Research Awards and Grants (February 2020)

Title: An Operational Multisource Land Surface Phenology Product from Landsat and Sentinel 2

PI: Gray, Joshua

Direct Sponsor: Boston University

Amount Awarded: $119,778

Abstract: Dense time series of moderate spatial resolution imagery from the Sentinel 2A and 2B Multispectral Instrument (MSI) and the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) are presenting the land remote sensing community with exciting new opportunities to monitor, map, and characterize temporal dynamics in land surface properties with unprecedented spatial detail and quality. By combining imagery from all three sensors, users will be able to exploit multi-temporal information in a way that has not been previously possible. At the same time, the large data volumes and high-dimensionality of blended time series from Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2 introduce substantial new challenges for users who wish to exploit these data sets. Land surface phenology (LSP) products, which synthesize both the timing of phenophase transitions and also quantify the nature and magnitude of seasonality in remotely sensed ecosystem conditions, provide a simple and intuitive way to reduce data volumes and redundancy, while at the same time retaining information that is useful to a wide range of applications including ecosystem and agro-ecosystem modeling, monitoring the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability and extreme events, crop-type discrimination, and land cover, land use, and land cover change mapping. Methods to monitor and map phenology from coarse spatial resolution instruments such as MODIS are both mature and operational. However, the spatial resolution of MODIS is inadequate for most of the applications identified above. The goal of this proposal is to address the need for LSP data products at moderate spatial resolution. To this end, we propose to implement an operational Land Surface Phenology product at moderate spatial resolution based on blended time series of Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel 2A and 2B MSI data. To demonstrate the need for this product, describe the strategy we propose, and illustrate the viability of our algorithm, this proposal includes four main elements. First, we summarize the background and justification for our proposed product. Second, we provide a formal definition for our proposed LSP data product, which includes a set of Science Data Sets (SDSs) that identify the timing of phenophase transitions and characterize the nature and magnitude of seasonality in remotely sensed land surface conditions. Third, we describe an algorithm that we developed and tested over the last several years, along with the input data requirements required for our proposed product. Fourth, we provide a detailed strategy for product validation along with validation results from a wide range of land cover types that demonstrate the effectiveness and accuracy of our algorithm. For initial implementation, we propose to generate our product at continental scale for North America at 30-meter spatial resolution using the Harmonized Landsat-Sentinel (HLS) data set that is being generated by NASA. Finally, as part of this effort we propose to collaborate with Prof. Lars Eklundh at Lund University in Sweden, one of the pioneers of land surface phenology, who is funded in Europe to develop land surface phenology algorithms and data sets based on Sentinel-2.


Title: Ecosystem Response to Traditional and Novel Upland Hardwood Regeneration Treatments

