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Wildfire Impacts on Watershed Transport of Carbon to Coasts (KelpFire)


Funded by NASA to advance understanding and ability to forecast the effects of wildfires on California’s coastal resources and train the next generation of diverse NASA innovators. This work is funded as a collaboration between NASA’s Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry (OCEAN)  and NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

RESEARCH: KelpFire assesses the effects of wildfire-driven disturbances of carbon and sediment on kelp forests in the California Current System by coupling remote sensing and in situ observations with process-based watershed export models. This multi-disciplinary research will focus on several wildfire impacted watersheds along the California coast.

The anticipated outcomes of this research are:

  • Improved understanding of the effect of wildfires on carbon transport from coastal watersheds
  • Information on spatial and temporal patterns of kelp forest change related to sediment & carbon flux
  • New tools to support modelling of carbon flux through coastal aquatic zone and global carbon cycling

EDUCATION: The KelpFire is developing a diverse future NASA workforce by embedding undergraduate students into our research through research fellowships, strong mentoring in NASA-unique research activities, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) internships. Students in our program are

  • Contributing to NASA's science mission
  • Engaging with NASA's content, people, and facilities
  • Gaining an increased sense of belonging and self-efficacy
  • Increasing their interest in a research career



Erin Hestir (UC Merced), Thomas Harmon (UC Merced), Dulcinea Avouris (UC Merced)

Christine Lee (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Tom Bell (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)

Kyle Cavanaugh (UCLA)