lynn fenstermaker

Dr. Lynn F. Fenstermaker

Research Professor Biology
remote sensing, climate change, evapotranspiration, physiological ecology, ecosystem monitoring and assessment, UAS, unmanned aircraft systems

Professional Interests

Dr. Fenstermaker has experience in assessing, mapping, and monitoring the effect of environmental stressors on vegetation at small and large scales using multispectral, hyperspectral and SAR remotely sensed data from ground to satellite based platforms including UAS (unmanned aircraft systems). Recent research has focused on the use of remote sensing to estimate evapotranspiration for riparian and phreatophytic zones, fine scale examination of crop stressors, and wildfire impact on Great Basin and Mojave Desert vegetation. Dr. Fenstermaker has management and supervisory experience as the Director of the NV Space Grant Consortium, NV NASA EPSCoR and two statewide research programs addressing the effects of climate change: Nevada Desert FACE Facility (NDFF) and the Mojave Global Change Facility (MGCF). She is the past Director of the Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN). She has experience as a Co-PI and NV Program Manager for a NSF EPSCOR Track 2 project developing a virtual watershed platform. She is also serving as the Deputy Director of the DRI Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences and DRIs UAS Liaison.

Dr. Fenstermaker serves on two national boards (National Space Grant Foundation and NASA EPSCoR Caucus) and a state board that governs the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems. Additional experience includes the use of remotely sensed data to map land use/land cover, monitor environmental status and trends, and the development of quality assurance/quality control procedures for spatial data. Dr. Fenstermaker has experience in soil characterization and basic soil science from work conducted at the Pennsylvania State University Soil Characterization Laboratory and as a participant with and Assistant Coach of the Penn State Soil Judging Team (1978-1984). Dr. Fenstermaker has taught classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and participated in community and K-12 mentoring programs to inform students about ecological and remote sensing research as well as the rewards of a career in science.

Research Areas of Interest and Expertise

Use of remote sensing, including unmanned platforms,to address plant ecophysiological issues such as plant response to environmental and anthropogenic stress, ecosystem status and trends, and ecosystem response to global climate change.

Recent Projects


Ph.D. 2003 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Biology
M.S. 1986 Pennsylvania State University Agronomy
B.S. 1981 Pennsylvania State University Environmental Resource Management


Publications & Presentations


Apodaca, L., Devitt, D., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2017). Assessing growth response to climate in a Great Basin Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) plant community, Dendrochronologia, 45, 52-61, doi: 10.1016/j.dendro.2017.06.007
Devitt, D. A., Bird, B., Lyles, B. F., Fenstermaker, L.F., Jasoni, R. L., Strachan, S., Arnone, J.A. III, Biondi, F., Mensing, S., Saito, L. (2017). Soil- Plant- Water- Climate Relations Over a 1600 m Mountain Valley Gradient in the Great Basin, NV, Journal of Water
Jiang, P., Medema, J. J., Miller, J. J., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2017). Final Report: NASA/Armstrong Flight Research Center El Nino Playa Inundation Study, DRI 41269
Young, M. H., Fenstermaker, L.F., Belnap, J. (2017). Monitoring water content dynamics of biological soil crusts, Journal of Arid Environments, 142, 41-49, doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2017.03.004


Chen, C., Fenstermaker, L.F., Stephen, H., Ahmad, S. (2015). Distributed Hydrological Modeling for a Snow Dominant Watershed Using a Precipitation and Runoff Modeling System, 2527-2536, doi: 10.1061/9780784479162.248 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2015: Austin, TX, May 17, 2015-May 21, 2015
Fenstermaker, L.F., Obrist, D., Tyler, S., Hausrath, E. M., Ferrell, G., McCubbin, I. B., Moosmüller, H., Murray, A. E., Schumer, R. (2015). Building Capacity in Interdisciplinary Snow Sciences for a Changing World, Invited talk. Nevada NASA EPSCoR and Space Grant Consortium Annual Meeting: Las Vegas, NV, April 30, 2015-May 1, 2015
Mejia, J. F., Fenstermaker, L.F., Etyemezian, V. R., Miller, J. J., Jiang, P., Nikolich, G., Gillies, J. A., Lomeli-Uribe, E. A. (2015). Strategies for climate change adaptation at the Armstrong (formerly Dryden) Flight Research Center and within the Mojave Desert Region, A report to NASA AFRC.
Watts, A. C., Fenstermaker, L.F., McGwire, K. C., Wilcox, E.M., Brown, T. J. (2015). Fire and UAS projects at the Desert Research Institute, Presentation at University of British Columbia: Okanagon, June 18, 2015


