The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network

23 October 2014

Gary Geller

Deputy Manager, Applied Sciences Ecological Forecasting Program, NASA

Thursday, October 23, 2014

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Marine Science Research Building Auditorium

Reception to follow, MSI 2nd floor balcony


The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is building a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) with nine "Societal Benefit Area” (SBA) elements. The Biodiversity area is facilitating development of a Biodiversity Observation Network, called GEO BON, focused on detecting and monitoring change to support policy makers, decision makers, and others. Its scope is broad, encompassing ecosystems, species, genes, and ecosystem services, and marine, freshwater, and terrestrial realms. Essential Biodiversity Variables are the key variables needed to understand what is changing and why, and overseeing their development is a core activity of GEO BON. Related activities, just getting underway, include developing a “BON in a Box”, a toolkit to make it easier for governments and other organizations to improve their biodiversity observation systems, and thematic BONs such as a field site network, a wetland observing system, and a marine BON. These activities and some of the associated challenges will be discussed.


Gary has a M.S. in Botany from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D in Biology from University of California, Los Angeles, where he focused on botany and ecology. He is now at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where early on he developed software and was the system engineer for the ASTER instrument. During a 16 month Leave of Absence he began, largely by accident, working with biodiversity conservation managers in Southeast Asia and elsewhere to understand why they did not use more satellite data. This led to the TerraLook project to make time-series images easily available at no cost, now operational at the USGS. He returned to JPL in 2003 and is now Deputy Manager of the NASA Applied Sciences Ecological Forecasting Program, focusing on end-end continuity and accessibility to NASA observations, research results, models, and model outputs. Gary is co-lead of the Group on Observations (GEO) Model Web Task, a concept that promotes making models available as web services so that the models and their outputs are more readily accessed and shared. He is on the steering committee of the GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), a global effort to make biodiversity observation systems interoperable and develop the related Community of Practice. He is also a member of the ASTER Science Team and co-lead of the ASTER Ecosystems Working Group (ASTER acquires satellite images of Earth).