Research Staff

Scott Goetz, Ph.D.

Deputy Director and Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Research Center
149 Woods Hole Road
Falmouth, MA 02540-1644

Dr. Goetz’s research focuses on ecosystem responses to environmental change, including monitoring and modeling the linkages and feedbacks between forests and climate, land use change and disturbance. Much of this research makes use of satellite imagery. Before joining the Woods Hole Research Center in 2003, where he is now a senior scientist and deputy director, he was a member of the research faculty at the University of Maryland, where he maintains an adjunct faculty appointment. He also worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for 10 years and has authored, to date, more than 140 refereed journal publications and book chapters, and edited 4 special issue compilations. He has served on numerous professional panels, including for the US National Academy of Sciences, and is a member of the Science Steering Group of the North America Carbon Program and the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment. He is an Associate Editor of Remote Sensing of Environment and is on the editorial board of Environmental Research Letters. He is a past editorial board member of the Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University (BS), the University of California (MS), and the University of Maryland (PhD).


Ph.D. - University of Maryland 1996, Department of Geography
Dissertation: Modeling carbon fluxes, net primary production and light utilization of boreal forest stands

M.Sc. - University of California, Santa Barbara 1987, Department of Geography
Thesis: Predictive mapping of coast live oak in California using digital satellite and terrain data

B.Sc. - Pennsylvania State University 1982, Department of Geography
Remote sensing & digital mapping emphasis

Professional Experience

  • July 2011 - present: Deputy Director, Woods Hole Research Center
  • February 2003 - present: Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center
  • February 2003 - present: Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  • August 1995 - January 2003: Associate Scientist, University of Maryland, Department of Geography
  • August 1985 - August 1995: Research Scientist, Hughes/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Research Interests

Analysis of environmental change, including monitoring and modeling links between land use change of various types (e.g., urbanization, fire disturbance), forest productivity, biological diversity, water quality, and epidemiology.

Selected publications (of 140+ in print)

Hansen, M. C., Potapov, P. V, Moore, R., Hancher, M., Turubanova, S. A., Tyukavina, A., Thau, D., Stehman, S.V., Goetz, S.J., Loveland, T.R., Kommareddy, A., Egorov, A., Chini, L., Justice, C.O. and Townshend, J. R. G. (2013). High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change. Science, 342(6160), 850–853. 

Jantz, P., Goetz, S. J., & Laporte, N. (2014) Tropical carbon corridors: mapping climate change mitigation and biodiversity co-benefits. Nature Climate Change. 4:138-142. doi.10.1038/nclimate2105

National Research Council (2014)  Co-author. Opportunities to Use Remote Sensing in Understanding Permafrost and Related Ecological Characteristics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Scholes & Settele et al. (2014)  Contributing author. IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Working Group 2, Chapter 4. Terrestrial and Inland Water Systems.

Pearson, R.G., Phillips, S.J., Loranty, M.M., Beck, P.S.A., Damoulas, T., Knight, S.J., & Goetz, S.J. (2013). Shifts in Arctic vegetation and associated feedbacks under climate change. Nature Climate Change, 3, 673-677.

Zolkos, S., Goetz, S.J., & Dubayah , R.O. (2013). A meta-analysis of terrestrial above-ground biomass estimation using lidar remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment, 128, 289-298.

Baccini, A., Goetz, S.J., Walker, W.S., Laporte, N.T., Sun, M., Sulla-Menashe, D., Hackler, J., Beck, P.S.A., Dubayah, R., Friedl, M.A., Samanta, S., & Houghton, R.A. (2012). Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon-density maps. Nature Climate Change, 2, 182-185.

Xu, L., R.B. Myneni, F.S. Chapin III, T.V. Callaghan, J.E. Pinzon, C.J. Tucker, Z. Zhu, J. Bi, P. Ciais, H. Tømmervik, E. S. Euskirchen, B.C. Forbes, S.L. Piao, B.T. Anderson, S. Ganguly, R.R. Nemani, S.J. Goetz, P.S.A. Beck, A.G. Bunn, C. Cao, and J.C. Stroeve. 2013. Temperature and vegetation seasonality diminishment over northern lands. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1836

Goetz, S.J., Bond-Lamberty, B., Law, B., Hicke, J., Huang, C., Houghton, R.A., McNulty, S., O’Halloran, T., Harmon, M.E., Meddens, A.J.H., Pfeifer, E.M., Mildrexler, D., & Kasischke, E. (2012). Observations and assessment of forest carbon recovery following disturbance in North America. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 117, doi:10.1029/2011JG001733

Goetz, S.J., Kimball, J.S., Mack, M., & Kasischke, E. (2011). Scoping study for an arctic boreal vulnerability experiment. AGU Eos Transactions 92, 150-151, doi:10.1029/2011EO180002.

Goetz, S. J., H. E. Epstein, D. Alcaraz, P. S. A. Beck, U. Bhatt, A. Bunn, J. Comiso, G. J. Jia, J. O. Kaplan, H. Lischke, A. Lloyd, Q. Yu, and D. A. Walker (2010). Recent changes in Arctic vegetation: satellite observations and simulation model predictions, in G. Gutman (ed.) Arctic land cover and land use in a changing climate. Springer-Verlag, Amsterdam.

Houghton, R. A., Hall, F. G. & Goetz, S. J. (2009) The importance of biomass in the global carbon cycle. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, 114, G00E03, doi:10.1029/2009JG000935.

