A Spatial Analysis of Gullies on Mars

Proceedings of the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (2010)

L. Kincy, C. Currit, D. Butler, and S. Fuhrmann

“The possibility of life on Mars has intrigued people for over a century. A necessary re-quirement for life is water, a substance confirmed to exist on Mars. Gullies are features typically created by flowing water. Although Mars today is a desert planet, numerous geologically young gullies exist. The pres-ence of these gullies on the surface of other features, such as craters, suggests the gullies are young relative to the features on which they lie [1]. Many images of Martian gullies have been studied and compared to gullies on Earth to try to determine the origin of Mar-tian gullies. A gully is defined as a surficial feature having an alcove above a channel, and channels are typically associated with water [1].”

Disappearing Ducks? North America’s Prairie Potholes Vulnerable to Warming Climates

The loss of wetlands in the prairie pothole region of central North America due to a warmer and drier climate will negatively affect millions of waterfowl that depend on the region for food, shelter and raising young, according to research published today in the journal BioScience.

The new research shows that the region appears to be much more sensitive to climate warming and drying than previously thought.

“The impact to the millions of wetlands that attract countless ducks to these breeding grounds in spring makes it difficult to imagine how to maintain today’s level of waterfowl populations in altered climate conditions,” said Dr. Glenn Guntenspergen, a U.S. Geological Survey researcher and one of the report authors. “Parents may not have time to raise their young to where they can fly because of wetlands drying up too quickly in the warming climate of the future,” he added.

A new wetland model developed by the authors to understand the impacts of climate change on wetlands in the prairie pothole region projected major reductions in water volume, shortening of the time water remains in wetlands and changes to wetland vegetation dynamics in this 800,000-square kilometer region in the United States (North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa) and Canada.

Many wetland species — such as waterfowl and amphibians — require a minimum time in water to complete their life cycles. For example, most dabbling ducks — such as mallards and teal– require at least 80 to 110 days of surface water for their young to grow to where they can fly and for breeding adults to complete molting, the time when birds are flightless while growing new feathers. In addition, an abundance of wetlands are needed because breeding waterfowl typically isolate themselves from others of the same species.

“Unfortunately, the model simulations show that under forecasted climate-change scenarios for this region (an increase of 4-degrees Celsius), the western prairie potholes will be too dry and the eastern ones will have too few functional wetlands and nesting habitat to support historical levels of waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species,” said Dr. W. Carter Johnson, another study author and a researcher at South Dakota State University.

The authors noted that their model allowed a more comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts across the northern prairies because it simultaneously examined the hydrology and vegetation dynamics of the wetland complex, which are both important for the wildlife that depend on the prairie potholes for part or all of their life cycles.

“Our results indicate that the prairie wetlands are highly vulnerable to climate warming, and are less resilient than we previously believed,” said Guntenspergen. “All but the very wettest of the historic boom years for waterfowl production in the more arid parts of the prairie pothole region may be bust years in a 4-degrees Celsius warmer climate.”

These findings may serve as a foundation for managers and policy makers to develop management plans to prepare for and adapt to climate change in the prairie pothole region.

The article, Prairie wetland complexes as landscape functional units in a changing climate, was published in BioScience (60[2]:128-140) and authored by researchers with South Dakota State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Montana, St. Olaf College, The Desert Research Institute-University of Nevada, and the University of Idaho.

USGS, in partnership with the University of Idaho and South Dakota State University.

[Source: USGS press release]

GEO Announces Call for Participation in GEOSS Pilot

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®) announces a Call for Participation (CFP) in Phase 3 of the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP) issued by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). The CFP documents are available at: http://earthobservations.org/geoss_call_aip.shtml.

AIP-3 will build on previous project phases and is coordinated with other GEO Tasks. Specific areas of emphasis for AIP-3 include increasing the capacity for GEOSS to support Societal Benefit Areas; building on the AIP Service Architecture and the GEOSS Common Infrastructure; and increasing availability of data in GEOSS in accordance with the GEOSS Data Sharing Guidelines. AIP-3 will be conducted in 2010 with support to the Earth Observation Summit, November 2010.

The AIP-3 CFP invites GEO Members and Participating Organizations to participate in activities involving: registering components and services; testing of services; and participating in refinement of Societal Benefit Area scenarios to guide testing, demonstrations and operations of the identified interoperable services.

CFP responses are requested by 3 March 2010. Organizations responding to the CFP should plan to attend the kickoff workshop to begin development of AIP-3 to be held 11-12 March 2010, at the European Space Agency facility in Frascati, Italy.

Discussion and clarification of the CFP will be the topic of several teleconferences before the Kickoff Workshop. Agenda and logistics for these teleconferences are posted at http://www.ogcnetwork.net/AIPtelecons.

The point of contact for the AIP task is George Percivall percivall@opengeospatial.org.

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 385 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org.

GEO (Group on Earth Observations) is a voluntary partnership of 124 governments and international organizations, launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by the G8 (Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries. GEO is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. See http://earthobservations.org/about_geo.shtml.

[Source: OGC press release]