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Contact: Valene Marshall
vmarshal@nsf.gov
703-292-2984
National Science Foundation

National Ecological Observatory Network Studies Wildfire in Unprecedented Detail

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In response to one of the worst wildfires in Colorado history, scientists from the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU) are leading a first of its kind, large-scale wildfire impact study on the High Park Fire in partnership with Colorado's newest research facility, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The study will provide critical data to communities still grappling with how to respond to major water quality, erosion and ecosystem restoration issues in an area spanning more than 136 square miles.

Supported by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant, the collaboration will integrate airborne remote sensing data collected by NEON's Airborne Observation Platform with ground-based data from a targeted field campaign conducted by CSU researchers. RAPID, short for Grants for Rapid Response Research, are used for proposals having a real urgency, including quick-response research on natural disasters. This effort is the first time a comprehensive airborne remote sensing system of this caliber will be used to enhance research on wildfire causes and impacts. The system will be able to detect remaining vegetation, identify plant species, ash cover, soil properties and other details to help illustrate how the fire burned -- over the span of the entire fire scar.

Credit: Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer

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