Ocean and Marine
Science Projects
Nature of Student Projects

Students will work in teams with one of the three faculty serving as mentor for a team. Teams will interact during the weekly project meetings, the lectures, and the opening and the closing programs. This approach will facilitate the development of student-faculty and student-student communications. Detailed descriptions of each projects follows. The visualization (Satellite Imagery) project has several components each of which will enhance the student's understanding of fundamental remote sensing concepts. These include:
  • Air Masses of the Earth
  • Atmospheric Absorption
  • Cloud types and movement
  • Cloud height and temperature
  • Cold Fronts
  • The Coriolis Effect
  • The Diurnal Cycle
  • Fire Detection
  • The Gulf Stream
  • High Level Clouds
  • The Jet Stream
  • Intertropical Covergence Zone
The second project will focus on Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, while the GIS project will focus on GIS tools and applications including ArcView, and Thematic Mapping. Complete description of each of the three proposed undergraduate research projects follows.

Satellite Imagery Activities:

1. Air Masses of the Earth

Abstract: This activity introduces the student to the five basic air masses that affect weather in our hemisphere. Using real-time satellite imagery, the student will then locate the probable location of these air masses and predict current movements.

Outcomes: The student will be able to identify the five air masses that typically affect the weather in the Northern Hemisphere. The student will be able to identify the current location of these air masses using satellite imagery. The student will label a map of the Northern Hemisphere with the correct location of the air masses. The student will predict where these air masses are travelling or if they are stationary. The student will gain an introduction to fronts that relate to the boundary of air masses.

2.Atmospheric Absorption

Abstract: This activity discusses the atmospheric absorption spectrum. The student will determine the extent to which each channel is affected by atmospheric absorption and form a hypothesis about which channels are most likely to make accurate surface temperature measurements. The student will then test this hypothesis by taking temperature measurements in all the infrared channels and comparing them to ground truth data from ground stations and specialized sea surface temperature satellites. He/she will then quantify the deviation of the GOES surface temperature measurements from the ground truth data to confirm or negate the hypothesis.

Outcome: The student will learn about the absorption spectrum of various atmospheric constituents and use his or her knowledge about atmospheric absorption to form a hypothesis that answers the question, "Which GOES channels can be used to make surface temperature measurements?" The student will be able to cross reference ground truth data with satellite data to quantify the accuracy achieved by various satellite channels.

3. Climbing to New Heights

Abstract: This activity involves students in the process of indentifying cloud types and movement from a satellite image and gathering data through a 48-hour period. Lifting mechanisms that produce clouds will be investigated and the influence of topography on cloud development will be described. This activity should follow successful completion of the basic series of website activities.

Outcomes: The student will distinguish between the various cloud types, identify areas of cloud development in a satellite image, construct a loop of GOES images showing cloud formation and movement. Students will track cloud movements over the continental United States recording changes in altitute and temperature as influenced by topography.

4. Graphing Cloud Height vs. Temperature

Abstract: The student will create a data table of cloud height and temperature, using derived image channels and latitute/longitude coordinates to locate points, and create a graph of cloud height vs. temperature by plotting these points on an x-y axis. Once the graph has been created, the student must draw conclusions about the mathematical relationship between cloud height and temperature and its effect on the weather.

Outcomes: The student will be able to use the GVAR software to locate specific points and create a data table. The student will be able to plot a graph on an x-y axis. The student will determine if a graph represents a direct, inverse, or nonexistent relationship between two variables.

5. Cold Fronts - A Violent Meeting

Abstract: This activity will cover the development of cold fronts and link their movement to the overall movement of air masses on the Earth.

Outcomes: The student will understand the dynamic forces that create a cold front, and locate a cold front using satellite imagery. The student will be able to indicate a cold front on a weather map. The student will create a hypothesis and test this hypothesis using satellite interpretation.

6. The Coriolis Effect

Abstract: This activity will explore the causes of the Coriolis Effect and analyze how this effect determines wind movement and weather throughout the globe. Students will learn the science behind the Coriolis Effect by examining various websites and doing some hands-on demonstrations. Satellite images will then be used to analyze the global impact of this.

Outcomes: The student will be able to describe the mechanism that causes the Coriolis Effect. The student will be able to demonstrate the Coriolis Effect using at least two methods. The student will be able to predict high and low pressure from the air movement in satellite images.

7. The Diurnal Cycle

Abstract: This activity will introduce the diurnal cycle and its effects on the global processes that shape our earth. It begins with an introduction to the mechanisms that drive this heat cycle and continues by having students track this with real-time satellite images.

Outcomes: The student will develop a comprehensive understanding of the diurnal cycle, identify the diurnal cycle in film loops of infrared satellite images, and create a surface temperature chart of various regions of the globe a different times of day. Students will create a line graph of the temperature data.