Evans, R. D., Koyama, A., Sonderegger, D. L., Charlet, T. N., Newingham, B. A., Fenstermaker, L.F., Harlow, B., Jin, V. L., Ogle, K., Smith, S. D., Nowak, R. S. (2014). Greater Ecosystem Carbon in the Mojave Desert After 10 Years Exposure to Elevated CO2, Nature Climate Change, 4, 394-397, doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2184
Fenstermaker, L.F., McGwire, K. C., Wilcox, E.M., Tilley, J. S., Watts, A. C., Baker, J. L., Huntington, J. L. (2014). UAS environmental research, Invited talk, Nevada Governors Conference on Small Business: Las Vegas, NV, September 19, 2014
Mejia, J. F., Etyemezian, V. R., Fenstermaker, L.F., Miller, J. J., Nikolich, G. (2014). Climate Change Impacts at NASA ARMSTRONG (Dryden) flight research Center, NASA CASI/ROSES 4th Annual Climate Adaptation Workshop: Palmdale, CA, January 23, 2014
Mejia, J. F., Fenstermaker, L.F., Etyemezian, V. R., Miller, J. J. (2014). NASA Award Number NNX12AF57G: Strategies for climate change adaptation at the Dryden Flight Research Center and within the Mojave Desert region (Project report Year 3)
Shillito, R. M., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2014). Soil Stabilization Methods with Potential for Application at the Nevada National Security Site: A Literature Review, DOE/NV/0000939-17; DRI 45255
Tilley, J. S., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2014). UAV Research and Development at DRI, Invited talk, Northern NV Regional UAS Economic Development Meeting: Reno, NV, February 28, 2014


Fenstermaker, L.F., Cablk, M. E., Chapman, J., Green, M. C., de Soyza, A. (2013). Recommended Core and Supplemental Environmental Monitoring Methods for Arid Land BP Installations, Prepared for BP International.
Hershey, R. L., Cablk, M. E., LeFebre, K., Fenstermaker, L.F., Decker, D. L. (2013). Water-Chemistry Evolution and Modeling of Radionuclide Sorption and Cation Exchange during Inundation of Frenchman Flat Playa, Desert Research Institute: Reno, NV, DOE/NA0000939-10; DRI Publication No. 45252.
Mejia, J. F., Fenstermaker, L.F., Etyemezian, V. R., Miller, J. J. (2013). Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation at the Dryden Flight Research Center and within the Mojave Desert Region [NASA Award Number NNX12AF57G, Project Report, Year 2]
Mensing, S., Strachan, S., Arnone, J.A. III, Fenstermaker, L.F., Biondi, F., Devitt, D., Johnson, B.G., Bird, B., Fritzinger, E. (2013). A network for observing Great Basin climate change, Eos, 94, (11), 105-106, doi: 10.1002/2013EO110001
Miller, J. J., Etyemezian, V. R., Shillito, R. M., Cablk, M. E., Fenstermaker, L.F., Shafer, D. S. (2013). Monitoring Soil Erosion of a Burn Site in the Central Basin and Range Ecoregion: Final Report on Measurements at the Gleason Fire Site, Nevada, Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, Report No. DOE/NV/0000939-14; Report No. DRI Publication No. 45254.


Devitt, D., Fenstermaker, L.F., Young, M. H., Conrad, B., Bird, B. M., Baghzouz, M. (2011). Evapotranspiration of Mixed Shrub Communities in Phreatophytic Zones of the Great Basin Region of Nevada (USA), Ecohydrology, 4, (6), 807-822, doi: 10.1002/eco.169


Baghzouz, M., Devitt, D. A., Fenstermaker, L.F., Young, M. H. (2010). Monitoring vegetation phenological cycles in two different semi-arid environmental settings using a ground based NDVI system: A potential approach to improve satellite data interpretation, Remote Sensing, 2, 990-1013, doi: 10.3390/rs2040990


Smith, S. D., Charlet, T. N., Fenstermaker, L.F., Newingham, B. A. (2009). Effects of Global Change on Mojave Desert Ecosystems, Eds. Webb, R. H., Fenstermaker, L.F., Heaton, J. S., Hughson, D. L., McDonald, E. V., Miller, D. M., In The Mojave Desert: Ecosystem Processes and Sustainability, 41 p., University of Nevada Press: Reno, NV
Wohlfahrt, G., Haslwanter, A., Hortnagl, L., Jasoni, R. L., Fenstermaker, L.F., Arnone, J.A. III, Hammerle, A. (2009). On the consequences of the energy imbalance for calculating surface conductance to water vapour, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 149, 1556-1559
Young, M. H., Caldwell, T. G., Meadows, D. G., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2009). Variability of soil physical and hydraulic properties at the Mojave Global Change Facility, Nevada: Implications for water budget and evapotranspiration, Journal of Arid Environments, 73, (8), 733-744, doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.01.015.


