GEODE lead Scott Goetz honored as AGU fellow!

Congratulations are in store for our very own Scott Goetz who was officially inducted as an American Geophysical Union (AGU) fellow this December in San Francisco. This is an honor bestowed on only 1/10th of 1% of AGU members, so Scott is in prestigious company. We at the GEODE lab know Scott is more than deserving of this award, and we are proud to call him our lab lead and now, an AGU fellow!

We celebrated Scott and the other fellows and honorees with a night of festivities including an award ceremony, banquet, champagne toast, dancing and good fun and conversation amongst friends and colleagues.

Congrats Scott!

Scott (middle), Logan Berner and Katie Orndahl enjoy the AGU honors banquet
Scott officially crosses the stage to become an AGU fellow
Good company!

The GEODE lab is hiring!

The GEODE Lab in the Ecological Informatics program at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff) is seeking a Postdoctoral Scholar to work on a range of projects.  We seek someone with strong technical skills to make extensive use of remote sensing image and lidar data in a high performance computing environment, advancing projects focused on mapping, monitoring and modeling broad scale ecosystem changes, incorporating climate, land use, disturbance and landscape connectivity.  A PhD degree in a relevant discipline is required.  For additional information, and to apply, see here.

The view from space: how are wildfires affecting boreal forest composition and climate warming?

Scenes from Alaskan boreal forests showing dominant conifers (left) and deciduous trees (right). Photo credit: Logan Berner

A recent study led by former GEODE lab postdoctoral researcher Richard Massey and published in Nature Climate Change takes a space borne look at how wildfires are shaping boreal forests. Using imagery from satellites and thousands of on-the-ground observations, the study authors (which include GEODE lead Scott Goetz, GEODE assistant professor Logan Berner, Ecoss Regents’ professor Michelle Mack, Ecoss assistant professor Xanthe Walker, and Brendan Rogers and Sol Cooperdock from Woodwell Climate Research Center) tracked changes in the fraction of deciduous tree cover across the North American boreal biome. Past research has shown that fires tend to shift forest composition towards deciduous tree cover, which ultimately has a cooling effect on the climate. The results from space suggest that although post-fire deciduous take-over occurs in the short term, deciduous trees are replaced again by conifers over longer time scales. Over the large spatiotemporal scale of the study, there was little overall change in forest composition. This suggests that despite dynamic changes occurring at local scales, large scale forest composition changes are not yet driving climate cooling across the North American boreal.

“There are tremendous dynamics taking place, but when we tally those all up, the net feedbacks to climate were fairly small.”

Scott Goetz, Regents’ professor

Read more about the research from NAU News.

Vegetation phenology with Dr. Logan Berner

GEODE member Dr. Logan Berner discussed vegetation phenology with NASA’s GLOBE Program as part of their Phenology Scientist Interview series for K-12 students.

GEODE member Dr. Logan Berner recently discussed vegetation phenology with NASA’s GLOBE Program as part of their Phenology Scientist Interview series for K-12 students. Watch here to see what Logan had to say about the importance of phenology and what inspired him to become a scientist. You can check out interviews with other phenology scientists at the GLOBE Phenology Campaign website.

GEODE lead Scott Goetz elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Our very own GEODE lead and NAU Regents’ professor Scott Goetz was recently elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). AGU is a global community of more than half a million advocates and professionals in the Earth and space sciences. The AGU Fellows program honors members who have made exceptional contributions to science. Fellows make up only 1/10th of 1% of the current year active AGU membership, and are considered the foremost experts in their field. Scott was elected for advancing understanding of changes in the global terrestrial biosphere using remote sensing observations. He and the other honorees will be recognized at AGU23 in San Francisco, December 11-15.

A well deserved honor, and congratulations to Scott!

Landscape-scale benefits of protected areas for tropical biodiversity

At the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada this past winter, nations committed to protecting 30% of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030.

The ’30 x 30′ goal relies on the creation of protected areas, but uncertainties remain about the effectiveness of these protected areas. Encouragingly, recent research led by Jedediah Brodie at the University of Montana, and contributed to by GEODE members Scott Goetz, Patrick Burns, Patrick Jantz, Chris Hakkenberg and Zaneta Kaszta suggests protected areas are associated with higher vertebrate biodiversity. Not only that, but researchers also found that large protected areas were associated with increased mammal diversity in adjacent unprotected areas, a concept called ‘spillover.’

Learn more here, or head straight to the science!

a) PAs such as national parks can reduce habitat loss and degradation (from logging) and extractive behaviors such as hunting (shown in red circle), but there are a wide range of real-world outcomes based on management effectiveness. b) PAs are aimed at safeguarding multiple facets of biodiversity, including species richness (SR), functional richness (FR) and phylogenetic diversity (PD). c) Wildlife communities inside PAs and in the surrounding landscape may exhibit distinct levels and types of diversity.

Mapping an uncertain future for Arctic boreal forests

Ecological memory stored in a landscape can help an ecosystem recover from disturbances like fire and outbreaks of disease. But what happens when climate warming disrupts that process? How long before ecological memories stored in the warming Arctic are overwritten by new ones, and what does that mean for the Arctic’s future? 

A team led by NAU investigators Michelle Mack, Ted Schuur, Xanthe Walker and GEODE members Logan Berner and Scott Goetz has been awarded $9.6M from the National Science Foundation to study how Alaska’s boreal forests are adapting to a changing climate, and how humans influence the future of these ecosystems.

Read the full story here!

Ancient subarctic forests at risk from climate change and war

Data from satellite imagery suggests a boreal forest biome shift might be underway. Boreal “greening” was found predominantly along the coldest, northernmost margins of the boreal forest biome, whereas “browning” was found most often along the warmest, southern margins of the biome. Read the full paper here:

Great read about the perils faced by Earth’s boreal forest. On one front, climate change threatens these northernmost forests, causing increasing wildfire activity, permafrost thaw, biome shifts and carbon release. Complicating matters is the Russia-Ukraine war, which stymies international collaboration and “black boxes” Russia’s half of our boreal forests.

Read the full story here.

GEODE lead Scott Goetz and assistant research professor Logan Berner contributed to the reporting, as did a wide array of scientists and land managers from across the globe.