Human activities, such as urbanization and agriculture, have profound effects on landscapes by modifying their physical and biological properties. The ESS department monitors how the landscape is being used with remote sensing technologies and models their dynamics in order to catalog the changes and develop better policies.
The Konings lab is focused on understanding the coupling of the carbon and water cycles at the land surface, to allow predictions of ecosystem response to a changing climate. We are especially interested in how water (and energy) availability and vegetation function respond to each other across timescales and how vegetation water content influences this behavior. To address these issues, we primarily use the tools of remote sensing data analysis (especially at microwave-frequency) and model development.
We study the interactions between food production, food security, and the environment using a range of modern tools. The work is motivated by questions such as: What investments are most effective at raising global crop yields, in order to increase food production without expansion of agricultural lands? Will yield gains be able to keep pace with global demand for crop products, given current levels of investment? And what direct or indirect effects will efforts to raise crop productivity have on other components of the Earth System, such as climate?