8. Fire Detection with GOES Data

Abstract: This activity will allow the student to find fires that have been detected on the Internet and then find and track fires with real-time data. This activity also encompasses respones of different IR channels to sub-pixel heat sources, a fire product made by combining information from two channels, and colorizing data through the creation of a color palette.

Outcomes: The student will understand different applications of IR2 and IR4 channels, experience the effect of combining data from multiple channels of the electromagnetic spectrum use Internet data to verify fires detected with GOES data, and detect fire hot spots using GOES data. The student will be able to distinguish between different features of an image by creating a color palette, and to locate fires by detecting smoke plumes.

9. The Gulf Stream

Abstract: This activity allows students to study the Gulf Stream. In doing so, students can isolate the Gulf Stream with a color palette, track its activity over long periods of time, create loops of Gulf Stream movements, and relate to Gulf Stream activity to other environmental factors.

Outcomes: The student will be able to explain the nature of the Gulf Stream, explain the factors that cause this phenomenon, locate the Gulf Stream and isolate it with a color palette, and track the movement of the Gulf Stream by measuring changing distances from points on the Eastern coast of the U.S. The student will be able to create a loop to visualize changes in the Gulf Stream over time.

10. High Level Clouds - What's up?

Abstract: This activity will involve identifying clouds in the high level cloud group. It will cover the development of these clouds and the weather associated with the different clouds in this group.

Outcomes: Students will be able to identify clouds in the high cloud grouping by picture identification and satellite imagery identification. Students will classify clouds into separate groups and create a cloud library of these clouds. Students will predict what type of weather an area had, is having and is going to have based on the types of clouds that are present. Students will use a combination of visible and infrared imagery.

11. The Jet Stream

Abstract: This activity allows students to detect the jet stream in channel 3 and channel 4 imagery and monitor its changes over time. This activity also allows students to correlate the jet stream with other weather phenomena, such as air masses, clouds, and storms.

Outcome: The student will be able to identify the jet stream using satellite imagery. The student will be able to explain the global impact of the jet steam.

12. Intertropical Convergence Zone

Abstract: This activity will examine an area of the globe called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The student will gain a general understanding of what causes this phenomenon and will chart the movement of this climatological zone with the passing of the seasons. The student will correlate convective activity at the ITCZ with other satellite data on the Internet and research the implications of this area on the global earth processes.

Outcomes: The student will be able to explain the development of the ITCZ and how it affects global weather, and locate the ITCZ using satellite images. The student will create a chart of the movement of the ITCZ over time.

Determining Sea Surface Temperature using
Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

AVHRR Activities:

Oceans Pathfinder sea surface temperature data are derived from the 5-channel Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometers (AVHRR) on board the NOAA-7, -9, -11 and - 14 polar orbiting satellites. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) currently uses two polar-orbiting Satellites, NOAA-12 and NOAA-14, for twice-daily global observations of sea surface temperature. The satellites are equipped with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) which scans the surface with a nadir resolution of 1.1 km and continuously broadcasts the data to ground receiving stations within the line of sight. Daily, 8-day and monthly averaged data for both the ascending pass (daytime) and descending pass (nighttime) are available on equal-angle grids of 4096 pixels/360 degrees (nominally refered to as the 9km resolution), 2048 pixels/360 degrees (nominally referred to as the 18km resolution), and 720 pixels/360 degrees (nominally referred to as the 54km resolution or 0.5 degree resolution). Data in different spatial/temporal resolutions are available from 1985-1999 (November 20). Global files are available through PO.DAAC ftp or order form and desired regions are available through the AVHRR Pathfinder subsetting system.

Students will gain an understanding of how infrared radiance measurements have been used since 1970 to estimate sea surface temperature from space. Students will also gain an understanding of how solutions to practical problems such as correcting for the effects of the intervening atmospshere, and identifying cloud-free regions are now handled. Other Ocean Science concepts to be covered are:

  • Surface Heat Budget
  • Global Mean Sea Surface Temperature Distribution
  • Movement of Water by Winds -- The Ekman Spiral
      Coastal, Wind Driven Upwelling
      Open Ocean Wind Driven Upwelling Near the Equator
  • Daily Warming and Cooling of Sea Surface
  • Seasonal Warming and Cooling of Sea Surface
      Indian Ocean Monsoon
Interannual Warming and Cooling of Sea Surface:

The project will be centered on how sea surface temperature is inferred from the amount of infrared energy leaving the sea surface. The effect of the atmosphere is to attenuate this signal and to add other sources of infrared energy to the surface signal arriving at the satellite. These atmosphereic effects must either be removed or corrected in order to accurately determine the surface temperature from satellite measurements. There are two steps to removing the influence of the atmosphere. First, detect and eliminate pixels containg clouds. Then the cloud-free pixels are identified, the remaining pixels are corrected for the residual influences of water vapor and aerosols in the atmosphere in order to obtain accurate values for Sea Surface Temperature (SST).

