Intensive, on the ground measurements underlay the majority of our work. Long-term plot measurements, quick surveys, and intensive soil/tree sampling are required to build solid datasets - and we do them. Many of these are long-term plots, where trees are tagged for repeat measurements. Nothing beats getting data the old fashioned way.
Examination of the biochemical impacts of disturbances and management actions - like soil nitrogen - requires specialized instrumentation. We use a suite of systems to explore the intricate and important relationship between forests, disturbances, and chemistry.
Perhaps the biggest and most intriguing challenge is the use of "big data" and broad data sets. There is an immense amount of information available on forest change at broad scales, and it takes specific and focused techniques to make sense of it. But it's an amazing opportunity - at no time in history have we had such a broad view of change, and the ability to synthesize it. Our work which spans the North Pacific coastal forests, our continental scale disturbance pattern, and the focus on water across the lower 48 are examples of this type of work.
The perspective and scaling potential you get from satellites is amazing. Using new methods and algorithms, we explore the consequences of disturbance and management over very large scales - from states to continents. For example, we are linking forest disturbances to changes in streamflow at the national level via 30m resolution imagery - quite a task, and only possible with satellites.