Nataniel Holtzman receives NASA fellowship
The Earth system science PhD student has been awarded by the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) competition.
A research project led by Nataniel Holtzman, a PhD student in Earth system science, has been selected amongst 789 proposals to the 2020 Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) competition. The FINESST program supports graduate student-designed and performed research projects that contribute to the Science Mission Directorate’s science, technology and exploration goals.
Holtzman works with assistant professor Alexandra Konings to better understand how ecosystems respond to variations in water availability, and how that will change under future climate scenarios. His research proposal, “Unraveling the Role of Plant Hydraulic Traits in Transpiration Using Microwave Radiometry,” involves using microwave remote sensing and modeling to develop a more detailed understanding of how plants store water and carry out transpiration – the rate at which they return water to the atmosphere. Holtzman will carry out field work and create maps of plant hydraulic traits to investigate how plants may respond to and influence climate.
“For the past several years, there have been satellites in orbit using microwave sensors to measure soil moisture,” Holtzman said. “We aim to harness this data stream to track vegetation moisture, too.”
The research ultimately aims to help scientists understand how transpiration and runoff may change in different parts of the world over the next century – a crucial element for unraveling future climate change impacts. The work will also produce a new way to monitor ecosystem-scale drought stress in real time.
“I’m interested in remote sensing because it provides the perspective that we need to understand global problems like climate change and land cover change,” Holtzman said.