Nikhil, SEES Earth System Explorer 2023

Guest author

My fieldwork to map land via the Globe app led me to understand where I live better. Texas is the second-largest U.S. state by both area and population. There are only four deserts in North America, and Texas is home to the Chihuahuan Desert. Texas Land Conservancy [TLC] works to conserve natural areas, protect the physical and ecological integrity of their wildlife habitat and native plant communities, and provide essential endangered species habitat. Texas boasts nearly 300 native tree species and is also home to 85 species of mosquitoes. My areas of interest (AOIs) spanned Williamson and Travis counties.


Austin (Travis County)A city with a river and a park

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  • Previously known as Waterloo, Austin was incorporated in 1840 and named after Stephen F. Austin, the Founding Father of Texan Independence
  • The climate is classified as "humid subtropical" with hot summers and mild winters.
  • Austin’s preserve system began in 1935 with the creation of Zilker Nature Preserve.
  • The most common tree species are Ashe  juniper, cedar elm, live oak, sugarberry, and  Texas persimmon.

Round Rock (Williamson County)A sign on a stone wall next to a river

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  • The name of Round Rock was officially given to the community in 1854.
  • The city straddles the Balcones Escarpment, a fault zone that may be related to the Ouachita Mountains, formed 300 million years ago during a continental collision
  •  Round rock has thick, black, calcerous soils.
  • The most common plant species include Texas redbuds, Mexican bush sage, marigolds, and more.

Cedar Park (Williamson County)A path in a park

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  • Climate: Cedar Park experiences long, muggy summers and short, windy winters. It has a humid subtropical climate. 
  • There is plenty of limestone underneath the ground in Cedar Park.
  • The landscape of this area allows for optimal growth of Texas mountain laurels, holly, and wildflowers.

Leander (Williamson County)A bush on the shore of a lake

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  • Leander is home to many trees, including live oak, pistachio, Texas ash, and pecan.
  • This area’s source of water is Lake Travis, on the Colorado River in Travis County.
  • There are campgrounds, trails, and waterfalls open for public use here.
  • Turtles, bats, wild turkeys, and bluebonnets are all components of Leander’s ecosystem.


 About the author: Nikhil P. is a rising senior at Round Rock High School in Austin, TX. Nikhil Parida​​​​​​​His virtual internship is part of a collaboration between the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and the NASA  Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) to extend the TSGC Summer Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) internship for U.S. high school ( In this guest blog post, he shares the NASA SEES Earth System Explorers virtual internship in 2023.

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