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Monitoring Climate Variability and Impact in NV: What's A PA Country Gal Doing in the Desert?


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How did a PA Country Gal become a science geek and end up in the desert?
What is the Desert Research Institute?
Some of my research projects include Monitoring Climate Variability, Impact of Climate on Basin Scale ET, and hot new NV research

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Monitoring Climate Variability and Impact in NV: What's A PA Country Gal Doing in the Desert?

  1. 1. Monitoring Climate Variability And Impact In NV: What's A PA Country Gal Doing In The Desert? Lynn Fenstermaker, PhD CA State Dominguez Hills Women in Science Guest Speaker Series
  2. 2. Preview 1) How did a PA Country Gal become a science geek and end up in the desert? 2) What is the Desert Research Institute? 3) Some of my research projects: - Monitoring Climate Variability - Impact of Climate on Basin Scale ET - One slide about a “hot” new NV research
  3. 3. How Did I Become a Science Geek? 1) Early childhood 4-H projects on: geology, fossils, insects and soil conservation
  4. 4. 2) The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
  5. 5. 1st Step West – PSU Soil Judging (Soil Ode to Dean Hay) Estimating Soil Texture at Practice Pit All Female (almost) PSU Team Competing at Nat’l Soil Judging Contest in NE
  6. 6. 2nd Step West: M.S. Thesis Research in Utah Diurnal Reflectance and Emittance Characteristics of a Desert Surface
  7. 7. The Move from Rural PA to Urban Desert (Courtesy of Lockheed and Google Earth) Northeastern PA Southern NV
  8. 8. Jack of All Trades B.S. Environmental Resource Management, Soil Science Emphasis Penn State University M.S. Agronomy Remote Sensing Emphasis Penn State University Ph.D. Biological Sciences Physiological Ecology Emphasis University of NV, Las Vegas
  9. 9. What is the Desert Research Institute? Nevada System of Higher Education’s Global Environment Research Institution Founded in 1959, the primary purposes of the Institute are to: • • • • • Foster and conduct fundamental scientific, economic, social or educational investigations and applied research for industry, governmental or private agencies or individuals. Encourage and foster a desire in students and faculty to conduct research. Discover and develop talent for conducting research. Acquire and disseminate knowledge related to the projects undertaken. And to promote all research for higher education and State of Nevada
  10. 10. Entrepreneurial Culture and World Class Facilities • ~559 employees with ~155 research faculty • Non-tenure / soft-money structure: • Faculty are not tenured and generate their own salaries (no state-funded positions) • Faculty bring ~$40M into Nevada’s economy! • At any given time, DRI conducts about 300 research projects worldwide. • Over 60 specialized labs & research facilities. • DRI invests ~ $1.6M annually in non-state dollars for support of UNR and UNLV graduate students.
  11. 11. Research Structure Research Divisions: • Atmospheric Sciences • Earth and Ecosystem Sciences • Hydrologic Sciences Integrated Science Centers: • Center for Advanced Visualization, Computation, and Modeling (CAVCaM) • Rogers Center for Environmental Remediation and Monitoring (CERM) • Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability (CWES) • Clean Technologies and Renewable Energy Center (CTREC)
  12. 12. (Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network) NevCAN: Measuring Climate and Environmental Response in the Great Basin Lynn Fenstermaker (DRI) Director Scotty Strachan (UNR) Operations Coordinator Science Board: J. Arnone (DRI), F. Biondi (UNR), D. Devitt (UNLV), L. Fenstermaker (DRI), R. Jasoni (DRI), B. Lyles (DRI), G. McCurdy (DRI), S. Mensing (UNR), L. Saito (UNR), S. Strachan
  13. 13. NevCAN Goal Develop standardized infrastructure with real time data collection to:  1) measure and analyze effects of climate variability and change on ecosystem and disturbance regimes  2) better quantify and model changes in water balance and supply under climate change
  14. 14. NevCAN Snake Range Transect Salt Desert Shrub West Salt Desert Shrub East Sagebrush East Subalpine East Great Basin National Park Sagebrush West Pinyon Juniper West NevCAN Transect Locations Subalpine West Montane West False Color Infrared Landsat TM May 31, 2007
  15. 15. Snake Range West Transect
  16. 16. NevCAN Snake Range Stations Salt Desert Shrub West Elevation = 1757 m; Landholder = BLM Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Artemisia tridentata Sagebrush West Elevation = 1790 m; Landholder = Long Now Foundation Artemisia tridentata, Sarcobatus vermiculatus
  17. 17. NevCAN Snake Range Stations Pinyon Juniper West Elevation: 2200 m; Landholder: BLM Pinus monophylla, Juniperus osteosperma Montane West Elevation = 2810 m; Landholder = Long Now Foundation Abies concolor, Pinus flexilis
  18. 18. NevCAN Snake Range Stations Subalpine West Elevation: 3355 m; Landholder: Long Now Foundation Pinus longaeva, Pinus flexilis Subalpine East Elevation: 3070 m; Landholder: GBNP Picea engelmannii, Populus tremuloides
  19. 19. NevCAN Snake Range Stations Sagebrush East Salt Desert Shrub East Elevation: 1560 m; Landholder: NV Land Trust; Artemisia tridentata, Bromus tectorum Elevation:1560 m, Landholder: BLM, webcam view Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Atriplex confertifolia
  20. 20. NevCAN Sheep Range Transect Subalpine (NRCS SCAN) Montane Pinyon Juniper Blackbrush Mojave Desert Shrub Las Vegas False Color Infrared Landsat TM May 15, 2007
  21. 21. Sheep Range Transect All sites on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property
  22. 22. NevCAN Sheep Range Stations Cont. Mojave Desert Shrub Elevation: 900 m; Landholder: US FWS Larrea tridentata, Ambrosia dumosa Blackbrush Elevation: 1670 m; Landholder: US FWS Yucca brevifolia, Atriplex canescens, Coleogyne ramosissima
  23. 23. NevCAN Sheep Range Stations Cont. Pinyon Juniper Elevation: 2065 m; Landholder: US FWS Pinus monophylla, Purshia stansburiana Montane Elevation: 2320 m; Landholder: US FWS Pinus ponderosa, Juniperus osteosperma
  24. 24. Site Instrumentation Basic Meteorological Sensors: -Net radiation -PAR -Air Temperature -Relative Humidity -Wind Speed/Direction -Precipitation (Geonor, tipping bucket and ultrasonic snow depth) Soil Sensors: -Soil Temp at 5 depths -Soil Moisture at 5 depths -Soil Matric Potential Air Temperature Plant Sensors: -Sap flow -Point Dendrometers Other: -Surface Runoff -Webcam Soil moisture
  25. 25. Basic Sensors
  26. 26. Solar Radiation CS300 (pyranometer) Maximum, Minimum, Average, Standard Deviation LI190 (PAR) Average CNR1 (net radiation: long-/short-wave incoming/outgoing radiation) Average individual components Sensor Body Temperature
  27. 27. Air HMP50 (relative humidity and air temp) Maximum, Minimum, Average CS106 (barometric pressure) Average RM Young 05103 (wind speed – direction) Maximum, Minimum, Average, Vector, Vector Direction, Standard Deviation,
  28. 28. Thermocouples Air Temperature: 2 and 10 meters Maximum, Minimum, Average Soil Temperature: 2.5, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cm Maximum, Minimum, Average
  29. 29. Soil CS650 (soil water content reflectometer) Average, Sensor Temperature Conductivity, Salinity CS229 (soil water matric potential Ψ) -10 to 2500 kPa DPHP (dual probe heat pulse; East30Sensors) (soil thermal conductivity, diffusivity, and specific heat)
  30. 30. Precipitation TE525 (Tipping bucket) Event, Accumulation, Sensor Temperature Geonor T200 (precip weighed by vibrating wire) Frequency, Accumulation Judd (ultrasonic depth sensor – for snow) Average, Maximum, Minimum, Standard Deviation, Sensor Temperature
  31. 31. Vegetation Sensors Point dendrometer at Snake Subalpine East Sap flow sensor at Snake NDVI sensor at Snake Pinyon-Juniper West Eddy Covariance site Photo: B. Johnson
  32. 32. Runoff Collectors
  33. 33. Canon PTZ Internet Camera Monitoring of weather, phenology, show melt and sensor conditions Oct 1, 2011 Mar 19, 2012 May 6, 2012 Sept 9, 2011, 12:00 Sept 9, 2011, 16:00 Snake Subalpine West seasonal changes above Sheep Pinyon Juniper hourly differences of a nearby wildfire
  34. 34. NRCS Soil Description and Characterization Zone Soil Taxonomy Altitude (m) Salt Desert West Fine-loamy, mixed superactive mesic Xeric Calciargids 1756 Sagebrush West Loamy-skeletal, mixed superactive, mesic Xeric Calciargids 1790 Pinyon-Juniper West Loamy-Skeletal, superactive mesic shallow Cambidic Durixerolls 2200 Montane West Fine, smectitic Xerollic Haplocryalfs 2810 Subalpine West Loamy-skeletal, mixed, superactive Calcic Pachic Argicryolls 3355 Subalpine East Loamy-skeletal, mixed, superactive Xeric Haplocryolls 3070 Sagebrush East Fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Xeric Calciargids 1835 Salt Desert East Fine, smectitic, mesic Typic Calciargids 1560 Mojave Desert Shrub Loamy-skeletal, carbonatic, thermic Typic Torriorthents 900 Blackbrush Transect Loamy-skeletal, carbonatic, mesic, shallow Calcic Petrocalcids 1670 Pinyon-Juniper Loamy-skeletal, mixed, superactive, mesic, Calcic Argiustoll 2065 Montane Clayey-skeletal, mixed, super, mesic, Aridic, Lithic Argiustoll 2320 Snake Sheep
  35. 35. EARLY RESULTS Snake Range Transect Precipitation Monthly Precipitation HY 2011-2012 Sagebrush West Pinyon-Juniper West Montane West Subalpine West Subalpine East Sagebrush East Salt Desert East Total Precipitation (mm) 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
  36. 36. Snake Range Transect Precipitation
  37. 37. NevCAN Annual Precipitation
  38. 38. Snake Range Transect Air Temperature East – West Comparison, Avg, Min and Max 50 30 20 10 0 -10 -20 Dec-12 Oct-12 Aug-12 Feb-12 Dec-11 Oct-11 Aug-11 Jun-11 Apr-11 Feb-11 Dec-10 Oct-10 Aug-10 -40 Jun-12 -30 Apr-12 Sagebrush West Sagebrush East Jun-10 Air Temperature Degree C 40
  39. 39. Data Example: Sapflow vs Air Temperature: Snake Montane West: Tree 1, White Fir 5/8/2011 4:00 pm 5/8/2011 5:00 pm Snow Cover 5/9/2011 10:00 am 5/11/2011 2:00 pm 5/11/2011 6:00 pm Data from Britt Johnson and Jay Arnone
  40. 40. NevCAN: Downscaling Climate Model Data Mean Temperature: from GCM ~250km to 4km John Mejia and KC King
  41. 41. Snow Depth Monitoring and Other Imagery NASA JPL: Airborne Snow Observatory (lidar and spectral imaging) plans regular flights over the Snake Range this winter. They have previously acquired snow-free images DOE Remote Sensing Lab: Plans to test airborne radiation sensor for snow depth/SWE monitoring. Snake Subalpine West SNWA: 6” aerial photography of entire region acquired in 2006.
