2012

Spatial Analysis of Coastal Kenya’s Rare Coral Rag Forests and Conservation of its Endangered Primates
Category: Use of Space Technology to Maintain the Earth as an Oasis
Institution: Ohio State University

As one of Conservation International’s 25 Biodiversity Hotspots, in addition to being one of just a handful of coral rag forests remaining in the world, the Diani Forest of south coastal Kenya (4° 19’ S, 39° 34’ E) and its numerous endemic flora and fauna require immediate conservation action. Despite the obvious need for stringent conservation policies at Diani, this “oasis” is poorly understood by scientists and conservationists. Currently, this rapidly diminishing forest represents a patchwork of primary, secondary and heavily degraded forest fragments under differential pressures from nearby infrastructural developments. The Diani Forest is also home to Kenya’s largest density of the nationally endangered and poorly studied (IUCN classification: data deficient) Angolan black and white colobus monkeys (Colobus angolensis palliatus).

The primary goals of this initial project were to (1) spatially characterize and analyze the Diani Forest through use of GPS and GIS and (2) begin monitoring the ranging patterns, behavior, and diet of C. a. palliatus within the Diani Forest. Spatial-vegetation analysis and GPS mapping will be crucial toward (1) providing a baseline in which to recognize areas of forest regeneration and destruction in the future and (2) recommending areas requiring immediate forest corridor construction.

Aerosol – cloud interactions and their impact on the Earth’s radiation budget and future climate change.
Category: Use of Space Technology to Maintain the Earth as an Oasis
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of aerosol – cloud interactions and their impact on the Earth’s radiation budget and future climate change. Unravelling of uncertainties in aerosol effects is the key to determining climate sensitivity and to predicting future climate change.

This work is focused on the regional impacts of aerosol indirect effects using both in-situ observations and numerical modeling studies. Fair weather cumuli cover large portions of continents (~ 25 %) and the trade wind regions of the oceans (~ 15%). Data was collected during the Routine AAF Clouds with Low Optical Water Depths (CLOWD) Optical Radiative Observations (RACORO) field campaign over the Great Plains regions in 2009 and linked to satellite information. The work also investigated dust aerosol effects on trade wind cumuli using the three-dimensional non-hydrostatic EUlerian and semi-LAGrangian anelastic model (EULAG) to simulate clouds occurring over the Gulf of Mexico in 2006.