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Sean P. Healey

Research Ecologist

507 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401
Contact Sean P. Healey

Current Research

I am leading a team to develop a forest carbon management support tool called ForCaMF (Forest Carbon Management Framework). This system depends upon inventory (FIA) data, satellite imagery, timber output records, and the Forest Vegetation Simulator, all of which are available consistently over time throughout the conterminous US.

Research Interests

  1. Assessment of the role of disturbance and management on carbon storage at management-relevant scales.
  2. Combination of remote sensing, especially Landsat time series, with inventory data to create meaningful spatial data products.
  3. International monitoring issues.

Past Research

Forests partially mitigate human greenhouse gas emissions as trees sequester carbon through photosynthesis. Our work is a tangible step toward allowing forest managers to consider carbon storage as one of a number of resources that can be managed for. Documentation of forest management's carbon benefits in the context of natural disturbance regimes will be important in any carbon market as well as demonstrating global benefits derived from public forests.

Why This Research is Important

  1. Disturbance mapping in many parts of the country using Landsat time series.
  2. Effect of disturbance upon older forests at the regional level (PNW).
  3. Mapping forest conditions over time.


  • New College of Florida, B.A., Biology, 1992
  • Columbia, M.A., Science Education, 1998
  • University of Washington, Ph.D., Silviculture and Forest Protection, 2002
  • Featured Publications