PI: Forrester, Jodi

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $55,686

Abstract: Oaks (Quercus spp.) are a dominant component of the overstory in nearly 50% of the forested land base (~79 million ha) in the eastern United States (Johnson et al., 2002; Smith et al., 2009), but widespread oak regeneration failure throughout their natural range threatens the persistence of oak cover (Dey 2014). As a result, contemporary deciduous oak-hickory (Quercus-Carya) forests are shifting towards domination by red maple (Acer rubrum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), sugar maple (A. saccharum), or aspen (Populus spp.) (Abrams 1998, 2005, Nowacki and Abrams 2008, Dey 2014). These mesophytic species are more vulnerable to drought, fire, and insects with greater potential for reduced productivity and carbon storage capacity (Elliott et al. 2015, Roman et al. 2015, Klos et al. 2009). The increasing importance of more mesophytic and fire-sensitive species is linked to reduced water quantity and altered hydrology and nutrient availability through changes in stemflow, throughfall and litter quality (Alexander and Arthur 2010, Caldwell et al. 2016).This widespread conversion from dominance by oak to maple and other mesophytic species was caused by changes to the historical disturbance regime (Lorimer 1989, Runkle 1982, Rentch et al. 2003a, b). Prior to Euro- American settlement, mixed-oak forests were characterized by complex structure and diverse species composition, with high levels of heterogeneity at both the stand- and landscape-scales (Rentch et al. 2003a, b). Widespread resource extraction and other factors associated with Euro-American settlement (e.g., land clearing and subsequent land abandonment, wildfires, grazing, etc.), combined with pervasive clearcutting on public lands in the mid- to late 20th century, homogenized species composition (e.g., conversion of mixed-oak stands to pure yellow-poplar) and reduced structural complexity at all scales (Lorimer 1989, Runkle 1982, Rentch et al. 2003a, b). Mixed oak forests have high economic and ecological value. Declines in the amount of oak forests have significantly negative effects on water quantity and quality, nutrient cycling, and floral and faunal diversity. Sustainable management and restoration of oak ecosystems have become primary goals for many federal and state natural resource agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations (Dey 2014). Private landowners are also seeking novel approaches to manage for both high-quality timber and wildlife. Silvicultural recommendations for oak forests have advanced over the past decades. We propose to evaluate oak regeneration under traditional silvicultural systems and use these results to guide the design of an alternative expanding-gap approach; to initiate baseline sampling imperative in the long-term evaluation of the expanding-gap approach; and use stand- and landscape-scale simulations to test the degree to which a gap-based, silvicultural approach will increase: 1) oak regeneration, 2) structural complexity and species diversity; and 3) carbon sequestration and storage. This project will contribute to fundamental knowledge of the extensive, second-growth hardwood forests of the Southern Appalachians and will apply a new management practice to meet multiple goals of ecosystem function, biodiversity, and commodity production. Biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, and water yield need not be conflicting alternatives to timber production. Results from the proposed research will aid in developing management goals for greater structural, compositional and functional diversity in mature oak forests.


Title: MMC APS High Frequency Monitoring Data

PI: Gray, Joshua

Direct Sponsor: RTI International (aka Research Triangle Institute)

Amount Awarded: $15,000

Abstract: North Carolina State University would be pleased to confirm our commitment to serve as a sub-awarded to RTI in support of the competition for the Millennium Challenge Corporation cooperative agreement application in response to funding opportunity 95332418N0002, PARTNERSHIPS with MCC Program, for a proposed period of performance anticipated to be for a period of up to 30 months. Our organization will be supporting this team by providing general oversight of the project, ensuring project advancement, and providing supervision of the Research Practitioner and Graduate Student.


Title: Urban and Community Forestry Economic Impact Analysis

PI: Parajuli, Rajan

Direct Sponsor: Virginia Department of Forestry

Amount Awarded: $130,663

Abstract: Economic contribution analysis communicates the greater monetary benefits of the urban and community forestry sector in terms of contribution to gross domestic product, jobs, and labor income to policy makers and legislators. This project will involve conducting an economic contribution analysis of the urban and community forest industries in the Southern region (a 13-state region), and in 13 participating states. The specific objectives of the project are to: (1) facilitate discussion and consensus on scope of urban and community forest industries, methodology for analysis, and report template, (2) develop and distribute relevant survey questions in cooperation with the project team, (3) document the methodology and rationale for the selected approach in a written report, (4) analyze IMPLAN and other relevant datasets for the Region, and at the state level, (5) produce reports summarizing the findings for the Region, plus each individual participating state, totaling 14 reports, and (6) present the methodology, a mid-project progress report, and a final presentation of results. To accomplish the objectives, the College of Natural Resources North Carolina State University is teamed up with Ohio State University, Virginia Tech University, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, and Mississippi State University. Our multi-disciplinary team of urban forestry professionals, natural resource social scientists, and forest economists with extensive involvement in IMPLAN modeling and economic contribution analysis is capable of accomplishing this project in a timely and efficient manner.


