CIRES | Earth Science and Observation Center

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The primary areas of study at ESOC include: arctic climatology, ecology, geology, hyperspectral imaging, hydrology, paleoclimate, and remote sensing. A long-term goal of ESOC research is to investigate problems in global geoscience, in particular questions of global change, through use of satellite observations. At present, the emphasis is on understanding the land and land-atmosphere interactions and the cryosphere. Some of the topics include biochemical cycles involving vegetation, soils, hydrology and water budgets, and human-induced change. Predictive models are being developed that incorporate inputs derived from satellite remote sensing data, and make it feasible to address global-scale questions. Much of the Center's research occurs within research groups at CIRES, the parent organization to ESOC.
Air-Sea Processes

Milliff's research focuses on air-sea interaction processes, at regional and global scales, using data from multi-platform observing systems, often as input to Bayesian hierarchical models. Current projects include applications in ocean forecasting, and tropical studies of maritime mesoscale convective systems and the Madden-Julian Oscillation.

Hydrological Research

The Livneh research group focuses on physical hydrology and how water resources may be impacted by changes in the Earth system. Application of remote sensing an in situ data into physically based models are used to gain insights into key processes and to explore elements of predictability. Additional foci include snow hydrology, sediment transport and drought research.

Ice Sheets and Sea Level

The Abdalati research group is focused on understanding the contributions of the Earth's great ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica, as well as large glacier systems to global sea level rise in the context of a changing climate. 

Land Use and Climate Change

The Chase research group focuses on modeling and observational studies of the effects of the land surface and changing landcover (for example, deforestation, desertification, and irrigation) and their effects on regional and global climate. Tropical and sub-tropical Monsoon systems have been a particular area of study. We also have projects in the area of non-linear geophysics -- examining climate feedbacks in the hydrological cycle and the effects of a variable sun on climate models.

Landscape and Ecosystem Ecology

The Wessman research group seeks to gain insights on feedback dynamics between ecosystem structure and function, and the influence of disturbance on trajectories of ecosystem processes. The group's research approaches involve field studies, remote sensing methodologies investigating temporal and spatial heterogeneity in ecosystem properties, as well as landscape and ecosystem modeling.

Lidar Remote Sensing and Laser Spectroscopy

The Chu Research Group focuses in both remote sensing technology development and atmospheric and space science study with observations, data analysis, and theoretical modeling.

Natural Hazards

The Tiampo research group seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the processes that govern natural and anthropogenic hazards. Their research focuses on the integration of large quantities of remote sensing data such as space-based Global Positioning System (GPS) data, differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (DInSAR), seismicity and gravity, which provide critical information on the nature and scale of these hazards.  Specific projects focus on improvements in the nature and quantity of that data, development of innovative analysis techniques and appropriate assimilation into various geophysical models of underlying processes, such as induced seismicity or volcanic hazards.

Polar climate change and variability

The Kay group uses satellite observations and global coupled climate modeling to understand the processes controlling polar climate change and variability. Current research foci include: 1) the influence of Southern Ocean albedo on global energy budgets and circulation patterns, 2) processes controlling Arctic cloud formation, vertical structure, and phase, 3) precipitation changes in extratropical cyclones in a warming world, and 4) using satellite observations and simulators to evaluate and improve cloud processes in climate models.

Scaling in Surface Hydrology

The Gupta research group is broadly focused on unifying biophysical processes with statistical variability across multiple scales of space and time. Primarily, Dr. Gupta's work has focused on multi-scale hydrologic processes, which formed the foundations for some of his more recent research in multi-scale hydrologic phenomena. Hydrologic phenomena consist of problems requiring a grand synthesis of coupled processes, geometry and statistics across multiple scales of space and time.