National Drought Mitigation Center


Spanish scientist refines use of remote sensing of drought for forests

July 23, 2013

On a trip to Colorado, Cristina Domingo-Marimon visited Summit Lake at Mount Evans in Arapaho National Forest. Behind her is a ridge that goes from Mount Spalding (right, 13842 ft) to Mount Evans (left, 14264 ft).

Cristina Domingo-Marimon, from the Geography Department at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, is a visiting scientist at the NDMC, April 15-July 31. Her doctoral studies focus on the characterization of drought patterns over forested areas through remote sensing. She is particularly interested in the unmanaged privately owned forests that cover 60 percent of the land in Catalonia, where fire is a frequent risk.

Domingo-Marimon is working with Brian Wardlow, formerly with the National Drought Mitigation Center and now director of the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technology, with Mark Svoboda, leader of the NDMC’s Monitoring Program Area, and with Mike Hayes, director of the NDMC. CALMIT is also based at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“They are really good,” she said. “Talking with them gives me a new framework for the whole discipline, from the most theoretical to the most applied.”

Eventually, remote sensing of drought may be able to help provide early warnings of fire risk, Domingo-Marimon said, although her research will primarily focus on determining which data provide the best temporal and spatial resolution for the purpose. She is working with researchers here to evaluate LANDSAT and MODIS data, and to learn how to combine remote sensing data with climatological data and indices.

“The idea is to try to evaluate remote sensing tools as a monitoring system for specialized researchers, fire managers and end users,” she said. Some ground truth is available from a network of forest agents that report on forest conditions.

A fellowship from the Spanish government is supporting her work with the NDMC.  Domingo-Marimon has also studied at the Universitat Trier in Germany.

Although Lincoln, Nebraska, isn’t exactly the America of big cities and skyscrapers that the international community sees most frequently, Domingo-Marimon is enjoying the Great Plains lifestyle and has found other inquisitive people with whom to explore Lincoln and nearby cities.