Grand Challenges: Climate Mitigation and Land-Use
Detection and Monitoring of Second-Generation Biofuel Crops in the USA
Climate change, and how to mitigate and adapt to it, is one of the grandest challenges currently facing our society. The land system will play a critical role in this challenge by continuing to provide food, fuel, and shelter, while also contributing to multiple new land-based climate mitigation efforts. Many socio-economic models project unprecedented areas of future second-generation biofuel crop expansion, coupled with carbon capture and sequestration, in order to achieve 2 degrees warming targets. Unlike the first-generation of biofuel crops that largely displaced food crops, leading to increase food prices, these new second-generation biofuel crops, such as switchgrass, are able to grow on marginal lands. However, their current spatial extent and usage is not well quantified, and although this technology has the potential to significantly improve our climate mitigation efforts, the large-scale land-use change involved also has the potential to negatively impact biodiversity, water cycles, and food security, and will be one of many future pressures on the land system. To address these concerns, this project is focused on developing sophisticated modeling, detection, and monitoring technologies for switchgrass crops, using remote sensing data, to determine their spatial extent, conversions from previous land-use/cover, and estimates of their condition and yield, which will be invaluable information for climate mitigation decision-making.