Selected Projects

Nebraska GAP Analysis project
Map of Nebraska for GAP project

The Nebraska GAP Analysis Project represents a multi-year effort that involved using satellite remote sensing to map Nebraska's land cover. The project sought to identify species-rich regions and discern existing land use/land cover, in order to develop an effective statewide biodiversity management strategy. The project involved more than two dozen groups, including academic departments, state agencies, and conservation organizations, working in a collaborative effort to document the health and extent of Nebraska's native wildlife.

Downloads available:

Cooperative Hydrology Study (COHYST)
Map of Nebraska for CoHYST project

The Cooperative Hydrology Study (COHYST) is a collaborative effort among various groups in the states of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado, along with the US Department of the Interior. This partnership seeks to document the status of critical habitat of four endangered species (whooping crane, piping plover, least tern, pallid sturgeon) in the Platte River Basin. The purposes of the initiative are:

  • To improve and conserve habitat for four threatened and endangered species that use the Platte River in Nebraska.
  • To develop and implement a recovery program for those species.
  • To enable existing and new water uses in the Platte River Basin to proceed without additional actions required for the four species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

CALMIT hosts downloadable data from this project, including shapefiles, metadata and map products for 1982, 1997, 2001, and 2005. Similar downloads are available for a 2002 irrigation study. The 2005 COHYST final report is also available.

Predicting Wheat Streak Mosaic (WSM) disease
Wheat Streak Mosaic
Wheat Streak Mosaic graph

Wheat streak mosaic (WSM) is the most severe disease of winter wheat in the Great Plains. Estimates indicate WSM causes an average loss to winter wheat of approximately 2% ($6 million, Nebraska; $18 million, Kansas). This mite-vectored virus is a problem in the year following pre-harvest hail damage because resulting volunteer wheat is the primary source of the mite/virus. Understanding mite movement (i.e. virus spread) is critical to predicting the epidemiology of WSM and developing efficient pest management programs. Remote sensing capabilities have the potential to greatly improve our approach to managing this complex problem.

The ultimate goal of this work is to establish WSM risk prediction tools based on pre-harvest hail damage and on virus spread via movement of wheat curl mites.

Detecting toxic blue-green algal blooms
Quantifying lake health
Quantifying lake health chlorophyll concentration

In 2005, CALMIT scientists, in collaboration with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, worked to develop a remote sensing tool quantifying population densities of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in Nebraska's lakes. Highly dense algal blooms can have severe impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems and the economy. By quantifying cyanobacterial density, early warnings can be provided to the public for affected lakes. This project also served to promote coordination and information sharing about toxic-algae issues among local units of government, lake associations, lake owners, and the public.

Remotely-sensed data revealed a high probability of toxic algae when (a) chlorophyll concentrations rose above 50 mg/m3 and (b) spectral features detected substantial algae-produced phycocyanin levels. These criteria successfully predicted the presence of toxic algal levels when water samples from identified lakes were tested. The images (left) were acquired on June 6, 2005 using CALMIT's AISAEagle hyperspectral imaging system over the Fremont State Lakes in Nebraska. The first image shows relative densities of algal chlorophyll, where lighter colors indicate denser populations. The second image highlights pixels containing phycocyanin.

Remote sensing of Western-Caribbean coral communities
Diver sampling Caribbean coral communities
Caribbean coral communities

CALMIT Faculty Fellows Don Rundquist, Anatoly Gitelson, Merlin Lawson (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and John Schalles (CALMIT Faculty Fellow now at Creighton University), have collected coral spectra in-situ at Roatan Island, Honduras each spring semester during 2000-2005. CALMIT staff and students have worked to standardize the data collection protocol for measuring the spectral response of coral species, identifying a dual-fiber-optic spectrometer to provide the most reliable spectra. To augment in-situ spectral observations, CALMIT member Sunil Narumalani, along with his student Jill Maeder, prepared a classification of benthic features of the Roatan coastal zone using IKONOS imagery. To provide imagery at an interim scale (ground-level and satellite-level imagery), in April 2005, CALMIT scientists deployed our Piper Saratoga to Roatan, Honduras, to conduct low altitude aerial remote sensing of spectral reflectances above coral reefs.

A second, continuing thrust of CALMIT's research in the Caribbean has been the identification and mapping of benthic habitats, using IKONOS and QuickBird imagery. Associated with this effort is the work of Professor Narumalani and his doctoral student Deepak Mishra, who have characterized the vertical diffuse attenuation coefficient for downwelling irradiance in coastal waters and high resolution ocean color remote sensing of benthic habitats.

