Spent the day giving a talk at Goddard and getting an amazing tour of the facilities. NASA has a very strong earth science/hazard team, and a specific strength focusing on landslides around the world. The advent of the new GPM mission has enabled them to think about higher latitude processes then they previously could - bringing them into the coastal rainforests, where landslides are a major disturbance driver of forests.
I was there to present the results of our preliminary work, funded by NASA EPSCoR, on thresholds of rain and precipitation associated with landslides in forests around southeast Alaska. I'm interested because if we can nail down what parts of the landscape are exposed to landslides, we can couple that with the wind exposure products we've already published to get a fairly complete map of exposure to natural disturbances in the region. That will allow us to test theories about ecosystem functioning over long periods of time under various disturbance regimes, something very difficult to do in places with significant fire regimes.
The landslide initiation suitability map is done, and we have a sense of weather data needs, so now it's time to find funding for a geologist to do some actual modeling to get the amount of area exposed to the slides via runouts (estimated return interval is 300-500 years, a long time but we're talking several thousand years). Then we can measure those forests vs. areas with no exposure to see if soil disturbance improves drainage and productivity, as hypothesized in 1979 (Ungolini et al.) but not tested at broad scales.
Thanks to Dalia Kirschbaum for the great tour and setting up the talk!