Remote Sensing in the Bay
A new report on remote sensing in estuaries will be available in September from Maryland Sea Grant and the Chesapeake Bay Program's Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). The result of a workshop held in Annapolis, Maryland, the report is entitled, Estuarine and Watershed Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Technology: Present Status and Future Trends. The 48-page summary examines the varying technologies that have made modern remote sensing possible, and recommends ways to better integrate and make use of data from these new methods.
The report notes that much has happened since a 1977 conference sponsored by NASA, EPA and the University of Maryland and entitled "Applications of Remote Sensing to the Chesapeake Bay Region." At that conference Senator Charles "Mac" Mathias warned the participants that the Chesapeake Bay was in danger of becoming a "dead sea" if we did not better understand and protect it. Now, more than 25 years later, we do know much more about how the Bay works and what factors most threaten its health.
Researchers and managers participating in the Annapolis workshop explored recent and ongoing efforts in remote sensing and how they fit into the current effort to monitor and model conditions in the Chesapeake. They concluded that for remote sensing data to be useful in the Bay region researchers and managers alike must work to integrate highly resolved data from buoys, towed instruments, aircraft and satellites with data from more traditional sources.
Also important, the report notes, is better use of satellite images such as NASA's Landsat earth-imaging system for monitoring the Bay's watershed, as well as better ways of using new technologies to examine and predict changes in wetlands.
The report notes that aircraft and satellite-borne sensors can monitor areas of the Bay that are otherwise under-studied, and points out that given current conditions - such as overabundant algae, increased turbidity and the depletion of oxygen - remote sensed data can help provide diagnostic tools critical for defining what will constitute a "restored" Bay.
The report will be available as a pdf on the Maryland Sea Grant web site at www.mdsg.umd.edu/CB/remote_sensing.html.