Wetherley gives talk at ERI climate meeting

posted Apr 20, 2018, 11:17 AM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Apr 20, 2018, 11:18 AM ]

On April 13, Erin Wetherley gave a talk to UCSB climate scientists as part of the Earth Research Institute's weekly climate meetings. Her talk titled 'Large-scale remote sensing analysis of urban vegetation temperatures' featured results from one of her dissertation chapters. See abstract below for more details!


Vegetation canopy temperature is an indicator of vegetation stress, evapotranspiration rate, and plant carbon uptake. Observing vegetation temperature variability across a city is therefore critical for quantifying urban water use, energy budgets, and microclimate variability. Remote sensing can observe spatial patterns in land surface temperature (LST) across large urban spatial domains; however, the spatial variability of LST in remotely sensed imagery of cities largely reflects urban surface heterogeneity rather than vegetation stress or function. In this study, we performed a large scale analysis of urban surface and LST variability across the megacity of Los Angeles, USA (4,466 km2), using remote sensing to characterize urban surface heterogeneity and measure LST. We quantified local LST effects of plant functional types as well as non-vegetated surfaces in order observe and model a functional vegetation LST signal at the city scale. Our results indicate potential for improved understanding of urban microclimates with imagery available from near-future satellite missions. 

Congrats Mingquan!

posted Mar 17, 2018, 12:42 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Mar 17, 2018, 12:53 PM ]

Mingquan Chen is now a Ceres Imaging employee!  We threw him a going-away and congratulations party with lots of good food, company, and music. Good luck in your new job Mingquan!

Congrats Dr. Tane!

posted Mar 13, 2018, 4:40 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Mar 13, 2018, 4:51 PM ]

Zach Tane successfully defended his dissertation and celebrated with the lab and family afterwards at Beachside. Congratulations Dr. Zachary Tane!

Dissertation Title: Using Remote Sensing to Characterize Conifer Mortality during a Severe Drought in the Sierra Nevada

Abstract: Between 2012 and 2016, the southern Sierra Nevada experienced an extreme period of drought and high temperatures. In the latter years of this global-change-type drought, epidemic levels of tree mortality spread across the area. Remote sensing was used to gain an understanding of the impact and drivers of tree mortality. In Soaproot Saddle, a 2,240 ha watershed in the southern Sierra Nevada, a combination of high spatial resolution airborne imaging spectroscopy and lidar acquired in 2013 was used to identify tree crown's locations, species, and height. With this information, the survival of individual trees in 2016 was investigated. I find ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) to be disproportionally impacted by the drought, with implications for future species compositions in the area. Across the southern Sierra Nevada, I also used imaging spectroscopy data that was simulated to be equivalent to what a spaceborne imaging spectrometer would acquire to map red stage tree mortality. I demonstrated that a simulated spaceborne imaging spectrometer would be able to more accurately identify the location of red stage tree mortality compared to existing multispectral satellites, such as Landsat. Finally, both within the 2,240 ha watershed and across the southern Sierra Nevada, the factors that distinguished conifers that were alive in 2016 from conifers that had recently died in 2016 were examined. Trees that survived were typically located in stands with tree species and height class heterogeneity. Stands in wetter, cooler parts of the Sierra Nevada during the drought were also more likely to survive.

Viper Lab Dinner!

posted Mar 3, 2018, 8:34 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Mar 3, 2018, 8:35 PM ]

To welcome potential UCSB Geography graduate students, the VIPER lab got together for a yummy dinner at a local thai restaurant.

Researchers (including Dar Roberts) receive $2.5 million to study the effects of climate and climate change on trees along river channels

posted Feb 27, 2018, 8:21 AM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Feb 27, 2018, 8:21 AM ]

See Full Article at UCSB Current titled "Champions of the Forest"

Vipers honored at AGU's Fall Meeting

posted Feb 16, 2018, 10:53 AM by Dar Roberts   [ updated Mar 3, 2018, 8:45 PM by Erin Wetherley ]

The 2017 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, December 11-15, 2017 and featured more than 22,000 talks and poster presentations by earth and space science researchers from around the world.

Two Viper Lab members David Miller and Erin Wetherley were honored with prestigious Outstanding Student Paper Awards (OSPAs). According to AGU’s website, OSPAs are awarded to promote, recognize and reward undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students for quality research in the geophysical sciences. Typically the top 2-5% of presenters in each section are acknowledged. 

