User Profile: Fred Huemmrich

Who uses NASA Earth Science Data? Fred Huemmrich, to study ecosystem functions and how ecosystems respond to environmental conditions.

Fred Huemmrich, Research Assistant Professor, Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology and affiliated with the Geography and Environmental Systems Department, University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Research interests: Ecosystem functions and how ecosystems respond to environmental conditions. Huemmrich’s interests also include studies of plant physiological conditions through the use of optical signals from plant spectral reflectance and fluorescence.

Current research/work focus: Use of ground, aircraft, and satellite measurements of spectral reflectance and fluorescence to estimate the movement of carbon through an ecosystem. While Huemmrich is interested in developing approaches that are globally applicable, his fieldwork focuses on agricultural systems and high latitude ecosystems, including measurements of leaf canopy reflectance and carbon movement in a cornfield near NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center along with fieldwork in the boreal forests of Canada and the tundra of Alaska.

Data Products and Tools Used:

  • Carbon movement and meteorology data from Fluxnet, which are available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center (ORNL DAAC). These are tower measurements from specific sites, generally at 30 minute intervals
  • Hyperion imaging spectrometer imagery ( Hyperion flies on the Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) satellite and is presently the only operating civilian imaging spectrometer in orbit. It provides globally distributed hyperspectral imagery
  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) subsets from ORNL DAAC (, particularly Collection 6 MODIS surface reflectance data

“This research would just not be possible without data from the NASA Earth science support of aircraft and spacecraft data collection platforms,” Huemmrich says. “I am interested in studying the entire terrestrial biosphere, and satellite observations are the tool that allows this science.”

Research findings: Huemmrich’s high-latitude studies have shown that there are strong variations in the light use efficiency of different types of tundra plants (mosses, lichens, and vascular plants). This results in over three-fold differences in productivity occurring within just a few meters. As climate change will affect the relative growth rates of these different plant types, Huemmrich’s research leads him to expect significant changes in tundra productivity patterns.

Huemmrich also has found that optical data as inputs into simple models can describe over 80% of the variance in ecosystem productivity without the use of any other inputs. In addition, the use of hyperspectral imagery can be used to observe spatial variability in productivity that is difficult to measure on the ground.

Read About the Research:

Huemmrich, K.F., Gamon, J. A., Tweedie, C.E., Campbell, P.K.E., Landis, D.R. & Middleton. (2013). Arctic Tundra Vegetation Functional Types Based on Photosynthetic Physiology and Optical Properties. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 6(2), 265–275. doi:10.1109/jstars.2013.2253446

Campbell, P.K.E., Middleton, E.M., Thome, K.J., Kokaly, R.F., Huemmrich, K.F., Lagomasino, D., Novick, K.A. & Brunsell, N.A. (2013). EO-1 Hyperion Reflectance Time Series at Calibration and Validation Sites: Stability and Sensitivity to Seasonal Dynamics. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 6(2), 276–290. doi:10.1109/jstars.2013.2246139

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