Understanding Global Change Science:

Conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on patterns and processes of global change, and on consequences and adaptation to global change for human populations living in landscapes.

Who We Are

CGCEO is a group of MSU scientists from multiple fields who conduct collaborative research, at multiple scales, that relies on geospatial technologies, earth observation, data analytics, modeling, on-the-ground field research, coupled human and natural system interactions, and socioeconomic and policy analyses. Through research, training of students and early-career scientists, and outreach to stakeholders, we seek to equip society with the technical tools and the physical, socioeconomic, and ecological knowledge to maintain sustainable ecosystems and societies. The work of CGCEO is facilitated by our shared space and staff resources, and regular interactions through meetings, seminars, and collaborative research, and educational activities.

Our Vision

To be leaders in the development and application of geospatial technologies to interdisciplinary research, training, and outreach that improves the management of landscapes, environments, and climate and, in turn, human and societal well-being in the face of global change. This vision will be achieved by conducting collaborative research and early career mentoring and graduate-level teaching to train the next generations of global change scientists. 

Our Mission

Our mission is to characterize ongoing changes in climate and land, understand the forces leading to change and its impacts, and provide solutions to problems to improve human and societal well-being. CGCEO generates knowledge to build scientific understanding and inform policy decisions related to the consequences of ongoing global change and trains the next generations of global change scientists.

Our Research

Our researchers investigate these focus areas through a variety of collaborations.

Agricultural and Range Land Use Challenges

Several center researchers employ an interdisciplinary, bio-social science lens to issues of agricultural and rangelands, exploring issues of land use and land use change, nature-based solutions to food security, and bird biodiversity in agricultural systems.  Center activities focusing on this theme are underway in: West, East, and Southern Africa; Southeast, East, and North Asia; Central and South America; and the continental United States. 

Biodiversity in Managed Ecosystems

Biodiversity research at the Center focuses on increased understanding of avian species and their interactions with agricultural ecosystems, primarily fruit orchards in the North Central United States; and restored tropical forest ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Climate Change Science

This final area of Center faculty research focuses on understanding land surface processes and their impacts on atmospheric dynamics. Their approach employs interdisciplinary techniques for incorporating and refining socioeconomic data in an atmospheric model to better understand socioeconomic impacts on landcover and rainfall in East Africa and the Amazon Basin.

Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Another group of CGCEO researchers focuses on human-environment interactions research, land use and land cover, and on the impacts of large-scale infrastructure projects on society and the environment.  Their work is highly interdisciplinary, linking biophysical and social sciences and making frequent use of satellite remote sensing, GIS, and other geospatial technologies together with survey research and ethnographic methods.  Research activities in this area are carried out primarily in North Asia and the United States. 

Geospatial and Modeling Tools and Applications

Another group of researchers employ remote sensing and geospatial technologies to study environmental patterns and processes, including quantitative analysis and modeling of land surface phenology and land cover land use change.  Emphasis to date has been on grasslands and croplands, drylands and wetlands, and urbanizing areas of Central Asia (particularly Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) and the US Great Plains. New and emerging projects extend to Tajikistan in Central Asia as well as the urbanizing landscape around Lake Michigan and across Lower Michigan. 

Human Dimensions of Global Change

Another collaborative of CGCEO researchers focuses on the human dimensions of land use and land cover change, hydropower, macrosystems biology, environmental social science, remote sensing, and GIS approaches to these topics.  Researchers currently carry out most of this work in South America.

Innovative Methods and Techniques in Global Data Visualization and Analysis

This team of interdisciplinary researchers collaborates on the development of remote sensing and advanced computing methods to integrate/fuse satellite sensor data to map and characterize terrestrial global change, process big satellite data, determine the causes and consequences of land cover and land use change, and track large fires in multiple world regions. 

Urban Systems Dynamics

An additional collection of CGCEO faculty conduct research designed to increase understanding of the urban environment and sustainability amidst the rapid expansion of urban and periurban lands and corresponding conversion of agricultural lands.  Informed by attention to public health, innovation and economic development, planning and policy, this work takes place in Southeast, East, and North Asia.

Labs and Working Groups

Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Science Lab (LEES Lab) | Jiquan Chen

Urban Sustainability Lab | Peilei Fan

Collaboratory for Synoptic Environmental and Geospatial Sciences | Geoffrey Henebry

Biodiversity Lab | Catherine Lindell

Land-Atmosphere Interactions Lab | Nathan Moore

Human Dimension Lab | Emilio Moran

Remote Sensing Lab | Jiaguo Qi

MSU Roy Lab | David Roy

Agroecology Lab | Sieg Snapp