Pete Kauhanen's picture

Pete Kauhanen

GIS Manager
Environmental Informatics Program
510-746-7370

Pete Kauhanen is an experienced environmental scientist, planner, UAS expert and GIS specialist with over 10 years' experience generating, obtaining, and analyzing GIS data for environmental projects.  He has a background in watershed ecology, green infrastructure planning, habitat mapping, fire management, utilizing indigenous knowledge to achieve conservation goals, as well as large and small scale mitigation and conservation projects and initiatives.  He earned both his MA and BA from Stanford University where his studies focused on ecology, behavioral ecology and using GIS to study environmental anthropology. For his Masters thesis he created a 10 year fire history for a section of the Western Desert of Australia to highlight the effects of the Australian Aboriginal Martu people on local ecology, habitat types, and predictive capabilities for biodiversity.  His findings resulted in changing the prescribed burn policy of Western Australia’s Department for Environmental Conservation and have broad implications for fire management and climate change adaptation. Most recently, Pete has been utilizing UAS (or drones) in order to map and model wetlands and other natural resources in order to address issues such as erosion, wetland health and trash quantification. Pete continues to bring his GIS experience to bear on projects where scientific research intersects policy and management decisions.

Related Projects, News, and Events

EcoAtlas (Project)

California's EcoAtlas provides access to information for effective wetland management. EcoAtlas is a set of tools for generating, assembling, storing, visualizing, sharing, and reporting environmental data and information. The tools can be used individually or together, and they can be adjusted or tuned to meet the specific needs of environmental planners, regulators, managers, scientists, and educators. The maps and tools can be used to create a complete picture of aquatic resources in the landscape by integrating stream and wetland maps, restoration information, and monitoring results with land use, transportation, and other information important to the state’s wetlands.

GreenPlan-IT (Project)

Green infrastructure (GI), such as permeable pavement, rain gardens, tree-well planters, or bioswales, can be used as cost-effective, resilient approaches to managing stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits for your community. GreenPlan-IT is a versatile open-source toolset that helps aid municipalities with their efforts to plan and evaluate the placement of green infrastructure in the landscape and track the effectiveness of these installations in reducing stormwater run-off, PCB, and mercury in receiving waters.

New Interactive Map Helps Delta Governments and Communities Plan for Adaptation by Understanding Flood Risks from Rising Sea Level and Storms (News)

The Adapting to Rising Tides program of the SF Bay Conservation & Development Commission (ART BCDC), Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) and the San Francisco Estuary Institute / Aquatic Science Center (SFEI) are unveiling the East Contra Costa Shoreline Flood Explorer. SFEI developed the new explorer as a complementary tool to the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer to allow government organizations and communities in East Contra Costa County to access interactive online maps of local flood risks due to rising sea levels and storm events. These tools help to both highlight what our region could look like without intervention, and to encourage local and regional adaptive plans to minimize flood risks.

logo created for the San Francisco Estuary Partnership by SFEI

SFEI Provides Science Leadership and Support for State of the Estuary Report and Conference (News)

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP) brings together the estuarine community every two years at the State of the Estuary Conference and, periodically, SFEP also reports on the State of the Estuary, summarizing the latest scientific findings about ecosystem health. This State of the Estuary Report is the only place where a holistic view of ecosystem function is provided across both the Bay and the Delta. This year, SFEI provided scientific leadership and technical support for the report, which focuses on the ties between social and ecological resilience for our estuary.

Drone photo by Pete Kauhanen

SFEI GIS Internship Opportunity - Delta Aquatic Resource Inventory Mapping (News)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) is one of California’s premier aquatic and ecosystem science institutes. Our mission: provide scientific support and tools for decision- making and communication through collaborative efforts. We provide independent science to assess and improve the health of the waters, wetlands, wildlife and landscapes of San Francisco Bay, the California Delta and beyond. 

Photo Credits: Micha Salomon (L), Dee Shea Himes (R)

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

Through the Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project, SFEI and sixteen partner organizations is developing multi-benefit tools to enhance climate change resilience in San Francisco Bay. Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands has three major components: Making Nature’s City: a Science-based Framework for Building Urban Biodiversity, Tidal Wetlands Restoration and Implementation Projects.

Images by Pete Kauhanen

Unoccupied Aerial Vehicle Research (Project)

SFEI has invested in novel, cost-effective solutions to costly problems. Most recently, our work with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has yielded some very promising results. We have collaborated with our colleagues at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) to field test a UAV and apply it to a number of scientific challenges. In the course of this research, we have derived some useful analysis on the use of the technology.

