National Drought Mitigation Center

Who We Are

About Brian

Brian Wardlow joined the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an associate professor and remote sensing scientist in March 2012.  He will maintain strong ties as a faculty fellow with the National Drought Mitigation Center, which is based in UNL’s School of Natural Resources. Wardlow will continue to participate in several ongoing projects within the NDMC and also work with the Center on future research and applications to advance the application of geospatial technologies for drought monitoring and early warning in the United States and internationally.

During his time at the NDMC, from 2006 to 2012, Wardlow led the GIScience and Analysis Program Area. He worked with Tsegaye Tadesse, Karin Callahan, Chris Poulsen, Jess Brown at the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center, and others to develop the Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) and the Vegetation Outlook (VegOut) tools to monitor and anticipate drought. The GIScience and Analysis group also worked with NASA to begin publishing and distributing weekly maps showing changes in groundwater, root zone moisture and surface moisture, based on satellite data. They have also collaborated with U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists to develop remote sensing tools to monitor evapotranspiration (ET) in support of drought monitoring.

Wardlow recently edited a book with Martha Anderson, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and James Verdin, USGS and National Integrated Drought Information System, entitled Remote Sensing of Drought: Innovative Monitoring Approaches, which will be published by CRC Press in April 2012. The book details an array of new satellite-based tools now available to monitor key environmental conditions relevant to drought, such as ET, groundwater, precipitation, soil moisture, and vegetation health.

Wardlow has also worked on various remote sensing projects to characterize agricultural landscapes and monitor seasonal dynamics of vegetation, particularly crops. These activities included estimating crop phenology dates from satellites and at close range, developing classification strategies in collaboration with USGS EROS to map irrigated agricultural lands across the United States, and assessing whether satellite observations can be used to retrieve accurate estimates of specific crop conditions such as green leaf area index. Wardlow will continue to work in these remote sensing topical areas that have application in key areas such as drought, food security, and water resources. His specific research interests include land use/land cover mapping and monitoring, climate-vegetation interactions, biogeography, and remote sensing/GIS applications for agriculture and natural resource management and assessment.

Before joining the NDMC, Wardlow was a NASA Earth System Science graduate research fellow at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) program at the University of Kansas. While at KARS, his dissertation research focused on the development of regional-scale crop mapping and monitoring protocol for the U.S. Central Great Plains using time-series MODIS 250-meter vegetation index data. Wardlow also worked as a remote sensing scientist for the National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD) program at EROS. Wardlow received a Ph.D. in 2005 in Geography from the University of Kansas, specializing in remote sensing and plant ecology, an M.A. in 1996 in Geography from Kansas State University, specializing in remote sensing and GIS, and a B.S. in 1996 in geography and geology from Northwest Missouri State University, specializing in environmental geography.