Multiple GEOG researchers were awarded funding through NASA's Carbon Monitoring System program on a range of projects. Professor Ralph Dubayah was awarded $1.3 million for his project entitled "Pantropical structure and biomass mapping using the fusion of GEDI and TanDEM-X data". Other GEOG researchers on Dr. Dubayah's project include Associate Research Professor John Armston and Post-Doctoral Associate Wenlu Qi.
Additionally, Professor George Hurtt awarded as Co-Investigator on two other funded projects: one titled "Synthesis, Reconciliation and Assessment of CMS Prototype Products" and another titled "Continuation of CMS Applications Efforts: Stakeholder Engagement and Socioeconomic Studies on the Value of CMS Data Products for User Organizations". The abstracts for all projects are provided below.
More information about these projects and the NASA program in general can be found at the Carbon Monitoring System website.
Pantropical structure and biomass mapping using the fusion of GEDI and TanDEM-X data:
One of the key goals of the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) is to provide accurate maps of the carbon status of the Earth's forests at regional to global scales based on remote sensing data. While existing methods have produced pantropical and global forest biomass estimates, these have had exceptionally large errors that reduces their useful spatial resolution to coarse resolutions (arguably > 10 km). The major reason behind this status has been the lack of suitable satellite data on ecosystem structure that can be used to drive models that predict biomass. The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) was selected in late 2014 as an Earth Ventures mission to provide the lidar data required to vastly improve our ability to map biomass. GEDI was successfully launched in late 2018 and is now acquiring science data. Over its two-year mission GEDI will provide about 10 billion estimates of canopy structure and biomass, a vast improvement over existing products. As part of GEDI, the mission has a collaboration with the German Aerospace Center(DLR) to explore the fusion of GEDI lidar data with the Xband, interferometric data of TanDEM-X (TDX) towards producing finer resolution maps of structure and biomass (e.g. at 100 m resolution) compared to GEDI's 1 km gridded products, and whether such data may also be used to fill in GEDI gaps in coverage caused by clouds and variation in orbital sampling. This collaboration is ongoing but only towards the production of demonstration products for a few limited areas to demonstrate proof of concept. Over the past four years, the joint GEDI/DLR work has definitively affirmed the capability of this fusion to provide improved structure and biomass products at much finer resolution and higher accuracies than can be achieved by either mission by itself. Consequently, DLR has agreed to partner with us in this proposal towards the production of a global height and biomass map from fusion of GEDI and TDX data (at no cost to NASA). The overall goal of our project is to create pantropical products of canopy structure and biomass at fine resolution, jointly with DLR. The work has two main thrusts. The first, is the continued testing and application of GEDI/TDX fusion algorithms, based on established radiative transfer algorithms parameterized with GEDI data, that enable improved height estimates from TDX. The second is to create maps of biomass by relating these heights at 25 m resolution to GEDI footprint estimates of biomass, producing wall-to-wall biomass maps for the GEDI epoch. These biomass maps are then aggregated to coarser resolutions (from 1 ha to 1 km sq. to regional and countryscale) and errors are estimated using generalized hierarchical model-based inference (GHMB) as well as other methods of uncertainty estimation. The processing of pantropical TDX data will be led by DLR and the creation of height and biomass from these data will be jointly led by US and DLR scientists. The project accesses and responds to stakeholder needs through its partnering with Ecometrica and its management of the UK Space Agency's Forests 2020 project. The research effort will initially focus on the 6 partner countries in Forests 2020, and the AfriSAR area in Gabon, with eventual expansion to the entire pantropics. The project provides an unprecedented opportunity to produce the most accurate and detailed map of forest biomass yet and will serve as a solid baseline for MRV efforts and other CMS projects. It further exploits NASA's Earth Ventures investment in GEDI towards meeting the goals of the Carbon Monitoring System.
