Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Laramie middle- and high-school students’ work showcased in 2012 AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting

Posters prepared by Laramie K-12 students on display in the main 
atrium of the USGS EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, SD

Three K-12 students from Laramie had a busy summer measuring surface temperatures of natural and man-made features and the spectral reflectance values of leaves. These research activities were part of WyomingView's Earth Observation Day activities. Their findings were showcased in the 2012 AmericaView Fall Technical Meeting in Sioux Falls, SD.

Arundathi Nair, an 5th grader in the Spring Creek Elementary School explored whether man-made surfaces (roads and concrete pavement) were hotter than a natural surface (grass lawn).  Her measurements taken at 10 am, 1 pm, and 6 pm revealed that temperature of all surfaces rose to their maximum values at 1 pm.  The temperature of the road was higher than that of concrete pavement.  Grass surface had the lowest temperature, which led her to conclude that man-made surfaces were hotter than natural surfaces.

Tire mulch mat installed in this park recorded an
average temperature of 65°C (150 °F) at noon, while the
average temperature of the grass lawn and concrete
pavement were 
34°C and  25°C respectively
Sarah Arulsamy, an 8th grader in the Laramie Junior High School was also interested in how different urban features absorbed radiation at different times of the day.  She measured the surface temperature of concrete sidewalks, grass lawns, asphalt roads and tire mulch in a park (right) at 8 am, 12 am, 4 pm, and 8 pm.  She measured each features at four locations (except tire mulch which was measured at only one location) in her neighborhood on five days.  Her research revealed that the temperature of roads and pavement were higher than grass lawns at any time of the day.  She noticed that the surface of the tire mulch in the playground recorded the highest temperature 65°C (150 °F) at noon.

Changes in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
values of aspen and cottonwood leaves sampled in Laramie, WY
Mrudhula Baskaran a 10th grader at Laramie High School monitored spectral reflectance changes in aspen and cottonwood leaves.  Using an Alta II Reflectance Spectrometer she measured the spectral reflectance values of 10 leaves from each tree and computed the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).  She repeated these experiments on the 24th August, and the 2nd and 9th of September, 2012.  While the NDVI values of aspen trees declined during this period, the cottonwood trees showed no change.  This study helped her to see the relationship between the changes in leaf color and reflectance.

Thanks to Dr. Alan Buss, University of Wyoming, for loaning the infrared thermometer and Alta Spectroradiometer, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, University of Toledo, for providing the infrared thermometer used in these studies.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WyomingView conducts workshop highlighting the utility of Landsat data for natural resources monitoring

WyomingView coordinator Ramesh Sivanpillai conducted a workshop at the Cable Center in Denver, CO as part of the 2012 GIS in the Rockies Conference, highlighting remote sensing concepts and the utility of Landsat data for natural resources monitoring.  This workshop introduced GIS professionals to the characteristics of remotely sensed data and how they are collected.  Participants learned how each task required data at appropriate spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions, and the consequences of working with inappropriate data.

In the second part of the workshop, participants learned about the Landsat archive and the value of earth observation data spanning over 40+ years.  Sivanpillai explained the data characteristics of the five Landsat satellites (1-5 and 7), and how these data sets can be used for monitoring changes in the surface of the earth.  Landsat images were used to demonstrate how seasonal, annual, and long-term changes can be monitored and quantified.  Participants learned to browse and download Landsat data from GloVis (glovis.usgs.gov) – a USGS web portal.

Participants were asked to describe how they plan to use Landsat data in their future work.  One of the participants said “After this workshop, I realize that I can use Landsat for my future work in vegetation surveys … Interestingly I also realized that Landsat can be used for business, real estate, development etc.”  Another participant, a University of Northern Colorado student said “…useful when writing geographic papers (in fact before and after map)”.  While others mentioned that they planned to use Landsat data for mapping invasive species, threats to archeological resources, and avalanche forecasting.

This WyomingView educational outreach activity was conducted on 19 September 2012 (http://www.gisintherockies.org/GISITR2012/Workshops/Workshops.aspx).