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USGS - science for a changing world

Person

Neal J Pastick (CTR)


Earth Resources Observation and Science

Email: neal.pastick.ctr@usgs.gov
Office Phone: 605-594-2652

Location
EROS - Mundt Federal Building
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls , SD 57198-9801
USA

Supervisor: Frederick M Badke
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High-latitude regions are experiencing rapid and extensive changes in ecosystem composition and function as the result of increases in average air temperature. Increasing air temperatures have led to widespread thawing and degradation of permafrost, which in turn has affected ecosystems, socioeconomics, and the carbon cycle of high latitudes. Research shows that the distribution of permafrost is heterogeneous in nature and that permafrost responds to a wide range of ecological factors. Here we overcome complex interactions between surface and subsurface conditions to map near-surface permafrost using decision-tree models, field observations, remotely sensed and derived data, and climatic indices. The resultant dataset...
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Fire and hydrology can be significant drivers of permafrost change in boreal landscapes, altering the availability of soil carbon and nutrients that have important implications for future climate and ecological succession. However, not all landscapes are equally susceptible to disturbance. New methods are needed to understand the vulnerability and resilience of different landscapes to permafrost degradation. This project uses remote sensing, geophysical, and other field-based observations to reveal details of both near-surface (<1 m) and deeper (>1 m) permafrost characteristics over multiple scales. This LandCarbon project currently supports the NASA ABoVE project, 'Vulnerability of inland waters and the aquatic...
High-latitude regions are experiencing rapid and extensive changes in ecosystem composition and function as the result of increases in average air temperature. Increasing air temperatures have led to widespread thawing and degradation of permafrost, which in turn has affected ecosystems, socioeconomics, and the carbon cycle of high latitudes. Here we overcome complex interactions among surface and subsurface conditions to map near-surface permafrost through decision and regression tree approaches that statistically and spatially extend field observations using remotely sensed imagery, climatic data, and thematic maps of a wide range of surface and subsurface biophysical characteristics. The data fusion approach...
The distribution of permafrost is important to understand because of permafrost's influence on high-latitude ecosystem structure and functions. Moreover, near-surface (defined here as within 1 m of the Earth's surface) permafrost is particularly susceptible to a warming climate and is generally poorly mapped at regional scales. Subsequently, our objectives were to (1) develop the first-known binary and probabilistic maps of near-surface permafrost distributions at a 30 m resolution in the Alaskan Yukon River Basin by employing decision tree models, field measurements, and remotely sensed and mapped biophysical data; (2) evaluate the relative contribution of 39 biophysical variables used in the models; and (3) assess...
Understanding of the organic layer thickness (OLT) and organic layer carbon (OLC) stocks in subarctic ecosystems is critical due to their importance in the global carbon cycle. Moreover, post-fire OLT provides an indicator of long-term successional trajectories and permafrost susceptibility to thaw. To these ends, we 1) mapped OLT and associated uncertainty at 30 m resolution in the Yukon River Basin (YRB), Alaska, employing decision tree models linking remotely sensed imagery with field and ancillary data, 2) converted OLT to OLC using a non-linear regression, 3) evaluate landscape controls on OLT and OLC, and 4) quantified the post-fire recovery of OLT and OLC. Areas of shallow (< 10 cm), moderate (≥ 10 cm and...
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