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Michael Alonzo Assistant Professor Environmental Science

Degrees
PhD, Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
MA, Geography, University of Denver
BA, Geography, Middlebury College

Favorite Spot on Campus
My new lab space in Hall of Science!
Bio
I use satellite and drone imagery (plus other geospatial tools) to study forests and land cover change, mostly in urban or boreal domains. Current or recent projects include:
1) Urban trees and cooling. We have a bike-mounted air temperature sensor to assess the spatial variability in urban heat here in DC. We also use this data as collected by cars in many other cities around the country to examine the relationship between tree canopy, paved surfaces, and heat.
2) Urban tree response to heat part I. We have assembled hundreds of high-resolution satellite images per year to monitor the timing of green-up in the spring and leaf loss in the fall for every tree in DC. These "phenological" measurements are a window into tree response to climate change.
3) Urban tree response to heat part II. We fly drones with thermal cameras over trees in urban areas to estimate tree transpiration during hot times of year and hot times of each day. Are trees changing their transpiration patterns in response to ever warmer conditions?
4) The rise of the boreal forest shrub. Shrubs in Alaska are getting very large and now comprise a substantial portion of carbon storage in that region. They are rarely accounted for. We are using drone and aerial imagery to gather new measurements.
5) Software for land cover change. We have developed and released a cool tool for monitoring land cover change anywhere on earth from 1984 to present on near monthly basis. One can, for example, study urban growth patterns, forest loss, or land abandonment. Students can use this tool to address their own research questions.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Teaching

Spring 2021

  • CORE-105 Complex Problems Seminar: Maxing Out Planet Earth

  • ENVS-485 Remote Sensing: Env Measuremnt

Fall 2021

  • ENVS-455 Environmental GIS