Brian Wardlow

Brian Wardlow

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Expertise & Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
  • Outreach

Title Geography and GIScience Faculty Area Leader
Address 316 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0973
Phone 402-472-6729
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail bwardlow2@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

I joined UNL as a research assistant professor in 2006 and led the GIScience Program at the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) for six years. I have also been a faculty fellow with the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT). I worked on a range of research projects that analyzed satellite-based Earth observations to incorporate information about vegetation health, soil moisture, and evapotranspiration into drought monitoring, both in the United States and internationally. In March 2012, I became an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources (SNR), where I will teach remote sensing courses, maintain my current research program and expand my remote sensing work through new collaborations within SNR and UNL.

Research Interests

My selection of a career path in the field of remote sensing stems from interests in agriculture and natural resources that I developed growing up in small-town Nebraska and during my academic training in environmental geography and GIScience. The remote sensing perspective from satellites and aircraft offers a unique vantage point to study key ecological and environmental patterns and processes across the landscape. As a result, my primary research focus has been to apply remote sensing as a tool to acquire critical information needed to better understand and address agricultural, environmental, and natural resource issues.

My current remote sensing research is centered on three predominant themes:

  1. classifying and mapping land use/land cover (LULC) patterns of agricultural landscapes,
  2. characterizing vegetation dynamics such as phenology and biophysical characteristics, and
  3. drought monitoring and early warning.

Research Activities

I have been involved in a number of remote sensing projects that investigate how new types of satellite observations and innovative modeling techniques can improve drought monitoring systems. My research has been funded by various federal agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A prime example is the development of the Vegetation Drought Response Index, or VegDRI, online at http://vegdri.unl.edu/, which integrates satellite, climate, and biophysical data to depict drought-related vegetation stress across the United States.

VegDRI map for July 25, 2011 depicting the extreme severe to extreme agricultural drought conditions over the south-central United States. VegDRI is becoming increasingly used by the U.S. Drought Monitor, National Weather Service, and individual states as part of their operational drought monitoring activities.

VegDRI map for July 25, 2011 depicting the extreme severe to extreme agricultural drought conditions over the south-central United States. VegDRI is becoming increasingly used by the U.S. Drought Monitor, National Weather Service, and individual states as part of their operational drought monitoring activities.

VegDRI is being used by the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), the National Weather Service, and individual states. I have also collaborated with NASA scientists to apply soil moisture and groundwater information from land surface models, which integrate satellite-based gravity information, into the operational USDM. Weekly maps from this project are published on the NDMC's website: http://drought.unl.edu/MonitoringTools/NASAGRACEDataAssimilation.aspx. I am also working with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists to develop remote sensing- based drought indices related to evapotranspiration for drought assessments. These new tools are being increasingly adopted by state-of-the-art drought monitoring systems such as the USDM and attempts are underway to extend them to other parts of the world. In addition to monitoring, I have worked with faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Nevada-Reno to use historical remote sensing observations, climate data, and bird surveys to better understand the impact of drought and heat waves on avian populations over the United States. This study is one of the few to focus on the ecological impacts of these natural hazards. It provided new insights into both the positive and negative impacts that droughts and heat waves can have on bird population dynamics, which can be used for natural resource and wildlife management.

I edited a book, "Remote Sensing of Drought: Innovative Monitoring Approaches," that includes contributions from leading remote sensing scientists around the world. They summarize cutting-edge remote sensing tools that are applicable to drought monitoring, food security and water scarcity. I also provide technical guidance for drought-related topics as a member of the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Applications Working Group and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Drought Definitions and Indices Study Team.

Remote of Drought: Innovative Drought Monitoring approaches was published by CRC Press in April 2012, which summarize new cutting-edge satellite remote sensing techniques throughout the world being applied for drought monitoring and future considerations of such applications.

Remote of Drought: Innovative Drought Monitoring approaches was published by CRC Press in April 2012, which summarize new cutting-edge satellite remote sensing techniques throughout the world being applied for drought monitoring and future considerations of such applications.

