Research Experience

November 2007-April 2008 Undergraduate Research Experience Program
Elizabeth City State University
Mentor: Dr. Minjun Wang
Learning and Practice of Computation and Visualization using Interactive Data Language for Polar Science
Team Site

The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) headed at the University of Kansas (KU) was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the polar regions (Greenland and Antarctica), and research the various changes occuring with ice sheets. CReSIS uses various types of radar to analyze ice sheet data. Researchers use radar to probe the ice sheets to get huge amounts of data- Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data. SAR data contains more information on the ice sheets for discovery. During the International Polar Year (IPY 2007-2009), luminous data sets will be obtained- Terabytes of data will be in just one field campaign. This means large storage devices and fast computers (multi-core) will be needed to process the data sets and retrieve results in a timely manner, which will outstrip the current capacity of the grids of storage and computers.

In response, Indiana University (IU), Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), and the University of Kansas (KU) initiated a Polar Grid project for the purpose to set up a Cyber “Infrastructure for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets". This Grid will consist of the state-of-the-art computers and storage hardware, and also application/processing tools, and scientific gateways for the Polar Science Community to conveniently access the resources. It is important, too, to educate and train the researches, educators, and students for polar science. The Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research (CERSER) of ECSU has committed to engage the students and train them for polar science with hand-on practices and skills for future study, research and career dedications to the polar science field.

To provide support for Polar data collection, an advanced scientific programming and visualization environment will be used to develop interfaces for computation and visualization- compute-intensive tasks such as in big array operations. In this project, Interactive Data Language (IDL) was investigated as the package for efficient and convenient data visualization capacities in the forms of graphics, images and photographs. 2D and 3D require intensive computation and efficient visualization, which are crucial for the Polar Grid project.

The project involved learning the IDL language and environment. IDL is an array-oriented data analysis and visualization application, which is widely used in research, commerce, and education. Its application areas include engineering, medical physics, astronomical, space, and earth science. It offers rapid interactive data analysis and visualization, a programming environment, and end user applications. IDL is available for Windows, UNIX, Linux, Macintosh and VMS platforms and Operating Systems. The high availability facilitates data analysis and visualization in multi-platform environment, and ensures high code portability among platforms and systems.

November 2006-April 2007            Undergraduate Research Experience Program
Elizabeth City State University
Mentor: Dr. Malcolm LeCompte
“West Antarctic Ice Sheet Firn Temperature Record Continuity and Seasonal   Trends: Implications for Determining Emissivity Trends from SSM/I Brightness   Temperatures”

Abstract-Firn is compacted, near surface snow persisting longer than one season but not yet compressed into glacial ice. Knowledge of firn surface temperature (Ts) trends across temporal and spatial context for research during the Antarctic International Polar Year (IPY). Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) provide episodic near-surface temperature (TAWS≈Ts) trends at a limited number of sites on the Antarctic continent while satellite passive microwave radiometers aboard the Defense Meteorology Satellite Program (DMSP) Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) obtain a nearly continuous daily record of surface brightness temperature (TB) across the entire continent. To a good approximation, TB is equal to the product of the surface emissivity (ε) with its actual temperature, TAWS.

The ratio of spatially and temporally coincident TB and TAWS yields an estimate of ε at a specific time and place and can be used to extrapolate TS trends across temporal and spatial gaps in the limited AWS record. The spatial and temporal variability of firn emissivity is not well understood but known to be a much less variable than daily TS. Tabulating continuous daily ratios of TB/TAWS yields a firn ε trend, from which TS data gaps can be filled from TB data or vice versa.

The first step in calculating emissivity trends from satellite and in-situ measurements was to compile a record of TAWS across the region of interest. The 2006-7 Antarctic Temperature Mapping team compiled extensive records of TAWS from selected stations on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) bordering an interior region without AWS coverage. Daily average TAWS records for the AWS sites were obtained for the AWS Project data archive at the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). The stations whose temperature records are included in this compilation are: Brianna (1994-1997), Byrd (1981-99), Elizabeth (1996-99), Erin (1996-99), Patrick (1986-91), Ski Hi (1994-98), Swithenbank (1998-99) and Theresa (1994-99). The AWS temperature data itself constitutes an important record of the WAIS climate since 1980, and is worthy of closer examination before addressing the project’s second phase: tabulating SSM/I TB observations and calculating associated emissivity trends using TAWS values. For each AWS, a seasonal surface temperature average was determined and compared with those derived for the opposite season and with each other. In addition, for the sites with longer operating records; data from the first half of its operational life was compared with data recorded during its second half. These same trends were used to deduce firn emissivity. As a preliminary step to this next activity, ε trends at Ski Hi AWS site were derived from archived TAWS data coincident daily TB observations. Daily SSM/I values TB for the Ski Hi site were obtained from Dr. Chris Shuman at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Team Website:

November 2005-April 2006            Undergraduate Research Experience Program
Elizabeth City State University
Mentor: Dr. Malcolm LeCompte
“Coastal Upwelling-Determining Correlation between Sea Surface Temperatures and Chlorophyll Levels in Order to Provide Evidence of Coastal Upwelling”

Abstract-Satellite measurements of Sea Surface Temperature often reveal cooler water from offshore ocean depths temporarily displacing warmer coastal surface layers. These waters may carry nutrients that enable the growth of chlorophyll bearing species of marine biota that ultimately support higher levels of the food chain. Evidence suggests that upwelling is driven by southerly winds parallel to Eastern North Carolina coast line. While wind driven upwelling events have been detected along the North Carolina coast line; a correlation with the production of chlorophyll species production has not yet been made. The magnitude of chlorophyll bearing species production can be estimated by measuring the relative radiance of in reflected sunlight from the oceans surface in different spectral bands. Measurements of reflected sunlight radiance at appropriate spectral bands have been made by the Sea viewing Wide Field of view (SeaWiFS) Sensor aboard the NASA-OrbImage SeaStar satellite. The team will import the SeaDAS software to enable analysis of data for the summers of 2000 and 2003 during which upwellings are known to have occurred and determine whether a correlation can be established between Chlorophyll a levels and SST in coastal waters.
Team Website:
ECSU Box #1339 University Suites
1704 Weeksvile Road Elizabeth City N.C. 27909