Synthesis, Reconciliation and Assessment of CMS Prototype Products:
The proposed research will prototype a synthesis and harmonization framework for existing and planned prototype products from the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) initiative. The decade-long CMS program has generated a diverse suite of carbon monitoring products that are highly inhomogeneous in nature, in terms of their domain and space-/time-scales. We argue that the time is ripe for establishing a comprehensive and multifaceted framework to evaluate and diagnose these prototype products. The overarching goals of this proposal are to: (a) develop and implement a new CMS system capability that will conduct a thorough assessment and consistency check among various prototype products along with their reported uncertainty estimates, (b) develop and apply quantitative and hypothesis-driven approaches for reconciling bottom-up and top-down CMS prototype products, including characterization of uncertainties associated with net land flux estimates, and (c) recommend refinements or design of new CMS products to fill missing links to close the carbon budget or reduce uncertainties to better inform carbon policy and management decisions. Initially, at the prototyping stage the focus will be on large-scale carbon cycle analyses and budget assessments - our proposed objectives will assess the value of CMS prototype products at global and selected regional domains over both retrospective (pre-2015) and a more contemporary (post2015) period. However, our goal is to keep the framework flexible and scalable such that it can be easily adapted to other regional, or national and local scales as opportunities arise or relevant prototype products become available.
In addition, the proposing team will engage with, and contribute to two sets of scientific assessment groups (stakeholders - GCP and WMO IG3IS). Bidirectional communication channels will be established to deliver high-level syntheses information from CMS prototype products that can contribute to ongoing activities and objectives of these stakeholders. The proposed analyses will leverage existing CMS prototype products (several of which are already archived and accessible), bring in past and current developers of these products as well as tap into the growing network of in situ, satellite sensors on orbit and airborne assets. This proposal is timely - it evaluates the state of CMS prototype products right now, how robust are the reported uncertainty estimates on these products and the refinements necessary to meet the demands and requirements of the program's end goal - "... a prototype carbon monitoring system from an Earth's system perspective."
Continuation of CMS Applications Efforts: Stakeholder Engagement and Socioeconomic Studies on the Value of CMS Data Products for User Organizations:
The overall goal of our project is the continuation of the stakeholder engagement and applications efforts started in 2013, to enable a greater impact of NASA space-based observations in science and applications in service to the nation, and global society. The Carbon Monitoring System, CMS, applications efforts have already developed and implemented successfully a CMS Applications Framework, which can be used as guidance for future CMS projects and/or by other NASA Earth science missions and programs in their stakeholder engagement and applications efforts. We plan to continue and expand the work layout in the framework, with a particular emphasis on the coordination of joint applications workshops and data tutorials on how to use CMS data products for diverse applications and under different scenarios; the publication of synthesis reports on the data needs, interests, applications, challenges, lessons learned, and impact of the use of CMS data products for the stakeholder community; the development of flow diagrams illustrating how CMS data evolves from science to beneficial support of agency decisions and operations for some specific federal government agencies; and conduct socioeconomic analysis on the impact of CMS products on earth-system process representation/improvement and uncertainty analysis, as well as the development of case studies to evaluate the socioeconomic benefits of select CMS products in advancing carbon-climate science and stakeholder organizations decision processes. We expect to answer the following research question: what are the economic impacts of utilizing CMS products to reduce uncertainty in the climate system, how does this information translate to impacts on mitigation efforts, and how can CMS products bring value to stakeholder needs and decisions? We propose to research the utility of the carbon monitoring data products for advancing carbon science, management and policy decision, and for providing guidance on key attributes of the current and potential future CMS products to the NASA CMS program. We plan to identify scientist and stakeholder interests and requirements, and to ensure that CMS engages and understands the relationships within the user community for carbon monitoring products. This will facilitate greater uptake of these products as they become available, and enhance their scientific and societal impacts. The data needs and lessons learned reports will be developed from the feedback and results of the policy speaker series seminars, and the applications workshops & data tutorials. We expect to engage the private sector and non-profit partners in these efforts, and look for long-lasting partnerships. We will also enhance the current framework that we have developed for evaluating socioeconomic benefits of archived and planned NASA CMS products with regard to their value and benefits (public, policy and socio-economic) for advancing carbonclimate science and decision-making needs. This enhancement includes using a data assimilation component in the socioeconomic evaluation framework to assess the impact of short duration (i.e. less than a decade) and limited spatial scale (i.e. ecosystem/region specific) CMS data products. The impact of this work is vital for: (1) an in-depth understanding of the real data/information needs and interests of key stakeholders related to carbon monitoring and MRV; (2) providing guidance on uses and applications to potential users of CMS data products; (3) facilitate a smooth incorporation of the CMS data products into the decision-making process of the stakeholder, and ensure that the product becomes operational within the organization; and (4) a detailed evaluation of the socioeconomic value of select CMS data products. Finally, this study will also contribute to both improving representation of key underlying processes in carbon-climate models and uncertainties in their future projections.