Title: RAPID: Disaster Recovery Decision Making in Remote Tourism-Dependent Communities

PI: Knollenberg, Whitney

Direct Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Amount Awarded: $49,385

Abstract: In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian severely impacted remote, tourism-dependent communities in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. The communities of Ocracoke and Hatteras sustained the most infrastructure damage (e.g., businesses, homes, schools, power, potable water, transportation, and telecommunications). As recovery efforts begin, tourism business owners have to determine whether or not to reinvest, while individuals employed within the tourism industry have to determine whether or not they will remain. These decision processes include utilizing their hurricane experience (both past and present) and a variety of information sources within their local networks to inform perceptions of access to an available workforce or workforce housing, the availability of recovery resources, and the likelihood of future visitors, as well as perceptions of recovery risks. In turn, these perceptions influence recovery intentions and actual recovery decisions. This study specifically explores this decision making process in near-term, post-disaster contexts. The project has three objectives to: (1) identify the information networks accessed by individuals’ within the tourism industry to inform recovery decisions; (2) evaluate the extent to which recovery information activated through those networks is processed; and (3) document decision making pathways that influence risk perceptions and intended recovery decisions.


Title: Corrugated Industry Workforce Development via Enhanced Undergraduate Education, With Emphasis on Design, Prototyping, Digital Printing, Sustainability, and Paper Property/ Packaging Property Relationships

PI: Pal, Lokendra

Direct Sponsor: International Corrugated Packing Foundation

Amount Awarded: $15,960

Abstract: Our proposal will address all three ICPF priority areas. We will ensure that students learn and perform structural design, prototyping, and techno-economic analysis to understand how design, material types/additives, and processes (analog vs. digital) affects product performances, economics, and sustainability aspect. We will also encourage students to take elective courses in sales and marketing.


Title: Model Intercomparison to Inform the Development of Open Source, Grid Scale, Power System Simulation Tools

PI: Kern, Jordan

Direct Sponsor: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Amount Awarded: $73,736

Abstract: The first objective of this project is to provide a comprehensive review and taxonomy of existing grid simulation tools to inform recommendations about the characteristics needed in future models to facilitate scientific investigations of interest to the IM3 program and wider research community. In parallel with this review, a second objective is to perform targeted numerical experiments using available grid simulation tools to illustrate capabilities as well as emerging challenges. These experiments will provide initial ‘proof of concept’ illustrations that demonstrate the need for certain model characteristics when investigating critical issues related to the future of the electric power industry and its interactions across sectors.


Title: Recycled Textiles to Bio-based Building Blocks: Technology and Business Development toward Pilot Demonstration

PI: Jameel, Hasan

Direct Sponsor: Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $70,000

Abstract: We are proposing to develop fundamental research on the effect of physico-chemical deconstruction of recycled textiles to facilitate enzymatic digestibility and optimize the production of bio-based building blocks as feedstock to manufacture value-added chemicals. This project is in the heart of the circular economy promoting the use of waste and recycled materials and thus reduce overall carbon footprint. Preliminary studies carried out by Cotton Inc. and North Carolina State University on the pre-treatment of recycled textiles show important synergy in the interaction of chemical pretreatments and mechanical defibrillation in bleached cotton textiles. In order to apply these preliminary findings to more complex textiles matrixes (i.e., dyed cotton and cotton blends with synthetic materials), it is crucial to understand the underlying mechanism affecting the enzymatic hydrolysis. Additionally, to improve the economics of the conversion process (and further reduce carbon footprint), the recyclability of residual materials (after enzymatic hydrolysis) and its possible use as feedstock in another conversion process will be considered. With the aim to develop a profitable process suitable for pilot demonstration, capital expenditure and operational costs will be monitored by conducting techno-economic assessments at the early state.


Title: A Longitudinal Mixed-method Study of Korean Transnational-split Families’ Sport And Recreation Participation, Acculturation, And Subjective Well-being.