Niobrara River Watershed land cover mapping

Land Cover Classification for the Niobrara River Watershed

The Niobrara River watershed covers a large area in northern Nebraska, and neighboring parts of South Dakota and Wyoming, and is an important component of statewide natural resources management. Under ongoing agreements with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are charged with the development of management plans for various BoR projects in the Niobrara River watershed in Nebraska. To help identify critical habitat, multi-date Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) satellite imagery combined with field data were used to map land cover in the Niobrara River Watershed.
Land cover interpretation and analysis at Effigy Mounds National Monument
Land cover interpretation and analysis at Effigy Mounds National Monument
In 1994, the United States National Park Service (NPS) established the Prairie Cluster Long Term Ecological Monitoring (LTEM) Program to assess changing land use patterns at the Effigy Mounds National Monument (EFMO), located in the plains area of northeastern Iowa adjacent to the Mississippi River. The overall objective of the LTEM is to detect and describe long-term changes in vegetation and aquatic communities, impacts to threatened and endangered species, and the monitoring of invasive species within and surrounding the Monument's approximately 1,618 hectares. The parks have 195 prehistoric mounds constructed in the shape of mammals, birds, and reptiles or are conical, linear and compound, and forms part of the Native American culture.

Land use/land cover polygons were combined with wildlife population data from United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) National Wetlands Inventory (NWI), USGS digital elevation models (DEM), USDA soil profiles, NPS digital line graph (DLG) information to prepare a regional 80-kilometer buffer map depicting land use/land cover at a 30×30 m resolution.

The US National Park Service and CALMIT scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln plan to document 60 years of land use/land cover change in this and similar parks in order to better preserve these wild lands and America's heritage.
Resource management at Nebraska Army National Guard lands
Mixed vegetation types at a NE ARNG training site.
As of 2015, Nebraska Army National Guard (NE ARNG) facilities and training grounds included 6,192 acres of Nebraska land, much of it rich habitat for wild species. The National Guard recognizes the importance of managing the nation’s natural resources to prevent environmental degradation and to create a sustainable training environment that facilitates their military mission.

This project involved:
  • Performing field surveys of vertebrate and invertebrate species of fauna and flora of the forests, grasslands and wetlands used by NE ARNG for training personnel.
  • Collecting and recording relevant field data describing the biodiversity and relative abundance of flora and fauna at the study sites.
  • Developing a GIS database that included:
    -- Checklists of species present.
    -- Relative species abundance by ecoregion.
    -- Methodologies used for the data collections.
    -- Proposed monitoring protocols and methods that support the NE ARNG training mission and management of selected habitat.
    -- Map products for enhancing strategic management decisions.
Noxious weeds inventory and mapping for the National Parks Service

Ground image of vegetation at Capulin Volcano National Monument.

Introduction: The National Park Service needs to identify and delineate areas of noxious weeds within three parks, including the Capulin Volcano National Monument and the Fort Union National Monument, located in New Mexico, and within a portion of Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas. CALMIT used satellite imagery, aerial photos, and GPS technology to aid in inventory surveys and mapping of these areas. The National Park Service will use this information to assess the effectiveness of ongoing weed management actions and to complete NEPA compliance for the weed management program.
Methods: Prior to field surveys, satellite imagery was used to assess potential areas of infestation. Weed survey maps were created by using GPS technology to identify coordinate locations of weed infestation .
Data Analysis: Maps and analyses generated from differentially corrected, ground-collected GPS data and aerial imagery was provided to the National Park Service upon completion of the project.
NebraskaView logo

NebraskaView is Nebraska's state node for AmericaView, a nationwide U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) program that focuses on providing easy, low-cost access to remotely-sensed data and promoting remote sensing education, research and applications. Our mission is to ensure that Nebraskans (e.g., state and local agencies, K-16 educators) make the fullest use of geospatial data.

The Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT), University of Nebraska-Lincoln was selected by USGS as the AmericaView site for Nebraska.
Carbon Sequestration Program (CSP)
Carbon Sequestration Program (CSP) image
The Carbon Sequestration Program assesses ways that production agriculture can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by enhancing carbon storage (sequestration) in soils. Their studies focus on determining the potential for carbon storage in dryland and irrigated cropping systems in the north-central U.S.A and the factors that govern carbon sequestration. With recent funding from the Department of Energy, we have established a state-of-the-art field research facility at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Nebraska.

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