There are four possible methods or schemes to detect clouds. Several of these methods will be investigated.
  • Maximum Temperature
  • Two Wavelength Infrared
  • Infrared Variability
  • Two Wavelength Visible-Infrared
Once cloud-free pixels have been identified, the infrared radiance of the remaing pxiels must be corrected for the influence of water vapor and aerosols in the atmosphere in order to obtain accurate values for SST. Either Single-Wavelength or Two-Wavelength methods are used to correct the signal arriving at the satellite for the effects of water vapor. Once the atmospheric influences are removed or corrected, the SST can be inferred from the amount of infrared radiation arriving at the satellite from the surface because hotter objects emit more energy per unit area than colder objects (Stefan-Boltzman's Law).

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Geographical Information Systems Activites:

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology is an important and powerful tool because it allows for the processing and display of geographic data in new ways and improves the efficiency of more traditional spatial analysis. GIS technology may be applied to natural resource management, land management, demographic research, health issues, facilities management, and street network studies to name a few applications. This review summaries the manner in which two students participating in a recent GIS workshop addressed two issues that are common to spatial analysis using GIS.

Students will begin to identify basic components of GIS followed by studying two basic models in GIS analysis of data. The vector data model is based on points (or nodes), lines (or arcs), and polygons. Vector files, such as the U.S. Census TIGER files, use topology, which is the relationship among points, lines and polygons. The second model type is the raster data model, which is based on cells, or pixels with each cell containing a single attribute value, or z-value. GIS raster data are usually comprised of square cells, and may consist of any tessellation scheme. A tessellation is any regular shape, such as a square, rectangle, triangle, or hexagon, that covers a plane surface without any gaps. Raster-based GIS analysis often uses environmental data that is continuous in nature, such as classifying land use-types from satellite imagery or calculating slope from elevation data. Whether raster or vector data is considered, it is displayed graphically in a manner similar to the following layering theme: WELLS, STREAMS, and DIGITAL ELEVATION.

Arc View is a vector-based, desktop geographic information system. It is comprised of featuers for the input of spatial and attribute data, a geographic analysis system, and a map display system for visualization and public presentation. For example, by using Arc View one may compile a simple spatial database to explain some of the analytic capabilities of a GIS. One application of the GIS technology using a vector-based scheme is the manner in which one may use this technology to answer questions and explore patterns regarding the locations and attributes of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Sites for the state of Georgia. A Student participating in a recent GIS workshop addressed the issue of toxic chemical using this technology. One aspect that was considered was that industries throughout the United States must provide information about the presence and release of hazardous or toxic chemicals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compiles these data into a publically accessible national inventory. The data used in the research will be obtained from the Basins 2.0 Tutorial/Case Study on the state of Georgia available on-line at http://www.epa.gov/OST/BAINS/bsnsdocs.htm. Questions to be addressed in this research are:

  1. How many TRI sites are within each county? Which five counties have the largest number of TRI sites?
  2. What is the percentage of TRI sites located within urban areas?
  3. How many currently operating TRI sites are within 0.5 miles of the Chattahoochee River? How many of these sites discharge to water or land? What are the names of these companies?
Other team members will deal with IDRISI, which is a raster data-based system used to portray landform regions and accompanying of identifiable manmade features. Raster data will be used to help identify areas suitable for lease to timber companies, based upon certain criteria. For example, the area of Maple Mountain, located in the Timiskaming District of Ontario, Canada, north of Lake Huron, can be displayed via image files that are derived from the Canada Geographic Information System, one of the first large-scale GIS's ever developed. This GIS will provide three images and are identified below:
  1. forspec - forest species showing Jack Pine and White Pine
  2. shoreline - shorelines showing areas of ware of land
  3. roads - raods
From these images, one can create other images of varying detail. An analysis of raster data in this manner may involve:
  1. The preparation of output images;
  2. The construction of a flow chart of operations in IDRISI
  3. The performance of mathematical overlay operations; and
  4. An explanation of how to perform site suitability analysis using raster data.
This analysis could yield the following results:
  1. An overlay of only White Pine to be harvested.
  2. An overlay of leases that cannot be granted for areas less than 100m from water body.
  3. An overlay of leases that cannot be granted for areas less than 1000 hectars in size.
The use of both raster-based and vector-based GIS data profiles has proven to be very useful in various applications of this technology. Students will participate in further examination of the use of GIS technology to help solve real-world problems in future workshops.
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