PI: Lee, Kangjae

Direct Sponsor: University of Seoul

Amount Awarded: $8,616 (continuation amount)

Abstract: The proposed study will employ a longitudinal mixed-method design to: (Aim 1) Examine the relationship among sport/recreation patterns, transnational family contacts, and subjective well-being of KTSF; (Aim 2) Examine the relationship between sport/recreation patterns of KTSF in the U.S. and their acculturation to the host society; (Aim 3) Explore how KTSF’s sport/recreation patterns evolve during the transnational period.
The study will consist of two phases. The Phase 1 will include a questionnaire survey of 400 adult members of KTSF (husbands and wives) and children age 11-18 (middle school and high school age). In Phase 2, 15 families selected from among those who had participated in the survey will be asked to take part in in-depth, individual interviews.


Title: Tracking Collective Evaluation in Environmental Education

PI: Stevenson, Kathryn

Direct Sponsor: Duke University

Amount Awarded: $29,626

Abstract: Pisces Foundation has invited Charlotte Clark from Duke University and colleagues to submit an addendum to an ongoing effort to study collective evaluation efforts across the field of environmental education. The NC State team has been asked to characterizing the landscape of collective evaluation in EE beyond our case studies. This will include sleuthing out candidate networks, developing a relationship with a leader in that network, and documenting their work using an interview guide collaboratively developed with the Duke team. Work may also include creating a social network analysis of collaboratives engaging in collective evaluation, led by KC Busch. In addition, Kathryn Stevenson will co-chair the Promising Practices Working Group, which will include preparation time and calls/virtual meetings, as well as other tasks as needed.


Title: Breeding Bird Response to Wildfire in the Southern Appalachians Across a Burn-Severity Gradient

PI: Moorman, Christopher

Direct Sponsor: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $22,000

Abstract: Populations of many disturbance-dependent breeding bird species are in decline, in part because availability of open-canopied, young forest has decreased. Earlier research indicated that breeding bird abundance and species richness in the southern Appalachian region increases dramatically after high-severity burns due to an influx of species associated with the increase in open-canopied forest. In western montane forests, bird response to mixed-severity fire is a complex interaction between pre-fire conditions, burn severity, and time since fire, yet less is known about these relationships in eastern US forests. Unprecedented wildfires throughout the southern Appalachians during fall, 2016 provide a unique opportunity to study breeding bird response across a range of fire severities in upland hardwood forest. Our research will test the hypothesis that disturbance-dependent bird species occurrence, and overall breeding bird abundance will increase with burn severity. This research has important, applied implications for breeding bird conservation and forest management.


Title: EMN-19-F-S-04 Multiscale Color Intelligence

PI: Velev, Orlin

Direct Sponsor: Eastman Chemical Company

Amount Awarded: $189,729

Abstract: The goal of this project is to characterize in depth the factors leading to most accurate color perception from polymers, rationalize them in an efficient way, and develop means of rapid measurement of the color properties of Eastman polymer samples in production and post-production conditions. The visible color and clarity of polymer materials are a complex combination of chemical dye adsorption and structural coloration from the surface or bulk scattering, and physics of light absorption and reflection. We will seek to introduce a powerful new technique, where the color of polymer sample in pellet or particle state is precisely matched to the one of the bulk polymers by carefully matching the refractive index (RI) of the polymer to immersion liquid medium. In order to develop data sets of unprecedented informative power, the team will characterize a number of polymer samples with multiscale sizes – from sub-millimeter powders and pellets immersed in RI-matched mediums, to full scale polymer products. We will seek to confirm the hypothesis that the optical coloration of bulk polymer products can be deduced by measurements of pellets immersed in RI-matched medium. Protocols and models will be developed for laboratory and production environment evaluation of true colors when polymers are processed and shaped both as pellets and as bulk material. Illumination with both collimated and diffuse light and spectral measurements in different angular planes will allow separating direct reflection from scattering and distinguishing the effects of colorant and structural features. We will learn how to induce and then characterize the time- and temperature-driven changes (typically deterioration) of the color of bulk polymers and polymer materials and will seek to develop both experimental and modelling expertise how to interpret and treat such color changes.