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Todd Hawbaker

Research Ecologist

Contact Info


Short Biography

Todd J. Hawbaker received his B.S. degree in animal ecology in 1998 from Iowa State University.  After receiving his B.S., he worked for a couple of years burning and restoring tallgrass prairie in southwestern Minnesota and then pursued graduate school.  He received his M.S. degree in forestry in 2003 and Ph.D. degree in forestry in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin.  He joined the U.S. Geological Survey as a research ecologist in 2008 and works at the Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center in Denver, CO.  His current research with the U.S.G.S. combines remote sensing with statistical and process-based ecosystem simulation models to examine the impacts of ecosystem disturbances on carbon stocks and fluxes.

 

Current research projects:

National-scale wildfire and fire-management impacts on ecosystem carbon storage and greenhouse-gas emissions
U.S.G.S. is conducting a national-scale assessment of carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes as mandated by Section 712 of the Energy Independence Act of 2007, also known as LandCarbon. Todd’s participation in this effort is twofold. First, an assessment is being conducted to quantify the impacts of recent wildfires on greenhouse gas emissions. Second, a suite of data, tools, and models are being developed to estimate future potential wildfire activity, biomass consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions under a range of climate, land-use/land-cover change, and fire-management scenarios. More details about the LandCarbon project, including ecosystem disturbances, methodology can be found at http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/carbon/methodology.asp

Burned Area Essential Climate Variable
Collaborators: Susan Stitt and Carol Mladinich
The USGS is developing research-quality, applications-ready essential climate variables (ECVs) using historic, current, and future Landsat data that follow guidelines established through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). As a member of the team developing the burned area ECV, I focus on designing and implementing automated change detection algorithms to extract burned areas in both forest and non-forest ecosystems from Landsat imagery. More details about the ECV project can be found at http://remotesensing.usgs.gov/ecv/index.php

Impacts of mountain pine beetle on forest vegetation composition and carbon dynamics in the Southern Rocky Mountains
Collaborators: Megan Caldwell, Jenny Briggs, and Susan Stitt
In the Southern Rocky Mountains, an epidemic outbreak of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) has caused unprecedented levels of tree mortality. To better understand the long-term impacts of insect outbreaks on vegetation and biogeochemical cycling, we have collected forest vegetation data at 119 plots located in eastern Grand County, CO. With the field data, we are simulating future vegetation conditions, biomass, and carbon stocks under a range of scenarios using the Forest Vegetation Simulator model.

Forecasting fire risk in the wildland-urban interface
Collaborators: Steve Garman and Nashwa Bolling (University of Denver)
Development in the wildland-urban interface has dramatically increased in the western U.S. in recent decades.  From a wildfire perspective, this development has increased the number of people and homes at risk and has potentially exacerbated risk by increasing the frequency of human-caused wildfire ignitions Fire-related impacts are expected to increase substantially over time as development in the WUI continues and climate changes further increases the frequency and area affected by wildfires in the West. This study relates past patterns of housing growth, vegetation, and weather to fire occurrence patterns in a probabilistic framework. Then, those relationships are used to examine potential changes in wildfire risk under housing growth and climate-change scenarios



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My Science Topics


Science Topic
Subtopic
Environmental Issuesland use change
Environmental Issuesland use
Environmental Issueshuman impacts
Ecology and Environmentecological processes
Ecology and Environmentecosystem functions
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmenthabitat alteration
Geographic Analysis and Mappinggeospatial analysis
Geographic Analysis and Mappingremote sensing
Geographic Analysis and Mappingspatial analysis
Natural Hazardsfire control
Natural Hazardsfires
Techniques and Methodscomputational methods
Techniques and Methodsfield methods
Techniques and Methodsgeographic information systems (GIS)
Techniques and Methodsimage analysis
Techniques and Methodsmathematical modeling
Techniques and Methodsmathematical simulation
Techniques and Methodsremote sensing
Techniques and Methodsrisk assessment
Techniques and Methodsstatistical analysis



My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Climate Variability & Change

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Changes in vegetation composition and carbon stocks following pine beetle and wildfire disturbances

In the Southern Rocky Mountains, an epidemic outbreak of mountain pine beetle has caused unprecedented levels of tree mortality. To better understand the long-term impacts of insect outbreaks on vegetation and biogeochemical cycling, we have collected forest vegetation data at 119 plots located in eastern Grand County, CO. With the field data, we are simulating future vegetation conditions, biomass, and carbon stocks under a range of scenarios using the Forest Vegetation Simulator model. Airborne LiDAR data were also collected over our study area during the summer of 2010. We are analyzing those data to quantify forest vegetation structure (e.g. biomass) and provide the necessary data to simulate vegetation change and biogeochemical cycling over the entire study area. Collaborators: Megan Caldwell, Jenny Briggs, and Susan Stitt (USGS RMGSC)



Contact Information

Todd Hawbaker
West 6th Ave. & Kipling St., DFC Bldg. 25
Lakewood, CO 80225-0046
tjhawbaker@usgs.gov
303-236-1371
303-236-5349 - Fax
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