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Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Forest Service helps emerging scientists assess drought impacts in urban forests

NASA DEVELOP program participants presenting their research
NASA DEVELOP program participants presented their research through a poster, a talk, an online map resource, and an award-winning video. (Courtesy photo by Deb Misch, National Centers for Environmental Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)


SRS scientists served as research advisors and collaborators with a team of NASA DEVELOP program participants, helping to guide these early-career environmental scientists through novel research and connect their work with local end-users. The project used satellite data and air photos to assess drought impacts on urban trees across Houston and Austin, Texas.


DEVELOP is an early-career and student scientist capacity-building program, part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program. Focused projects bring participants together with scientists in partner organizations to co-develop research that uses earth observation data to understand pressing environmental issues.

SRS scientists served in this capacity to develop and guide a team project called Analyzing Drought-related Impacts on Urban Tree Inventory Conditions and Recovery in Texas.

Urban forests provide a myriad of ecosystem services such as pollution reduction and carbon sequestration, but prolonged drought events can interfere with those services and inflict significant damage to tree inventories. To gain insight on the effects of the historic 2011 Texas drought, the team partnered with the Texas A&M Forest Service and used satellite imagery and high-resolution aerial imagery to understand relationships between general vegetation characteristics and urban tree canopy stress. Team research efforts focused on using the imagery to analyze stress and mortality over time and interpret patterns of urban forest recovery after the historic drought event. The project was named the winner of the program’s national Virtual Poster Session competition.

Principal Investigators
Lars Pomara, Ecologist
Steve Norman, Research Ecologist
4854 - Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
Strategic Program Area
Inventory and Monitoring
Research Partner
Danny Lee (SRS)
External Partners
Andrew Shannon (NASA DEVELOP)
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Burl Carraway (Texas A&M Forest Service)
Rebekah Zehnder (Texas A&M Forest Service)