    Cohen, Warren B.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Healey, Sean P.; Kennedy, Robert E.; Gorelick, Noel, 2018. A LandTrendr multispectral ensemble for forest disturbance detection
    Zhao, Feng; Healey, Sean P.; Huang, Chengquan; McCarter, James B.; Garrard, Chris; Goeking, Sara A.; Zhu, Zhiliang, 2018. Assessing the effects of fire disturbance and timber management on carbon storage in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
    Kennedy, Robert E.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Gorelick, Noel; Braaten, Justin; Cavalcante, Lucas; Cohen, Warren B.; Healey, Sean P., 2018. Implementation of the LandTrendr algorithm on Google Earth Engine
    Hernandez, Alexander J.; Healey, Sean P.; Huang, Hongsheng; Ramsey, R. Douglas, 2018. Improved prediction of stream flow based on updating land cover maps with remotely sensed forest change detection
    Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Brewer, C. Kenneth; Brooks, Evan B.; Gorelick, Noel; Hernandez, Alexander J.; Huang, Chengquan; Hughes, M. Joseph; Kennedy, Robert E.; Loveland, Thomas R.; Moisen, Gretchen; Schroeder, Todd A.; Stehman, Stephen V; Vogelmann, James E.; Woodcock, Curtis E.; Yang, Limin; Zhu, Zhe, 2018. Mapping forest change using stacked generalization: An ensemble approach
    Dugan, Alexa J.; Birdsey, Richard; Healey, Sean P.; Pan, Yude; Zhang, Fangmin; Mo, Gang; Chen, Jing; Woodall, Christopher W.; Hernandez, Alexander J.; McCullough, Kevin; McCarter, James B.; Raymond, Crystal L.; Dante-Wood, Karen., 2017. Forest sector carbon analyses support land management planning and projects: Assessing the influence of anthropogenic and natural factors
    Cohen, Warren B.; Healey, Sean P.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Stehman, Stephen V.; Brewer, C. Kenneth; Brooks, Evan B.; Gorelick, Noel; Huang, Chengqaun; Hughes, M. Joseph; Kennedy, Robert E.; Loveland, Thomas R.; Moisen, Gretchen; Schroeder, Todd A.; Vogelmann, James E.; Woodcock, Curtis E.; Yang, Limin; Zhu, Zhe, 2017. How similar are forest disturbance maps derived from different Landsat time series algorithms?
    Healey, Sean P.; Raymond, Crystal L.; Lockman, I. Blakey; Hernandez, Alexander J.; Garrard, Chris; Huang, Chengquan, 2016. Root disease can rival fire and harvest in reducing forest carbon storage
    Stahl, Goran; Saarela, Svetlana; Schnell, Sebastian; Holm, Soren; Breidenbach, Johannes; Healey, Sean P.; Patterson, Paul L.; Magnussen, Steen; Naesset, Erik; McRoberts, Ronald E.; Gregoire, Timothy G., 2016. Use of models in large-area forest surveys: comparing model-assisted, model-based and hybrid estimation
    Gregory, Matthew J.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Bell, David M.; Cohen, Warren B.; Healey, Sean P.; Ohmann, Janet L.; Roberts, Heather M., 2015. Cloud-based computation for accelerating vegetation mapping and change detection at regional to national scales
    Cohen, Warren B.; Andersen, Hans-Erik; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen; Schroeder, Todd A.; Woodall, Christopher W.; Domke, Grant M.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Kennedy, Robert E.; Stehman, Stephen V.; Woodcock, Curtis; Vogelmann, Jim; Zhu, Zhe; Huang, Chengquan., 2015. Integrating field plots, lidar, and landsat time series to provide temporally consistent annual estimates of biomass from 1990 to present
    Hernandez, Alexander; Healey, Sean P.; Huang, Chenquan; Ramsey, R. Douglas, 2015. Mapping timing, extent, type and magnitude of disturbances across the national forest system, 1990–2011
    Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B.; Zhiqiang, Yang; Brewer, Ken; Brooks, Evan; Gorelick, Noel; Gregory, Mathew; Hernandez, Alexander; Huang, Chengquan; Hughes, Joseph; Kennedy, Robert; Loveland, Thomas; Megown, Kevin; Moisen, Gretchen; Schroeder, Todd; Schwind, Brian; Stehman, Stephen; Steinwand, Daniel; Vogelmann, James; Woodcock, Curtis; Yang, Limin; Zhu, Zhe., 2015. Next-generation forest change mapping across the United States: the landscape change monitoring system (LCMS)
    Zeng, WeiSheng; Tomppo, Erkki; Healey, Sean P.; Gadow, Klaus V., 2015. The national forest inventory in China: History, results, international context
    Masek, Jeffrey G.; Hayes, Daniel J.; Hughes, M. Joseph; Healey, Sean P.; Turner, David P., 2015. The role of remote sensing in process‐scaling studies of managed forest ecosystems
    Dugan, Alexa J.; Birdsey, Richard A.; Healey, Sean P.; Woodall, Christopher; Zhang, Fangmin; Chen, Jing M.; Hernandez, Alexander; McCarter, James B., 2015. Utilizing Forest Inventory and Analysis Data, Remote Sensing, and Ecosystem Models for National Forest System Carbon Assessments
    Healey, Sean P.; Urbanski, Shawn P.; Patterson, Paul L.; Garrard, Chris, 2014. A framework for simulating map error in ecosystem models
    Cohen, W.; Andersen, H.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen; Schroeder, T.; Woodall, C.; Domke, G.; Yang, Z.; Stehman, S.; Kennedy, R.; Woodcock, C.; Zhu, Z.; Vogelmann, J.; Steinwand, D.; Huang, C., 2014. An historically consistent and broadly applicable MRV system based on LiDAR sampling and Landsat time-series
    Kennedy, Robert E.; Andrefouet, Serge; Cohen, Warren B.; Gomez, Cristina; Griffiths, Patrick; Hais, Martin; Healey, Sean P.; Helmer, Eileen H.; Hostert, Patrick; Lyons, Mitchell B.; Meigs, Garrett W.; Pflugmacher, Dirk; Phinn, Stuart R.; Powell, Scott L.; Scarth, Peter; Sen, Susmita; Schroeder, Todd A.; Schneider, Annemarie; Sonnenschein, Ruth; Vogelmann, James E.; Wulder, Michael A.; Zhu, Zhe, 2014. Bringing an ecological view of change to Landsat-based remote sensing
    Schroeder, Todd A.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen; Frescino, Tracey; Cohen, Warren B.; Huang, Chengquan; Kennedy, Robert E.; Yang, Zhiqiang, 2014. Improving estimates of forest disturbance by combining observations from Landsat time series with U.S
