Faith Johnson

Graduate Student | Department of Civil Engineering | NC State University

2019-20 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

I am a third year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Beth Sciaudone in the department of Civil Engineering at NC State University. I chose NC State because I was interested in finding a program where I could research the impacts of climate change on other parts of the world as well as here in the United States. This interest in climate change impacts along the coast solidified during an undergrad senior capstone project in which I studied how sea level rise impacts developing island nations. My long-term career goals are to work in either industry or the government finding and implementing solutions to problems caused by climate change.

Description of research:

In my time at NCSU I have worked on a project analyzing how two salt marshes in North Carolina have changed over time by quantifying where land is being lost and through what mechanisms. To do this, I used Google Earth Engine to access Landsat imagery and create a series of cloud- free composites over time for both locations. I used Matlab to analyze the changes with time. I am currently using a similar skill set to track changes on atolls and find processes driving that change. Atolls are carbonate reef systems found in subtropical and tropical oceans that may be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Increasing ocean temperatures (causing coral die-off), ocean acidification (decreasing coral resiliency), and increasing sea level rise are all potential threats, and the effects may be catastrophic for both humans and threatened species. However, we lack comprehensive understanding about the primary processes driving atoll island evolution. I am using remote sensing to help understand the processes driving land change through time. My research aligns with SE CASC Science Priority 2 – Impacts: Improve partner understanding of ecosystem, habitat, and species impacts of climate and land use change, as well as the understanding of how these changes affect resources of specific concern to resource managers, and the associated SE CASC Science Goals: Improve partner understanding of how habitats and ecosystems will be affected by changing climate and land use. My research also aligns with the Secretary of the Interior Priorities 1: Creating a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt.

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