The Recalculation of Elizabeth City State University Bay Area

Members: Ryan Lawerence, and Ya'Shonti Bridgers

Dr. Malcolm LeCompte
Assistant Mentor: Michael Jefferson Jr.

In 2011, an ECSU research team discovered a small ice shelf in Pine Island Bay, Antarctica had progressively receded until it disappeared completely in 2003. The ice shelf found to have disappeared is the furthest south of any similar such event known to have occurred since satellite monitoring of Earth South Pole began over 30 years ago. As a result of this discovery, the bay in which the ice shelf formerly resided has been named Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Bay. This discovery was accomplished by undergraduate student using EXELIS ENVI Image processing software on archived Landsat imagery and a new, NASA-developed, Basal Stress Boundary.
The original calculations for the temporal progress of the ice shelf's area reduction were done during a summer undergraduate research program and reported in a paper accepted for publication by the International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Journal of Selected Topics in Applied earth observations and Remote Sensing (JSTARS). Area estimates for each image were derived from multiple trials to obtain a first-order estimate of the decrease in area of the ice shelf. The effort was problematic due to inherent subjectivity of the methodology resulting in a larger than acceptable standard deviation. Up to 10% of the area estimate.
With publication of the paper pending it was deemed appropriate to improve the accuracy of the estimate of the original calculations. Higher accuracy was obtained by exploiting ENVI's ability to present a higher resolution image of the area being measured and by improving the visibility of the Basal Stress Boundary used as a boundary for the ice shelf. Common warped images were created and used by participants to create a uniform basis upon which the area estimates were made. The more accurate results, with their lower statistical variability were inserted into the JSTARS paper in its final review opportunity assumed to occur in early April.