My research associated with characterization of agriculture-related LULC patterns and vegetation dynamics has involved projects such as classification of irrigated cropland and estimation of crop phenology from both close range and satellite. I had the privilege to host and work with Dr. Toshihiro Sakamoto, a Japanese visiting scientist at SNR from the National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES). We worked on developing new satellite-based methods to estimate critical crop stage dates for corn and soybeans. These dates can be used to detect inter-annual, local variations in crop phenology across large regions such as the U.S. Corn Belt to better understand the interplay between climate, phenology, and crop yields. This work was also extended to develop cost-efficient digital camera methods to capture field-level crop phenology information, as well as satellite-based approaches to estimate gross primary productivity (GPP) on crops in collaboration with Carbon Sequestration Program faculty at UNL. I have also worked with USGS scientists to develop methods to rapidly classify and map irrigated cropland across the United States (http://earlywarning.usgs.gov/Usirrigation/). This improved LULC data helps various water resource management and environmental modeling efforts.

A 250-meter crop map derived from multitemporal MODIS vegetation index (VI) data and multispectral 30-meter Landsat imagery over southwest Kansas.  Field-level crop patterns and conditions can be mapped and monitoring using time-series MODIS VI data for detect changes in land use/land cover patterns, assess crop conditions, monitor crop phenology, and estimate biophysical characteristics of crops.

A 250-meter crop map derived from multitemporal MODIS vegetation index (VI) data and multispectral 30-meter Landsat imagery over southwest Kansas. Field-level crop patterns and conditions can be mapped and monitoring using time-series MODIS VI data for detect changes in land use/land cover patterns, assess crop conditions, monitor crop phenology, and estimate biophysical characteristics of crops.

Teaching

Outreach and education on the use of remote sensing and GIS for drought-related applications has been a major component of my work over the past six years. I have presented the use of these geospatial technologies to students and scientists from various disciplines at national conferences and international workshops in countries such as Argentina, China, Mali, and Turkey. In addition, I have been involved in hands-on technical training with scientists from Canada, the Czech Republic, and India. I also serve as the co-advisor for the Geography Student Organization (GSO) and Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) geographic honor society at UNL. My teaching responsibilities include remote sensing courses offered at UNL such as Introduction to Remote Sensing, Digital Image Analysis, Applications of Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Natural Resources, and special topics.

Selected Publications

Wardlow, B.D. and S.L. Egbert, 2009. A comparison of MODIS 250-m evi and ndvi data for crop mapping in the U.S. Central Great Plains. International Journal of Remote Sensing, In press.
Wardlow, B.D., M.J. Hayes, M.D. Svoboda, T. Tadesse, and K.H. Smith, 2009. Sharpening the Focus on Drought – New Monitoring and Assessment Tools at the National Drought Mitigation Center. Earthzine, In press.
Brown, J.F., B.D. Wardlow, T. Tadesse, M.J. Hayes, and B.C. Reed, 2008. The vegetation drought response index (VegDRI): a new integrated approach for monitoring drought stress in vegetation. GIScience and Remote Sensing, 45(1):16-46.
Gu, Y., E. Hunt, B.D. Wardlow, J.B. Basara, J.F. Brown, and J.P. Verdin, 2008. Evaluation and validation of modis ndvi and ndwi for vegetation drought monitoring using Oklahoma mesonet soil moisture data. Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2008GL035772.
Tadesse, T., B. Wardlow, and M. Hayes, 2008. The application of data mining for drought monitoring and prediction. Data Mining Applications for Empowering Knowledge Societies, Idea Group Publishers, New York, NY, pp. 280-291.
Tadesse, T., M. Haile, G. Senay, C. Knutson, and B.D. Wardlow, 2008. Building integrated drought monitoring and food security systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Natural Resources Forum, 32, 265-279.
Wardlow, B.D. and S.L. Egbert, 2008. Large-area crop mapping using time-series MODIS 250 mndvi data: an assessment for the U.S. Central Great Plains. Remote Sensing of Environment, 112:1096-1116.
Gitelson, A.A., B.D. Wardlow, G.P. Keydan, and B. Leavitt, 2007. Green leaf area index estimation in crops using MODIS 250 meter data. Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L20403, doi:10.1029/2007GL031620.
Wardlow, B.D., S.L. Egbert, and J.H. Kastens, 2007. Analysis of time-series MODIS 250-meter vegetation index data for crop discrimination in the U.S. Central Great Plains. Remote Sensing of Environment, 108, 290-310.
Albright, T., A. Pidgeon, C. Rittenhouse, M. Clayton, C. Flather, P. Culbert, B. Wardlow, and V. Radeloff, 2009.. Effects of drought on avian community structure. Global Change Biology, In review.

Educational Background

  • BS - Northwest Missouri State University, Geography (1994)
  • MS - Kansas State University, Geography (1996)
  • PhD - University of Kansas, Geography (2005)

SNR Faculty Area(s)

Affiliations (index)

Notable Websites

Other Areas of Interest

Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Land Use/Land Cover Characterization, Vegetation-Climate Interactions, Drought Monitoring, Biogeography, Landscape Ecology, Remote Sensing/GIS Applications for Agricultural and Natural Resource Management/Monitoring

SNR Areas of Expertise

Keyword Expert Level

10 - Top Expert
1 - Mild Interest

Remote Sensing

10

Land Use/Land Cover

8

Drought

6

Geography

6

Select a keyword and see other SNR faculty and staff with this interest or expertise.

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Ecological Spectral Information System (additional funding)
Starting Date 6/15/2013
Principal Investigators
Art Zygielbaum
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 12/31/2015
Funding Level $43,835.00
Funding Source University of Wisconsin - Madison

 
Grant Title NebraskaView Program Development 2013 (additional funding)
Starting Date 12/13/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Milda Vaitkus
Ending Date 6/30/2018
Funding Level $1,000.00
Funding Source Department of the Interior - America View

 
Grant Title ESI Rapid Drought Onset (additional funding)
Starting Date 9/1/2014
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 8/31/2015
Funding Level $21,300.00
Funding Source US Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title Monitoring Phenology in the North Central Region of the United States
Starting Date 9/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 8/31/2015
Funding Level $3,998.00
Funding Source Department of the Interior - America View

 
Grant Title Predicting Climate Extreme GHA
Starting Date 11/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Tsegaye Tadesse
Co-PIs
Gui Baigorria
Shimelis, Beyene
Mike Hayes
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 10/31/2016
Funding Level $987,767.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title NebraskaView Program Development 2013
Starting Date 12/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Milda Vaitkus
Ending Date 9/15/2014
Funding Level $23,673.00
Funding Source Department of the Interior

 
Grant Title Developing VegDRI-Canada-Phase 2
Starting Date 11/15/2013
Principal Investigators
Tsegaye Tadesse
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 3/31/2014
Funding Level $21,943.00
Funding Source Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

 
Grant Title Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Support for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture
Starting Date 10/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Karin Callahan
Ending Date 3/31/2014
Funding Level $10,000.00
Funding Source Nebraska Department of Agriculture

 
Grant Title ET Mapping Over North America
Starting Date 12/31/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Ending Date 12/12/2016
Funding Level $106,576.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title Rapid Response Drought Monitoring (additional funding)
Starting Date 8/14/2012
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Brian Fuchs
Mike Hayes
Mark Svoboda
Tsegaye Tadesse
Ending Date 8/13/2016
Funding Level $324,564.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title 2013 Workshop on Remote Sensing for Drought Monitoring and Water Resources Applications
Starting Date 8/15/2013
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 10/1/2013
Funding Level $24,553.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title Collaboration WI: Facilitating Adaptive Management under Conditions of Rapid Drought Onset using the Goes-Based Evaporative Stress Index
Starting Date 8/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 7/31/2015
Funding Level $20,737.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title Ecological Spectral Information System
Starting Date 6/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Art Zygielbaum
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 6/14/2014
Funding Level $75,665.00
Funding Source University of Wisconsin

 
Grant Title Nebraska Update PAD
Starting Date 9/15/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Milda Vaitkus
Ending Date 9/14/2014
Funding Level $20,000.00
Funding Source U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey

 
Grant Title Moisture into NLDAS (additional funding)
Starting Date 9/1/2013
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Ending Date 8/31/2014
Funding Level $37,491.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title ET Mapping Over North America
Starting Date 6/22/2012
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Brian Fuchs
Tsegaye Tadesse
Karin Callahan
Ending Date 6/21/2013
Funding Level $29,144.00
Funding Source University of Maryland

 
Grant Title Evapotranspiration & Drought Monitor
Starting Date 8/24/2012
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Ending Date 8/22/2013
Funding Level $8,864.00
Funding Source US Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title Rapid Response Drought Monitoring
Starting Date 8/14/2012
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mike Hayes
Mark Svoboda
Tsegaye Tadesse
Ending Date 8/13/2013
Funding Level $121,082.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title Moisture in to NLDAS (additional funding)
Starting Date 8/1/2012
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Ending Date 8/31/2013
Funding Level $36,519.00
Funding Source US Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title Dual Assimiliation of Microwave and Thermal-Infrared Satellite Observations of Soil Moisture
Starting Date 9/1/2011
Principal Investigators
Brian Wardlow
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Ending Date 8/31/2012
Funding Level $4,365.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 
Grant Title Mitigation of Ag Drought Models
Starting Date 10/1/2010
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 7/31/2012
Funding Level $20,383.00
Funding Source University of Alabama

 
Grant Title Integrating Enhanced GRACE Water Storage Data (additional funding)
Starting Date 8/6/2008
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Brian Fuchs
Soren Scott
Ending Date 8/5/2011
Funding Level $77,006.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title A GOES Thermal-Bases Frought Early Warning Index for NIDIS
Starting Date 8/1/2009
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 7/31/2012
Funding Level $62,441.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/OAR

 
Grant Title Drought Mitigation, Nebraska Project
Starting Date 7/15/2009
Principal Investigators
Mike Hayes
Co-PIs
Mark Svoboda
Cody Knutson
Brian Wardlow
Ending Date 7/14/2010
Funding Level $437,243.00
Funding Source US Department of Agriculture - CSREES

 
Grant Title Incorporating Remote Sensing Information into the U.S. Drought Monitor
Starting Date 2/1/2007
Principal Investigators
Mark Svoboda
Co-PIs
Brian Wardlow
Tsegaye Tadesse
Ending Date 9/30/2010
Funding Level $54,824.00
Funding Source US Geological Survey

 

Graduate Program(s)

Master of Arts in Geography

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences


including specializations in
  • Bio-Atmospheric Interactions
  • Climate Assessment & Impacts
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Remote Sensing

Doctor of Philosophy in Geography

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences


including specializations in
  • Bio-Atmospheric Interactions
  • Climate Assessment & Impacts

Courses Taught in the Current Semester
Course Number Course Title Day Time Cross Listing
GEOG 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing R 1000-1150 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing W 0300-0450 P GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing MWF 0900-0950 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing R 1000-1150 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing W 0300-0450 P GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing MWF 0900-0950 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing R 1000-1150 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing W 0300-0450 P GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing MWF 0900-0950 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing R 1000-1150 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing W 0300-0450 P GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing MWF 0900-0950 A GEOG/NRES 418/818
Courses Taught
Course Number Course Title Fall Even Years Fall Odd Years Spring Even Years Spring Odd Years Summer Session Cross Listing
GEOG 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing X X GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 419 Applications of Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Natural Resources X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL 419/819, NRES 420/820
GEOG 420 Remote Sensing III - Digital Image Analysis X GEOG 420/820
GEOG 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing X X GEOG/NRES 418/818
GEOG 819 Applications of Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Natural Resources X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL 419/819, NRES 420/820
GEOG 820 Remote Sensing III - Digital Image Analysis X GEOG 420/820
NRES 418 Introduction to Remote Sensing X X GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 420 Applications of Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Natural Resources X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL 419/819, NRES 420/820
NRES 818 Introduction to Remote Sensing X X GEOG/NRES 418/818
NRES 820 Applications of Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Natural Resources X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL 419/819, NRES 420/820