beetle (MPB) case study, which has been extended into a second MPB-impacted area, 2. adaptive length compositing to determine and utilize the best length of the satellite image compositing period for the current 24-day window, and 3. retrospective computing of standard ForWarn products for the entire MODIS satellite imagery period (year 2000-present). Successful development and implementation of these three Tasks are expected to realize significant improvements in the performance of ForWarn. Researchers are also using ForWarn for several applications, including: national evergreen thrive/decline modeling, hemlock woolly adelgid modeling in the southern Appalachians, monitoring long term fire effects and successional predictions, and mapping seasonal variation in leaf phenology in the southern Appalachians.
Bill Hargrove, EFETAC Ecologist, firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-257-4846
Updated November 2012