Observations of environmental variables from satellites and aircraft, or collected in the field represent snapshots of a continuously varying Earth system at specific places and times. Satellites offer a global view, but miss important details on local environmental conditions and context for interpreting local variability.  The emergence of advanced remote sensors on airplanes and drones offer new opportunities to bridge local and regional data with this global view. Field observations from citizen scientists, field surveys, social sensing, camera traps, and others offer very specific information locally, but are often time consuming and limited in space or time. We use novel analytics for curating cross-scale datasets that  integrate these observations to help us better resolve and understand underlying ecological processes.


Project Lead

Drones are revolutionizing the way natural scientists measure their study systems. We are researching how measurements from small remote sensing drones, aka uncrewed aerial systems (UAS), can complement existing data to answer environmental questions in new ways.

Project Lead

Jennifer K. Balch

Earth Lab


If you’re like us and you love studying fire ecology, you know that there are many satellite-derived datasets to choose from, but the collection is not easily combined and a steep learning curve exists. That’s where FIRED (Fire Events Delineation) comes in.
At Earth Lab, we often use data from diverse sources to facilitate inquiry, from the more conventional remote sensing datasets such as multispectral satellite imagery and radar backscatter, airborne lidar data, and high-resolution UAV imagery, to the less traditional datasets such as social media feeds, housing layers, and event databases.

Project Lead

From centimeter-scale imagery collected from UAVs, to airborne hyperspectral imagery at the meter-scale, to the 10’s of meter scale from satellite multispectral imaging systems, the diversity of data representing the Earth’s surface at different scales enables us to ask questions from the hyperlocal to continental and global scale. We combine these data to better understand processes and change occurring on the Earth.

Project Lead

Biodiversity sustains life on Earth and is rapidly changing under the sixth mass extinction. While conservation focuses on species- specific management, there is a need for bioindicators to study, monitor, and assess our success at curbing biodiversity loss globally.

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