Published in Science of the Total Environment, 2019
The benefits nature provides to people, called ecosystem services, are increasingly recognized and accounted for in assessments of infrastructure development, agricultural management, conservation prioritization, and sustainable sourcing. These assessments are often limited by data, however, a gap with tremendous potential to be filled through Earth observations (EO), which produce a variety of data across spatial and temporal extents and resolutions. Despite widespread recognition of this potential, in practice few ecosystem services studies use EO. Here we identify challenges and opportunities to using EO in ecosystem services modeling and assessment. Some challenges are technical, related to data awareness, processing, and access. These challenges require systematic investment in model platforms and data management. Other challenges are more conceptual but still systemic; they are byproducts of the structure of existing ecosystem services models and addressing them requires scientific investment in solutions and tools applicable to a wide range of models and approaches. We also highlight new ways in which EO can be leveraged for ecosystem services assessments, identifying promising new areas of research. More widespread use of EO for ecosystem services assessment will only be achieved if all of these types of challenges are addressed. This will require non-traditional funding and partnering opportunities from private and public agencies to promote data exploration, sharing, and archiving. Investing in this integration will be reflected in better and more accurate ecosystem services assessments worldwide.
Recommended citation: Carlos Ramirez-Reyes, Kate A. Brauman, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Gillian L. Galford, Susana B. Adamo, Christopher B. Anderson, Clarissa Anderson, Ginger R.H. Allington, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Michael T. Coe, Anna F. Cord, Laura E. Dee, Rachelle K. Gould, Meha Jain, Virginia A. Kowal, Frank E. Muller-Karger, Jessica Norriss, Peter Potapov, Jiangxiao Qiu, Jesse T. Rieb, Brian E. Robinson, Leah H. Samberg, Nagendra Singh, Sabrina H. Szeto, Brian Voigt, Keri Watson, T. Maxwell Wright, Reimagining the potential of Earth observations for ecosystem service assessments, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 665, 2019, Pages 1053-1063, ISSN 0048-9697, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.150 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.150