Invited Speakers

Dr. Keely Roth

Lead Hyperspectral Scientist, Planet Labs, PBC
Tuesday, September 13 | 1:00 pm

Looking Backwards to Move Forward: Decision-Making and Data Quality For Spaceborne Imaging Spectrometer Applications

As part of the Carbon Mapper mission, Planet plans to build, launch, and operate a spaceborne constellation of high-performance imaging spectrometers. With ambitious goals to precisely map and monitor methane and CO2 emissions from facilities worldwide, and the opportunity to generate a cutting-edge suite of land and ocean Earth observation remote sensing products, high quality data are at the heart of mission success. However, every system comes with design decisions, trade-offs, and ultimately, consequences to downstream applications and end-users. We will discuss a few of the exciting potential applications for Carbon Mapper mission data and the critical roles hardware, software, and calibration/validation play in unlocking these applications. We will also consider how we can better evaluate trade-offs, make decisions, and ensure transparency and traceability in data products for end-users.

Dr. Keely Roth is a Lead Hyperspectral Scientist at Planet Labs, PBC. She has over 15 years’ experience in remote sensing and geospatial analysis and specializes in imaging spectroscopy applications for vegetation. She received her master’s and PhD degrees in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Keely joined Planet in 2021 as part of the Carbon Mapper mission, a public-private partnership developing a hyperspectral satellite constellation to detect greenhouse gas emissions and generate a suite of cutting-edge land and ocean data products. Her work on the mission spans calibration and validation for core image products, as well as science algorithms for higher level data products. Outside Planet, she is a part-time Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Utah, and an active member of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society Administrative Committee. Prior to joining Planet, Keely was a remote sensing scientist and data science manager at The Climate Corporation, working to develop data science-driven digital agriculture tools for farmers worldwide.

Dr. Robert Gillies

Director, Utah Climate Center, Utah State University and State Climatologist, State of Utah
Wednesday, September 14 | 11:00 am

“Water, Water Everywhere but Not A Drop to Drink”

As the Ancient Mariner poem goes on to say:

“Water, Water Everywhere and All the Boards did Shrink”

Albeit that the intermountain west’s climate is hardly the epitome of the dire-straights the mariners found themselves being caught-up in the Doldrums, climate change is causing a shift towards warmer and drier conditions. One can perceive the climate system as an orchestral performance in which harmonics induced from the oceans interact to frame and shift the climate one way or another; as is currently the case of Western U.S. drought.

The study of climate science involves so-called “big data,” i.e., extremely large datasets of observations that cover all aspects of the earth system – atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere, and lithosphere – as well as numerical models (Global and Regional Climate Models), all of which are analyzed using specialized software language programs. These models and their measurements provide a more robust, defendable, and applicable characterization of how local and global climates are changing.

The presentation will build around climate research from the Utah Climate Center: Climate oscillations (harmonics) and interactions will be explored beyond that of ENSO and their effect examined with respect to water resources. In particular, given knowledge of ocean precursors, the annual water supply of the Colorado River is predictable up to several years in advance.

Of particular concern is the shrinking Great Salt Lake (GSL): Research undertaken in the Center has linked Utah's groundwater resources to the GSL water level. In the long run, the GSL is essentially the fuel gauge for groundwater because the region's groundwater variation is dominated by decadal recharge/discharge events: Investigation indicates that climate models predict a net loss of total water storage, and this signifies an irreversible decline of the GSL volume at the decadal timescale.

Related research involves the drying trend in the western U.S. which has been caused by a decreasing trend in trough patterns, rather than more ridge patterns and is attributed to anthropogenic forcing. Given, the aforementioned, the presentation will also present recent work on the development of seasonal forecasts of precipitation and snowpack in the western U.S.

Dr. Robert R. Gillies is the Director of the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University (USU) and State Climatologist for the State of Utah. He is a full professor in meteorology in the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate (PSC), College of Agricultural Sciences at USU.  Prior to the position of Director, he held a joint position in PSC and the Department of Watershed Sciences in the College of Natural Resources at USU. Dr. Gillies came to USU from The Pennsylvania State University. After completing his PhD in meteorology and remote sensing, Dr. Gillies continued his research as a research associate in the Department of Meteorology and the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. Dr. Gillies was a member of Gov. Jon Huntsman’s scientific panel that compiled a report on climate change as it pertains to Utah for the Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel.