Conservation Technology – Mapping our environment using the Carnegie Airborne Observatory

Remote sensing was recently on stage at TEDGlobal 2013, where Greg Asner highlighted how advanced technology can be leveraged for improved conservation of our natural environment.

Asner, a scientist in the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, believes that “technology is absolutely critical to managing our planet, but even more important is the understanding and wisdom to apply it.”

In his TED talk, Asner illustrates how data acquired from hyperspectral and lidar instruments on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory can be used to generate kaleidoscopic 3D maps of natural ecosystems in unprecedented detail. These maps, which define data layers such as the biodiversity landscape and carbon geography, provide crucial knowledge that is necessary to make more informed conservations decisions.

Greg Asner: Ecology from the air (13:50)

For more information on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory: http://cao.stanford.edu/

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Conservation Remote Sensing – Inviting you to get involved

Blue MarbleThe Conservation Remote Sensing Working Group (CRSWG) is extending an open invitation to join their growing community and participate in advancing conservation efforts through remote sensing.

Are you passionate about conservation? Are you experienced in remote sensing? Do you have ideas on how remote sensing and geospatial data can be better incorporated into conservation management and planning? Have you developed a new image analysis tool that will benefit the conservation community? If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these questions, then the CRWSG is interested in your input.

The mission of CRSWG is “to increase conservation effectiveness through enhanced integration of remote sensing technologies in research and applications.” Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Rose from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the CRSWG focuses on four key themes that are critical for fostering effective conservation:

Research and Collaboration – “Greater collaboration amongst remote sensing scientists and practitioners will create a critical link between the novel and visionary work of remote sensing scientists and the on-the-ground experience of conservation practitioners.”

Capacity Development – Improved education and awareness “will allow conservationists around the globe to broaden their understanding of applied remote sensing, gain skill sets needed for finding, processing and analyzing remotely sensed data and associated products, and develop an understanding of remote sensing that allows them to integrate remote sensing into conservation.”

Best Practices – “A series of standards and recommendations” are needed “for the best use of remote sensing for conservation applications…, focusing on data collection, generation and integration, validation, models and remote sensing-derived products, as well as application of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Communications – “The goal is to curate and share critical information, both inward, to the conservation remote sensing community, and outward, communicating to the broader conservation community and others who may be interested in the applications of remote sensing for conservation.”

To learn more, or better yet to join the group, just follow this link, or visit Google Groups and search for “Conservation Remote Sensing”, and then select “Apply to join group”.

HySpeed Computing is participating in this community and encourages you to add your voice to the discussion.

Highlights from VISualize 2013 – Connecting the remote sensing community

VISualize 2013 is an annual conference hosted by Exelis Visual Information Solutions, and co-sponsored by HySpeed Computing, that brings together thought leaders in the geosciences to discuss the latest trends in remote sensing. The focus this year was on “Connecting the Community to Discuss Global Change and Environmental Monitoring.”

With more than 20 presentations and ample discussion throughout, it was an insightful and very informative conference. Some highlights from VISualize 2013 include:

  • Jim Irons (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) presented a summary of the Landsat 8 mission, including details on data distribution, sensor specifications, measurement capabilities, and new band designations. He also noted that responsibility for the instrument was officially shifted from NASA to USGS on 30 May 2013, signifying completion of all on-orbit checkouts and the initiation of public data dissemination. Currently more than 20,000 images are already available for users to download.
  • Mark Braza (U.S. Government Accountability Office) described the use of propensity score analysis to estimate the effectiveness of land conservation programs. The approach utilizes statistical analysis to identify control groups from amongst land areas associated with, but not included in, established conservation projects, and then leverages these control areas as a means to assess the relative impact of land conservation efforts.
  • Nasser Olwero and Charles Huang (World Wildlife Fund) summarized objectives of the Global Impact Award that WWF recently received from Google. In this project WWF will be using state-of-the-art technology, specifically animal tracking tags, analytical software that optimizes ranger patrolling, and airborne remote sensing, to reduce the impact of animal poaching and protect valuable species like elephants, rhinos and tigers.
  • Matthew Ramspott (Frostburg State University) presented findings from a study using Landsat data to assess wetland change along the Louisiana coast. A key aspect of the analysis was the methodology used to automatically delineate the land/water interface. Results demonstrate the value of using remote sensing to monitor long-term change in coastal wetlands and assess impact from storm damage, flood management decisions and rising sea levels.
  • Robert Rose (Wildlife Conservation Society) outlined the top 10 conservation challenges that can be addressed using remote sensing. The list of challenges result from a NASA funded workshop in early 2013, and are defined according to 10 general themes: species distribution and abundance; species movement and life stages; ecosystem properties and processes; climate change; fast response; protected areas; ecosystem services; conservation effectiveness; land cover change and agricultural expansion; and degradation and disturbance regime. In each theme the objective is to focus on achievable conservation outcomes with clear pathways for putting technology into practice.
  • Robert Rose also spoke about the revitalization of the Conservation Remote Sensing Working Group (CRSWG), which aims to encourage discussion around four main topic areas: research and collaboration; capacity development; communications; and best practices. To join the conversation, just look for CRSWG on Google Groups and contact the group admin to get involved.

Interested in more information on these and other speakers? Exelis VIS will soon be posting copies of all the VISualize 2013 presentations to their website. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again next year at VISualize 2014.

World Wildlife FundAs thanks to WWF for opening its doors to VISualize, Exelis VIS and HySpeed Computing proudly contributed donations to WWF on behalf of the speakers. Pictured from left to right: Matt Hallas (Exelis VIS), Nasser Olwero (WWF), Charles Huang (WWF) and James Goodman (HySpeed Computing).