    Schroeder, Todd A.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen; Frescino, Tracey; Cohen, Warren B.; Huang, Chengquan; Kennedy, Robert E.; Yang, Zhiqiang, 2014. Improving estimates of forest disturbance by combining observations from Landsat time series with U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data
    Healey, Sean P.; Lindquist, E., 2014. Preliminary results of the global forest biomass survey
    Moisen, Gretchen; Brewer, K.; Czaplewski, R.; Healey, Sean P.; Megown, K.; Finco, M., 2014. The role of remote sensing in U.S. forest inventories: Past, present and future
    Powell, Scott L.; Cohen, Warren B.; Kennedy, Robert E.; Healey, Sean P.; Huang, Chengquan, 2013. Observation of trends in biomass loss as a result of disturbance in the conterminous U.S.: 1986-2004
    Anderson, Nathaniel (Nate); Young, Jesse; Stockmann, K.; Skog, K.; Healey, Sean P.; Loeffler, D.; Jones, J.G.; Morrison, J., 2013. Regional and forest-level estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from the United States Forest Service Northern Region, 1906-2010
    Healey, Sean P.; Patterson, Paul L.; Saatchi, Sassan S.; Lefsky, Michael A.; Lister, Andrew J.; Freeman, Elizabeth, 2012. A sample design for globally consistent biomass estimation using lidar data from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS)
    Schroeder, Todd A.; Moisen, Gretchen; Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B., 2012. Adding value to the FIA inventory: combining FIA data and satellite observations to estimate forest disturbance
    Healey, Sean P.; Patterson, Paul L.; Saatchi, Sassan; Lefsky, Michael A.; Lister, Andrew J.; Freeman, Elizabeth; Moisen, Gretchen, 2012. Applying inventory methods to estimate aboveground biomass from satellite light detection and ranging (LiDAR) forest height data
    Schroeder, Todd A.; Wulder, Michael A.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen, 2012. Detecting post-fire salvage logging with Landsat change maps and national fire survey data
    Stockmann, Keith D.; Anderson, Nathaniel (Nate); Skog, Kenneth E.; Healey, Sean P.; Loeffler, Dan; Jones, Greg; Morrison, James F., 2012. Estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products from the United States Forest Service Northern Region, 1906-2010
    Schroeder, Todd A.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen, 2012. Evaluating the compatibility of American and Mexican national forest inventory data
    Stueve, Kirk M.; Housman, Ian W.; Zimmerman, Patrick L.; Nelson, Mark D.; Webb, Jeremy; Perry, Charles H.; Chastain, Robert A.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Huang, Chengquan; Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B., 2012. Improving automated disturbance maps using snow-covered landsat time series stacks
    Masek, Jeffrey G.; Healey, Sean P., 2012. Monitoring U.S. forest dynamics with Landsat [Chapter 12]
    Woodall, Christopher W.; Smith, James E.; Domke, Grant M.; Healey, Sean P.; Coulston, John W.; Gray, Andrew N., 2012. Technical aspects of the forest carbon inventory of the United States: recent past and near future
    Nelson, Mark D.; Healey, Sean P.; Moser, W. Keith; Masek, J.G.; Cohen, Warren, 2011. Consistency of forest presence and biomass predictions modeled across overlapping spatial and temporal extents
    Schroeder, Todd; Wulder, Michael A.; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen, 2011. Mapping wildfire and clearcut harvest disturbances in boreal forests with Landsat time series data
    Masek, Jeffrey G.; Cohen, Warren B.; Leckie, Donald; Wulder, Michael A.; Vargas, Rodrigo; de Jong, Ben; Healey, Sean P.; Law, Beverly; Birdsey, Richard; Houghton, R. A.; Mildrexler, David; Goward, Samuel; Smith, W. Brad., 2011. Recent rates of forest harvest and conversion in North America
    Stueve, Kirk M.; Housman, Ian W.; Zimmerman, Patrick L.; Nelson, Mark D.; Webb, Jeremy B.; Perry, Charles H.; Chastain, Robert A.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Huang, Chengquan; Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B., 2011. Snow-covered Landsat time series stacks improve automated disturbance mapping accuracy in forested landscapes
    Nelson, Mark; Healey, Sean P.; Moser, W. Keith; Hansen, Mark; Cohen, Warren; Hatfield, Mark; Thomas, Nancy; Masek, Jeff, 2009. Analyzing Landsat time-series data across adjacent path/rows and across multiple cycles of FIA: Lessons learned in southern Missouri
    Healey, Sean P.; Blackard, Jock A.; Morgan, Todd A.; Loeffler, Dan; Jones, Greg; Songster, Jon; Brandt, Jason P.; Moisen, Gretchen; DeBlander, Larry T., 2009. Changes in timber haul emissions in the context of shifting forest management and infrastructure
    Healey, Sean P.; Morgan, Todd; Songster, Jon; Brandt, Jason., 2009. Determining landscape-level carbon emissions from historically harvested forest products
    Loeffler, Dan; Jones, Greg; Vonessen, Nikolaus; Healey, Sean P.; Chung, Woodam, 2009. Estimating diesel fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from forest road construction
    Moser, W. Keith; Nelson, Mark D.; Hansen, Mark H.; Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren, 2009. Trends in afforestation in southern Missouri
    Uribe, Alberto Sandoval; Healey, Sean P.; Moisen, Gretchen; Rivas, Rigoberto Palafox; Aguilar, Enrique Gonzalez; Tovar, Carmen Lourdes Meneses; Davalos, Ernesto S. Diaz Ponce; Mascorro, Vanessa Silva, 2008. Mexican forest inventory expands continental carbon monitoring
    Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B.; Spies, Thomas A.; Moeur, Melinda; Pflungmacher, Dirk; Whitley, M. German; Lefsky, Michael, 2008. The relative impact of harvest and fire upon landscape-level dynamics of older forests: Lessons from the Northwest Forest Plan
    Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren; Spies, Thomas A.; Moeur, Melinda; Pflugmacher, Dirk; Whitley, M. German; Lefsky, Michael., 2008. The relative impact of harvest and fire upon landscape-level dynamics of older forests: lessons from the Northwest Forest Plan
    Cohen, Warren B.; Healey, Sean P.; Goward, Samuel; Moisen, Gretchen; Masek, Jeffrey G.; Kennedy, Robert E.; Powell, Scott L.; Huang, Chengquan; Thomas, Nancy; Schleeweis, Karen; Wulder, Michael A., 2007. Use of Landsat-based monitoring of forest change to sample and assess the role of disturbance and regrowth in the carbon cycle at continental scales
    Healey, Sean P.; Yang, Zhiqiang; Cohen, Warren B.; Pierce, D. John, 2006. Application of two regression-based methods to estimate the effects harvest on forest structure using Landsat data
    Healey, Sean P.; Cohen, Warren B.; Zhiqiang, Yang; Krankina, Olga N., 2005. Comparison of Tasseled Cap-based Landsat data structures for use in forest disturbance detection.
    Moeur, Melinda; Spies, Thomas A.; Hemstrom, Miles; Martin, Jon R.; Alegria, James; Browning, Julie; Cissel, John; Cohen, Warren B.; Demeo, Thomas E.; Healey, Sean P.; Warbington, Ralph, 2005. Northwest Forest Plan—the first 10 years (1994-2003): status and trend of late-successional and old-growth forest.
    Armillaria mellea is a parasitic fungus that frequently causes root disease in forests of the US.  Image uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Mars 2002 under a Creative Commons License
    Growing forests take greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. National forests must account for how natural and management-oriented disturbance processes affect carbon storage as an ecosystem benefit.  Although it doesn’t always cause large, eye-catching areas of mortality, root disease likely affects carbon storage by reducing tree growth and regeneration over vast areas.  However, no previously available tools allowed monitoring of the effect of root disease on carbon storage at a landscape level.
    China has significant and growing forest resources, but those resources have been a mystery to most of the world until recently. RMRS work with the Chinese National Forest Inventory has helped to document methods and conclusions of China’s efforts to understand its own forests.
    Storage of atmospheric carbon is an important ecosystem service of healthy forests and woodlands because it mitigates the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. International reporting of this service places a premium on the specificity and precision of monitoring data used to estimate carbon storage or emission. An inventory of land cover change is a critical component of most national-level accounting systems, and the Landsat series of satellites is a uniquely positioned to provide this land cover change “activity data.” In Eastern Africa, there are already high-quality Landsat-based cover maps for 2 or 3 points in time. However, these maps do not provide the annual land cover change information needed for higher-tier IPCC reporting, and land cover changes inferred from independent maps at different dates cannot easily be assigned a level of uncertainty.
    Deforestation in Haiti is well documented, with an estimated original forest cover remaining of approximately 1%. This widespread deforestation is primarily a result of hundreds of years of spreading subsistence agriculture and cutting for cooking fuel. Most of the remnant stands of original forest cover in Haiti are highly fragmented, with the last remnants primarily found in Massif de la Hotte mountain range of the southwest. This area has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).
    A historically consistent and broadly applicable monitoring, reporting, and verification system based on lidar sampling and Landsat time-series (tested in the US, and applied to the US NGHGI reporting system).
    The Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS) is an emerging remote sensing-based system for mapping and monitoring land cover and land use change across the US. Envisioned as a framework for integrating Landsat-based products and other datasets, LCMS  is producing spatially, temporally, and thematically comprehensive data and information from which landscape change can be consistently assessed, documented, and analyzed at the national scale. 
    Forest management and natural disturbance can have a significant impact on storage or emission of greenhouse gases. Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station designed the Forest Carbon Management Framework (ForCaMF) to model how harvested and burned stands contribute to overall carbon storage over different time scales. ForCaMF was used to conduct analyses across all 76 million ha of National Forest System land by Forest Service Region. Through informed forest management, additional forest carbon storage is achievable.
    Researchers provided estimates of the carbon stored in harvested wood products for all Forest Service Regions using carbon accounting methods developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 2010 California Forest Project Protocol, and the Forest Carbon Management Framework (ForCaMF).
    On July 30, NASA selected the Global Ecosystems Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) LiDAR mission for funding under its Earth Venture Instrument-2 program. A full-waveform LiDAR instrument will be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and will provide unprecedented detail about the structure of the world’s forests.

    National Strategic Program Areas: 
    Inventory and Monitoring
    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Inventory and Monitoring