This post was contributed by Cara Estes, science mentor and College of Marine Science graduate student.
Remote Sensing Lab Mentor: Cara Estes
Remote sensing is something we use every day in a variety of ways. If you use a phone, GPS, radio, or even Snapchat® you are relying on remote sensing. Remote sensing uses a variety of sensors to detect energy from the sun without coming into contact with the object. A common type of remote sensing utilizes satellites. The first two lab days, I had four amazing campers who learned how satellites use light from the sun to make interpretations of the environment based off the surface conditions of our oceans. First, we built spectroscopes. Using these, we were able to observe how differences in wavelengths allow us to identify their light sources, much like how satellites use wavelengths of reflected light to measure chlorophyll. The second half of the lab allowed the campers to test their hypotheses using images of time series and plot the averages of chlorophyll and sea surface temperature over a two-year period in the Gulf of Mexico. This type of data acquisition and processing allows us to better monitor our oceans and see large trends across a variety of ecosystems. It is also arguably the fastest growing branch of research due to the amount of open-access data available. I hope this lab illustrated to the campers a lesser-known side to oceanography and make them want to embrace novel techniques, the power of large data, and how much we can learn about the world all from the seat in front of a computer.