Integrating studies of the Earth with those of the atmosphere and beyond, the Environmental Remote Sensing Center (ERSC) recently joined the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School.
Environmental remote sensing is a science that utilizes data and imagery of the Earth's land and water collected from satellites and aircraft, along with field measurements to monitor and map environmental systems. ERSC uses these technologies to explore the Earth in various ways, including: mapping tornado damage tracks; monitoring algal blooms in lakes; mapping wetlands; quantifying urban sprawl; assessing agricultural land use; and supporting environmental management, transportation planning, and emergency management.
Supported by NASA, the latest ERSC initiative involves studying and monitoring water levels and biophysical conditions in large lakes around the world with data from a variety of satellite-based instruments.
In addition to research activities, ERSC also engages the public through education and outreach programs. Among these efforts are "WisconsinView," a remote sensing data distribution and education consortium funded by the U.S. Geological Survey; and the "MapTEACH" geospatial education and outreach project in Alaska, funded through a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation.
Combining the ERSC aerial photo and satellite imagery archives with the extensive global weather satellite holdings of the SSEC Data Center will enrich what is already recognized as one of the premiere remote sensing digital libraries in the world, says Steve Ventura, ERSC interim director.
The inclusion of ERSC in SSEC facilitates unique opportunities to study interactions between the Earth and its atmosphere. SSEC is a research and development center with primary focus on geophysical research and technology to enhance understanding of the atmosphere of Earth, the other planets in our solar system, and the cosmos.
A collaborative pilot study has already resulted in new techniques for displaying real-time weather data in geographic mapping applications. Working together across the disciplines creates new avenues for advancing understanding of our Earth and its systems.
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