California Field Campaign Helping Scientists Protect Diverse Ecosystems


Above Santa Barbara County, the Surface Biology and Geology High-Frequency Time Series, or SHIFT, campaign collects data to understand land and aquatic ecosystems.

With a plane crisscrossing the sky and researchers working on land and sea, the Surface Biology and Geology High-Frequency Time Series campaign (SHIFT) combines the ability of airborne science instruments to gather data over widespread areas with the more concentrated observations scientists conduct in the field to study natural environments.

SHIFT is jointly led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Nature Conservancy, and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and one of its primary goals is to generate the most precise, high-time-frequency data on plant and aquatic communities ever collected over such a vast region. The 640-square-mile (1,656-square-kilometer) study area, which stretches from Los Padres National Forest in the east to the Central California coast and into the coastal ocean in the west, includes some of the most dynamic ecosystems in the world.

The data, collected on a weekly basis from late February until the end of May, measures changes in the characteristics of vegetation across the landscape and tracks critical plant species as they emerge from winter dormancy. It will also provide clues about the health and resilience of ecosystems as California’s climate grows drier. For The Nature Conservancy and UCSB, both of which maintain nature preserves in the study area, the information collected will inform strategies to protect natural environments in the face of human-created pressures.

Continue reading at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Image via Jet Propulsion Laboratory