This first week of the course is an introduction to remote sensing and its value for understanding Earth and how it changes over time. You will browse a variety of images and animations created from remote sensed data, explore Earth from the perspective of a NASA satellite using the Eyes on the Earth 3-D simulation, and use NASA NEO to download a satellite image that you can use in your teaching.
Without tools designed to measure and analyze remote sensing images, they are often just pretty pictures. We may get a qualitative sense of what's going on, but science requires a quantitative analysis as well. In Week 2, you will be introduced to ImageJ, a public domain image processing program developed by scientists for scientific analysis. You will use some of the tool's basic functions to analyze the impact of drought on Lake Mead.
Among the issues related to global climate change are the effects of the thickness and extent of polar sea ice as a habitat for animals in polar regions, as well as the implications to people living in or near these regions. In Week 3, you will learn to create and manipulate image stacks in ImageJ to visualize and analyze changes in the extent of Arctic sea ice over time.
In Week 4, you will learn how to use NASA's web-based tool, Giovanni, to access, visualize, and analyze ocean color remote sensing data. You will create a time-averaged data map and a time series animation of chlorophyll-a data from Chesapeake Bay.
Invasive species are characterized by their ability to spread rapidly, the lack of natural controls or predators, and the ability to persist. They are a global problem that includes all types of biological invaders, not just plants. During Week 5, you will become familiar with basic GIS functions, learn to build and execute GIS database queries, and apply GIS techniques to investigate the spread of invasive species.
The path that a river takes over land changes through time. During Week 6, you will learn to symbolize and classify GIS data as you explore how the flow of the Mississippi River has changed through time, how evidence of ancient rivers can be found in modern soils, and how rivers transport and deposit sediments to balance the erosion and subsidence of their deltas.
Importing latitude/longitude data in tabular format into a GIS enables you to view the data spatially and begin to think about geographic patterns. During Week 7, you will import, symbolize, and spatially query earthquake data to investigate patterns with current and historical earthquake activity.
Forest fires can be both detrimental and beneficial to the environment. NASA satellites and GIS play an important role in monitoring and managing forest fires. During Week 8, you will use GIS analysis techniques to investigate the fires that took place in Yellowstone Park in 1988.
A simulated 3-dimensional environment allows you to explore locations you never thought possible. The ability to "fly" to any location on Earth can shed new light on spatial relationships between various locations or geographical features. During Week 9, you will become familiar with the basic functions of Google Earth and learn how to connect a series of locations in a Google Earth tour to tell a cohesive story.
Earth's unique weather and climate determine where life will flourish or perish. Throughout history, humans have strived to understand patterns in weather and climate. During Week 10, you will become familiar with the types of data you can import into Google Earth (ie. KML/KMZ, GPS, photos, image overlays), compare satellite and ground-based rainfall data, and learn how to use Google Earth to compare multiple datasets.
The delicate balance and productivity of tropical forest ecosystems are being jeopardized by widespread deforestation. Satellite technology is one of the key components in the effort to monitor, study, and limit the extent of deforestation. During Week 11, you will learn how data collected at different wavelengths can be combined in different orders to highlight surface features on Earth and use ImageJ to create an RGB color image showing changes in deforestation using time-series images.
Oceans provide food, natural resources, recreation, and a means for transporting people and goods. Oceans also regulate regional and global climate. During Week 12, you will use all three Eyes in the Sky tools—ImageJ, AEJEE & ArcGIS, and Google Earth—to explore and compare ocean data related to the migration of sea turtles.