LanDAT: Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool
SUMMARY: Monitoring forests, grasslands and other vegetated landscapes is a way to stay ahead of threats and assess progress. Although land management objectives, social values, and ecological realities differ from place to place, all lands, regardless of ownership, face threats stemming from disturbances such as wildfire that are exacerbated by climate change. Consequently, many treasured places are changing or can expect to change noticeably over the coming century. National imperatives such as the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) strive to restore and maintain resilient landscapes and adaptable communities (USDA Forest Service and USDOI, 2014). However, judging success or even progress toward goals requires objective, quantifiable, and rigorous means of defining and measuring landscape resilience through time. No such system currently exists. Eastern Threat Center researchers are developing a set of computer-assisted tools that can monitor all lands across the conterminous United States and provide a comprehensive year-over-year perspective on emerging landscape dynamics in concert with land management activities. The end goal is to provide managers with a set of accessible, cost-effective tools for characterizing landscapes and landscape change across multiple scales and measuring the influence of management activities on landscape resilience and adaptive capacity.
Pictured: LanDAT can help users monitor landscapes through more than 15 years of satellite observations (left). Its map layers can be used for evaluating any land unit in the continental United States (bottom right). A LanDAT overview (top right) guides users through key concepts and examples. Click images to enlarge.
Through just a few years of rapid development, Eastern Threat Center researchers are poised to deliver the innovative Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool, or LanDAT, for rigorously measuring and tracking ecological landscape dynamics. LanDAT summarizes with clarity the fusion of three components: 1) a massive data set derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite system; 2) advanced computing and data analytic techniques developed by the Eastern Threat Center, NASA Stennis Space Center, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and 3) new methods for quantifying landscape phenological change integrated with a set of information-theoretic measures of ecosystem growth and development proposed and refined by Ulanowicz (1986, 1997).
EFETAC'S ROLE: This project is supported by Eastern Threat Center research.
PROGRESS: The multistep approach to assessing landscape dynamics is being applied to study a variety of landscapes across the nation through pilot projects and several forthcoming research publications.
Danny C. Lee, Eastern Threat Center Director, email@example.com or (828) 257-4854
Lars Pomara, Eastern Threat Center Ecologist, firstname.lastname@example.org or (828) 257-4357
Bjorn Brooks, Eastern Threat Center Postdoctoral Researcher (ORISE Fellow), email@example.com or (828) 257-4850
Updated June 2017