Ecological condition of US National Parks: Enhancing decision support through monitoring, analysis, and forecasting
Contact: Nathan Pieklielek
Collaborators: NPS I&M Program Staff from the Eastern Rivers and Mountains, Greater Yellowstone Regional, Rocky Mountain, and Sierra Nevada Networks
Anthropogenic changes in land use and land cover pose one of the foremost threats to resources in U.S. National Parks. To track in ecological condition, the US National Park Service has initiated a decision support system within the new NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program (NPS I&M). The goal of this project is to increase the effectiveness of the NPS I&M DSS by the delivery, analysis, forecasting, and display of NASA ESS data, models, and science results. We will collaborate with the NPS to:
1. Select landscape-level indicators of NPS “vital signs” and identify the boundaries of the greater park ecosystem appropriate for these indicators.
2. Establish procedures to directly incorporate existing products from NASA-sponsored Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS) and other sources.
3. Add value to these products for NPS management by using ecological knowledge to guide the analysis and portrayal of changes in land use/cover, climate, ecosystem productivity, hydrology, and biodiversity, and to forecast likely ecosystem changes given alternative decision scenarios.
4. Integrate the data acquisition, analysis, forecasting, and display of these ecosystem changes into the NPS I&M’s DSS framework.
We will focus on four NPS I&M Networks that were selected to provide a broad range of park characteristics, environmental situations, and types of impacts from land use change. We will implement fully functional prototypes in each network. To do so, we will use a conceptual model of parks as subsets of larger ecosystems to evaluate and refine NPS indicators and to quantify the surrounding greater park ecosystem.
We will supplement the NPS I&M DSS through the delivery of 22 products from TOPS in operation at NASA Ames Research Center. This will include the automated retrieval, processing, and integration of NASA ESS data sets, including those from the AQUA, TERRA, and Landsat platform sensors. TOPS component ecosystem models will be used to develop historical baselines of ecosystem conditions for the period 1885-2005 and provide forecasts to 2025 under alternative scenarios.
Close collaboration by the NPS helps ensure the smooth transition of project findings and technology to NPS I&M Networks. Software development will use ESRI products to accommodate NPS staff, who are skilled in the use of ArcGIS software.
This project promotes NASA’s goals by making NASA ESS data more available and relevant to the NPS. It will provide an integrated solution that improves the management of national parks, a highly visible use of NASA’s products.