Santa Clara Valley Water District Priority D5 Project's Watershed Condition Assessments (2010 to 2018) (Project)

SFEI and the Santa Clara Valley Water District's (Valley Water) Priority D-5 Project have been conducting baseline ecological condition assessments in Santa Clara County, CA to characterize the distribution and abundance of stream and wetlands in five major watersheds, and assess the overall ecological condition of streams in the watersheds based on the California Rapic Assessment Method for streams (CRAM).  The surveys employ the state's recommended Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan's aproach that includes the use of GIS-base maps of aquatice resources (BAARI), and spatially-balanced ambient stream surveys using CRAM.

SFEI Developed the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer for BCDC’s ART program, with More to Come (News)

Over the past year, SFEI has been working with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission's (BCDC) Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) program to develop their new Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer. SFEI’s Environmental Informatics team has designed and developed this public-facing and relevant web tool to highlight threats posed by sea level rise. The tool’s sea-level-rise data was created by AECOM, supported by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority, and funded with support from greenhouse gas reduction funds.

Drones for the Environment (News)

The Institute has been making use of drones for a number of projects over the past few years. However, recently, within the Environmental Informatics program, SFEI has been using UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in particularly innovative ways.

SFEI's journal article on Green Stormwater Infrastructure featured as the Editor's Choice (News)

A team led by Dr. Jing Wu penned a paper in January on using Green Stormwater Infrastructure to protect the Bay from PCBs and other contaminants. "Optimal Selection and Placement of Green Infrastructure in Urban Watersheds for PCB Control" is now featured in the Editor’s Choice section of the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment for the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Resilient Silicon Valley (Project)

Drawing on resilience science, regional data, and local expertise, we will develop the vision and tools that will allow stakeholders in the region ensure that local actions contribute toward the creation of a high-functioning and resilient Silicon Valley ecosystem.

California Trash Data Dive 2018 (News)

On November 16, 2018, the project team helped to coordinate a Trash Data Dive convened by the State Water Board’s Office of Information Management and Analysis. Hosted at SFEI’s offices, the Trash Data Dive was well-attended and drew participants from all over California to discuss the opportunities to address entrenched problems with respect to trash-related information.

GreenPlan-IT Tracker Released to the public (News)

Municipalities across the state and beyond are carefully planning and implementing green infrastructure in their developed landscape to restore key aspects of the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure helps to achieve stormwater attenuation and contaminant filtration by increasing the pervious surfaces in often sophisticated ways.

Satellite Imaging to Detect Cyanobacterial Blooms (Project)

Satellite remote sensing will aid the State of California in assessing cyanobacterial bloom threats to animal and human health across the state’s numerous large lakes. 

SFEI’s drone technology is helping track the trash across California.

Photo courtesy of Shelly Moore, SCCWRP

California Trash Monitoring Methods Project (Project)

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC), in close partnership with the State Water Board, has recognized the importance of standard methods for trash monitoring and has funded this project. The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) and San Francisco Bay Estuary Institute (SFEI) have partnered up to test multiple trash monitoring methods with a goal of developing a library of methods with known levels of precision, accuracy, and cross-comparability of results, and linking these methods to specific management questions.

Statewide Wetland Tracking, Science, and Policy Development Support (Project)

SFEI’s Wetland Science Focus Area’s Director, Josh Collins, is a leader in the coordination of statewide science advisory teams and acquiring funding to develop monitoring and assessment tools that support the State’s Wetland and Riparian Area Protection Policy.

Using Drones to Improve Corte Madera Marsh Management (News)

SFEI is increasing the use of drones to support assessing and monitoring the health of local ecosystems. We recently completed UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), or drone, flights over Corte Madera marsh. This effort will improve marsh management by studying marsh erosion processes and detecting changes in the marsh edge due to marsh growth or attrition from winter storms.

This is the second time that SFEI has surveyed Corte Madera marsh’s edge, but this times comes with significant improvements.

Mapping Outside the Box: Visualizing Bay Landscapes in New Dimensions (News)

The most recent meeting of the San Francisco Estuary Geospatial Workgroup featured Pete Kauhanen and Lawrence Sim of SFEI's Environmental program. This meeting focused on emerging technologies for visualizing the changing Bay around us. Presenters discussed new data, tools, and approaches that are helping inform regional natural resource management.

The Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer, developed by SFEI

BCDC GIS, Graphics, and Technological Services (Project)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute is working to provide support for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) though Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Graphics, and Technological Services.