  42. 42. For More Info, Data and Webcam Access Contact:; 702-862-5412 Information at NV Climate Change Portal (NCCP)  Corrected Data available at WRCC : Snake Transect: Sheep Transect:  Access Webcams at:
  43. 43. Assessing Climate Variability and Its Impact on Basin Wide ET and Vegetation Lynn Fenstermaker1, Dale Devitt2 , Brian Bird2, Jay Arnone1 Richard Jasoni1and Jessica Larsen1 Desert Research Institute1 and University of Nevada Las Vegas2 Funded by the Southern Nevada Water Authority
  44. 44. Study Site • Spring Valley in east central NV (100 km by 15 km) • ET Estimation: empirical relationship between eddy covariance data and average growing season NDVI • 5 sites in native shrub (greasewood and big sage), 1 mixed grass/shrub site and 2 irrigated agriculture 3 7 2b 2 5, 6 4 1
  45. 45. Spring Valley 1 (27% cover)
  46. 46. Spring Valley 2 (100% cover)
  47. 47. Spring Valley 2b (100% cover)
  48. 48. Spring Valley 3 (32% cover)
  49. 49. Spring Valley 4 (100% cover)
  50. 50. Spring Valley 5 (85% cover)
  51. 51. Spring Valley 6 (76% cover)
  52. 52. Spring Valley 7 (19% cover)
  53. 53. Methods • Landsat TM 5 scenes from the growing season were calibrated, atmospherically corrected and normalized • NDVI was calculated for each image date, cloud and shadow areas were replaced and average growing season NDVI was calculated • Empirical relationship between annual tower ET and average growing season NDVI was determined for tower footprint areas. • ET images were calculated and footprint pixels were compared to tower ET
  54. 54. Impact of Precipitation on Vegetation in Phreatophytic Zone
  55. 55. Graphic Footprint Representation: Weighted footprint based on wind speed and direction; Hsieh et al. (2000) Footprint diameters: 1000m to 4000m
  56. 56. Empirical Relationship Between ET and Avg NDVI Footprint Weighted Average NDVI 1.0 Snv1 SnV2 SV1 SV2b SV3 SV4 SV5 SV6 SV7 WRV2 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0 (n = 30, r2 = 0.954) -0.2 0 200 400 600 800 1000 Annual Tower ET (mm) 1200 1400
  57. 57. Accuracy Assessment Results This means that in the worst case ET estimation accuracy is 68 to 70% and in the best case 93%.
  58. 58. Assessing Climate Change Treatment Effects with a Radio Control Helicopter Multispectral Platform Dr. Lynn Fenstermaker, Desert Research Institute ▪ Eric Knight, University of Nevada, Las Vegas Standard color digital photo Multispectral CIR photo 25 Class I RC helicopter, 55.7” length Sensor Package: Tetracam multispectral camera simulating green, red and IR Landsat bands; altimeter 20 % Green Cover UAV Platform: 15 10 5 0 D D D D D D -D -D -D -D -D -D I-0 I-0-N I-10 10-N I-40 40-N NI-0 I-0-N I-10 10-N I-40 40-N N N IIN NI NI Treatment I = irrigated, NI = not irrigated 0 kg ha-1 Nitrogen, 10 kg ha-1 Nitrogen, 40 kg ha-1 Nitrogen D = disturbed, ND = not disturbed Climate Treatment Effects on Plant Cover
  59. 59. Thank You and Any Questions? Science Can Get Tangled At TImes But Takes You to Great Places Couldn’t Resist One More Soil Slide: Glossic Horizon in Arkansas Fragipan Soil Hidden Beauty of the Natural World