Wohlfahrt, G., Fenstermaker, L.F., Arnone, J.A. III (2008). Large annual net ecosystem CO2 uptake of a Mojave Desert ecosystem, Global Change Biology, 14, 1475-1487
Young, M. H., Caldwell, T. G., Zhu, J., Fenstermaker, L.F., McDonald, E. V. (2008). Multi-Scale Variability of Soil and Hydraulic Properties and Impacts to Arid Water Balance, 2008 GSA and ASA-CSSA-SSSA Joint Annual Meeting: Houston, Texas
Young, M. H., Caldwell, T. G., Zhu, J., Fenstermaker, L.F., McDonald, E. V. (2008). Multi-Scale Variability of Soil and Hydraulic Properties and Impacts to Arid Water Balance, Am. Soc. Agron. National Meetings: Houston, TX


Caldwell, T. G., Young, M. H., Zhu, J., Fenstermaker, L.F., McDonald, E. V. (2007). Scaling Heterogeneous Soil Hydraulic Properties Using Canopy/Interspace Distributions in a Mojave Desert Ecosystem, AGU 2007 Fall Meeting: San Francisco, California.
Caldwell, T. G., Young, M. H., Zhu, J., Fenstermaker, L.F., McDonald, E. V. (2007). Scaling Heterogeneous Soil Hydraulic Properties Using Canopy/Interspace Distributions in a Mojave Desert Ecosystem
Conrad, B. G., Devitt, D. A., Young, M. H., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2007). Estimating Sensible Heat in the Great Basin, NV using a Large Aperture Scintillometer


Meadows, D. G., Young, M. H., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2006). Impact of Spatial Variability of Soil Properties on Local Water Balance in a Mojave Desert Ecosystem


Devitt, D. A., Morris, R. L., Baghzouz, M., Lockett, M., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2005). Water quality changes in golf course irrigation ponds transitioning to reuse, HortScience, 40, (7), 2151-2156
Devitt, D. A., Morris, R. L., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2005). Foliar Damage, Spectral Reflectance and Tissue Ion Concentrations of Trees Sprinkle Irrigated with Waters of Similar Salinity but Different Chemical Composition, HortScience, 40, (3), 819-826
Devitt, D. A., Morris, R. L., Fenstermaker, L.F., Baghzouz, M., Neuman, D. S. (2005). Foliar Damage and Flower Production of Landscape Plants Sprinkle Irrigated with Reuse Water, HortScience, 40, (6), 1871-1878


Fenstermaker, L.F. (2003). Estimation of Evapotranspiration at Different Scales Using Traditional and Remote Sensing Techniques, University of Nevada Las Vegas: Las Vegas, NV, Ph.D. Dissertation.


Fenstermaker, L.F., Charlet, T. N., Huxman, T. E., Coleman, J. S., Nowak, R. S., Smith, S. D. (2002). Global Climate Change Research in the Nevada Desert, Ed. Charlet, D. A., In Nevada Environmental Issues, 97-106, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company: Dubuque, IA


McGwire, K. C., Minor, T. B., Fenstermaker, L.F. (2000). Hyperspectral Mixture Modeling for Quantifying Sparse Vegetation Cover in Arid Environments, Remote Sensing of Environment, 72, (3), 360-374, doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(99)00112-1
Smith, S. D., Huxman, T. E., Zitzer, S. F., Charlet, T. N., Housman, D. C., Coleman, J. C., Fenstermaker, L.F., Seemann, J. R., Nowak, R. S. (2000). Elevated CO2 increases productivity and invasive species success in an arid ecosystem, Nature, 408, 79-82, doi: 10.1038/35040544


Devitt, D. A., Sala, A., Smith, S. D., Cleverly, J. A., Fenstermaker, L.F., Hammett, R. (1998). Bowen Ratio Estimates of evapotranspiration for Tamarix ramosissima stands on the Virgin River in southern Nevada, Water Resources Research, 34, (9), 2407-2414.


Fenstermaker, L.F., Leskys, A., Devitt, D. A. (1997). Utilization of remotely sensed data to map and evaluate turfgrass stress associated with drought, Journal of Turfgrass Management, 2, (1), 65-81
Hibbard, K. A., Fenstermaker, L.F. (1997). UCAR colloquium on advances in ecosystem-atmosphere interactions, Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 78, 164-165


Lunetta, R. S., Congalton, R. G., Fenstermaker, L.F., Jensen, J. R., McGwire, K. C., Tinney, L. R. (1991). Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System Data Integration: Error Sources and Research Issues, Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 57, (6), 677-687


Fenstermaker, L.F. (1986). Diurnal Reflectance and Emittance Characteristics of a Desert Surface, The Pennsylvania State University: State College, PA, M.A. Thesis.