Goetz, S.J., Mack, M., Gurney, K., Randerson, J., & Houghton, R.A. (2007). Ecosystem responses to recent climate change and fire disturbance at northern high latitudes: Observations and model results contrasting northern Eurasia and North America. Environmental Research Letters 045031.


Goetz, S. J., Sun, M., Zolkos, S., Hansen, A., & Dubayah, R. (2014). The relative importance of climate and vegetation properties on patterns of North American breeding bird species richness. Environmental Research Letters, 9(3), 034013. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/3/034013

Swatantran, A., Dubayah, R., Goetz, S., Hofton, M., Betts, M.G., Sun, M., Simard, M., & Holmes, R. (2012). Mapping migratory bird prevalence using remote sensing data fusion. PLoS ONE, 7, e28922

Hansen, A.J., C. Davis, N. Piekielek, J. Gross, D. Theobald, S. Goetz, F. Melton, R. DeFries (2011). Delineating the ecosystems containing protected areas for monitoring and management. BioScience, 61, 363-373

Goetz, S. J., Steinberg, D., Betts, M., Holmes, R., Doran, P., Dubayah, R. & Hofton, M. (2010) Lidar remote sensing variables predict breeding habitat of a Neotropical migrant bird. Ecology, 91:1569-1576.

Bergen, K., Goetz, S., Dubayah, R., Henebry, G., Imhoff, M., Nelson, R., Parker, G. & Radeloff, V. (2009) Measurements of vegetation 3D structure for biodiversity and habitat: review and implications for spaceborne remote sensing missions Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, G00E06 doi:10.1029/2008JG000883.

Goetz, S.J., Jantz, P. & Jantz, C.J. (2009), Connectivity of core habitat in the northeastern United States: parks and protected areas in a landscape context. Remote Sensing of Environment 113:1421-1429

Goetz, S. J., D. Steinberg, R. Dubayah, and J. B. Blair (2007), Lidar remote sensing of canopy habitat heterogeneity as a predictor of bird species richness in an eastern temperate forest, USA. Remote Sensing of Environment 108(3):254-263.

Land use change and water quality:

Goetz, S.J., & Fiske, G. (2013). On the relationship between stream biotic diversity and exurbanization in the Northeastern USA. In L. Patrick (Ed.), GIS and Geospatial Techniques as Applied to Urban Water Issues (pp. 61-78): Springer Press

Goetz, S. J., Sun, M. & Jantz, C. A. (2011) Changes in the hydrology of the Upper Delaware watershed with increasing urbanization. Watershed Science Bulletin, Fall 2011, 18-26.

Jantz, C. A., Goetz, S. J., Donato, D. & Claggett, P. (2010) Designing and implementing a regional urban modeling system using the SLEUTH cellular urban model. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 34, 1-16.

Theobald, D.M., Goetz, S.J., Norman, J., & Jantz, P. (2009), Watersheds at risk to increased impervious surface cover in the coterminous United States. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 14:362-368

Goetz, S.J., Gardiner, T., & Viers, J. (2008) Recent advances in monitoring freshwater and estuarine ecosystems with remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment 112:3993-3995

Goetz, S. J., and G. Fiske (2008), Linking the diversity and abundance of stream biota to landscapes in the mid-Atlantic USA. Remote Sensing of Environment 112:4075-4085

Goetz S. J. (2006), Remote sensing of riparian buffers: past progress and future prospects. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 42(1): 133-143.

Goetz, S. J., & P. Jantz (2006). Satellite maps show Chesapeake Bay urban development. Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 87:149-152.

Remote sensing science:

Goetz, S. J. & Dubayah, R. O. (2011) Advances in remote sensing technology and implications for monitoring, reporting and verifying forest carbon stocks and emissions. Carbon Management 2, 231-244 , DOI 10.4155/cmt.11.18.

Goetz, S. J., Sun, M., Baccini, A. & Beck, P. S. A. (2010) Synergistic use of space-borne LiDAR and optical imagery for assessing forest disturbance: an Alaska case study. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences, 115, G00E07, doi:10.1029/2008JG000898.

Goetz, S.J., Baccini, A., Laporte, N., Johns, T., Walker, W.S., Kellndorfer, J.M., Houghton, R.A., & Sun, M. (2009). Mapping & monitoring carbon stocks with satellite observations:a comparison of methods. Carbon Balance and Management, 4:2 doi:10.1186/1750-0680-1184-1182, Open access journal:

Steinberg, D. C. & Goetz, S. J. (2009) Assessment of canopy light harvesting in temperate forests of the eastern U.S. using MODIS data products. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 30, 169-187.

Tatem, A.J., Goetz, S.J., & Hay, S.I. (2008). Fifty years of earth observation satellites. American Scientist 96:390-398.

Achievements and Awards

  • Fulbright Research Scholar, 2010, Toulouse France. Center for the Study of the Biosphere from Space.
  • Associate Editor, 2005-present. Remote Sensing of Environment
  • Editorial Board, 2011-present. Environmental Research Letters
  • Editorial Board, 2007-2010. Journal of Geophysical Research
  • O.E. Baker Award, 1996. Doctoral Dissertation
  • NASA Team Award, 1995. Boreal Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (BOREAS).
  • NASA Team Award, 1989. First International Land Surface Climatology Project (FIFE)