Photo Courtesy of Erin Wetherley

Miller’s presentation was titled, “Gross Primary Productivity and Vegetation Light Use Efficiency of a Large Metropolitan Region based on CO2 Flux Measurements and WorldView-2 Satellite Imagery.”

“David leveraged rare urban CO2 flux measurements with high resolution satellite imagery and lidar. This allowed him to answer the question of whether urban land-use types differ in carbon uptake primarily due to vegetation condition (uptake per unit vegetated area) or due to differences in the amount of vegetation cover,” stated Joe McFadden, advisor to Miller and Wetherley. McFadden is a Professor of Geography at UC Santa Barbara and was one of four people convening the Urban Areas and Global Change session at the Fall Meeting.

Photo Courtesy of Susan Meerdink

Wetherley gave a talk titled “Evaluating Vegetation Type Effects on Land Surface Temperature at the City Scale.” She used remote sensing to create a landcover map of all of urbanized Los Angeles, and then used that map to study patterns in vegetation temperatures to enhance our understanding of urban climate and water use.

“Erin’s paper is really groundbreaking because it uses remote sensing at the scale of large metropolitan regions to separately quantify the effects of vegetation and environmental drivers on urban heat, despite the incredible heterogeneity of the city,” said McFadden.

Excerpt from

American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2017

posted Dec 15, 2017, 2:21 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Dec 15, 2017, 2:22 PM ]

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) held it's annual fall meeting in for the first time in New Orleans December 11 - 15, 2015. This year will mark Fall Meeting’s 50th year as the premiere place to present your research; hear about the latest discoveries, trends, and challenges in the field; and network with colleagues that can enhance your career. The majority of the VIPER lab made the trip to present their current research including: Alana Ayasse, Gabriel Daldegan, Susan Meerdink, Fernanda Ribeiro, Sarah Shivers, and Erin Wetherley. In addition the vipers were joined by Dar Roberts, our fearless advisor

In addition, the current Viper Lab got to together with alumni for a nice dinner at ANNUNCIATION. It was really nice to catch up with some of existing alumni and where they are!

Sarah Shivers presents to her Florida alma mater at their Science Discovery Day

posted May 3, 2017, 11:50 AM by Sarah Shivers   [ updated May 3, 2017, 11:54 AM ]

On April 21st, Sarah Shivers returned to her K-12 alma mater Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida as their invited speaker for Science Discovery Day. Sarah spent the day teaching over 100 students in the 4th and 5th grades about satellites and how we study Earth from space. She also had the opportunity to meet with a dedicated group of high school students to chat about remote sensing and careers in science as part of their Science Cafe series. Sarah had a great time connecting with students and having the opportunity to share her love for science with them!

Erin Wetherley wins the AMS presentation award

posted Feb 16, 2017, 1:50 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Feb 16, 2017, 2:16 PM ]

Erin Wetherley received the Board of Urban Environment (BUE)'s Outstanding Poster Presentation award at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting which was held in Seattle, WA January 22-26. At the 13th Symposium of the Urban Environment, the BUE committee attends the student presentations and each member casts their votes for the best oral or poster papers taking into consideration: scientific merit, contribution to the field of urban environment, as well as presentation skills. Only the top three presentations are awarded cash prizes and a certificate. Erin's poster was titled, "Urban composition and surface temperature at multiple resolutions using airborne spectroscopic and thermal imaging". This poster explored sub-pixel unmixing of urban surfaces and investigating patterns between mixtures of material fractions and land surface temperature. Check out her poster on the first floor Ellison Hall!

Dar Roberts receives AGU Fellow Award

posted Jan 10, 2017, 2:15 PM by Susan Meerdink   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 2:25 PM ]

At the annual fall AGU meeting, VIPERs gathered to watch Dar Roberts receive the prestigious AGU Fellow Award. Established in 1962, the Union Fellows program recognizes AGU members who made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers. Oliver Chadwick nominated Dar for developing spectral mixing models that drive pixel-based interpretation of remote sensing data to solve environmental problems. At the Honors Ceremony, VIPERs watched Dar receive his award, while also earning the title of most raucous cheering crowd. After the ceremony, Dar fans gathered for champagne toasts and a group photo (see below). Following the champagne reception, a banquet was held to celebrate all AGU honorees. In addition to wonderful food, the banquet hosted a photo booth help to commemorate the night. The evening ended with fantastic music and dancing. Dar Roberts even danced with AGU President Margaret Leinen! 

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