Earthzine Hosts Second NASA DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Awards Prize for Best Overall Project Engagement

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources and DEVELOP

Image courtesy Tracey Silcox, SSAI/NASA DEVELOP

The results are in. The winning team in Earthzine’s second virtual poster session is a poster presented by the DEVELOP team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on the presence of hazardous pollution in Los Angeles.

The winning DEVELOP team of Katrina Laygo, Asya Hollins and Caitlin Kontgis was chosen from 22 posters in the summer session based on comments and dialogue, as judged by a panel of scientists. The team spent its summer using satellite data to track small pollution particles in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The JPL team concluded that downtown and South Central Los Angeles are exposed to high levels of these particles and are home to populations that are more at risk for suffering from detrimental health impacts.

“The JPL team made a professional, quality presentation,” said Gary Gibson, one of the judges and deputy director of the Science Directorate at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “They captured the viewers’ attention with well-chosen soundtracks and dramatic video clips, and they built on that by telling an engaging, well-narrated story. You could sense the dedication and excitement of the team.”

The three winning team members will share a prize totaling $450.

Three runners-up also were chosen by the judges, and will receive certificates and Earthzine T-shirts:

• 1st runner up: Hyperspectral Mapping of Invasive Species in the San Francisco South Bay Salt Ponds, Ames Research Center;

• 2nd runner up: Connecting Environmental Observations with Cholera Outbreaks in Bangladesh, Goddard Space Flight Center;

• 3rd runner up: Spaceborne Sensors Track Marine Debris Circulation in the Gulf of Mexico, Stennis Space Center.

Sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Applied Sciences Program, DEVELOP mentors today’s young professionals in preparation for careers as tomorrow’s scientists and leaders. For more information about DEVELOP, including applications, visit

Earthzine’s first DEVELOP virtual poster session was held in the spring of 2011.


Using NASA Earth Observations to Enhance Public Health Tracking of Particle Exposure and Extreme Heat in Los Angeles

Landsat Thematic Mapper Suitability Analysis Map of 2010 US Census Tract-Level Regions in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. The black circles depict the 13 EPA ground measurement stations with data that we assessed in developing a linear regression model. This was accomplished using NASA’s Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) Level 1 Radiance Measurements as a predictor of ground-based particulate matter 2.5 measurements, based on MISR and EPA data from 2009.Will remote sensing play a greater role in addressing public health issues in the near future? DEVELOP students at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory analyze how NASA’s MISR data aboard the Terra satellite may assist in predicting ground-based air pollution in Los Angeles, California, and how Landsat 5’s Thematic Mapper can be used to map communities of vulnerability when linked to certain demographic factors.

JPL DEVELOP Team , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

2nd Runner Up

Connecting Environmental Observations with Cholera Outbreaks in Bangladesh

This image shows the navigation bar, NASA MODIS/Aqua chlorophyll-a satellite imagery, and point data for January 2005 in the Bay of Bengal near Bangladesh. A python program was written by the NASA GSFC DEVELOP Cholera team to create this interactive Google Earth map. Source: NASA GSFC OceanColor.How do environmental factors impact the outbreak of cholera in developing countries? DEVELOP interns at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are connecting satellite observations with ground and clinical data which will lead to the development of an early warning system for outbreaks.

Goddard DEVELOP Team 3 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session



1st Runner Up

Hyperspectral Mapping of Invasive Species in the San Francisco South Bay Salt Ponds

Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) classification using a NASA EO-1 Hyperion scene of the Alviso Salt Pond Complex in the South San Francisco Bay, California. In-situ spectra were derived from the hand-held GER 1500 spectroradiometer during a summer 2011 field campaign, and then applied to the EO-1 scene from July 2011 using the SAM algorithm. The red areas show the pixel reflectances that have the highest probability of spectral similarity to pepperweed.How can a NASA hyperspectral sensor and a habitat suitability model be combined to map invasive species?

Ames DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

3rd Runner Up

Spaceborne Sensors Track Marine Debris Circulation in the Gulf of Mexico

Using geostrophic velocity of currents calculated from sea surface height data, we performed a 60-day backtracking analysis of marine debris for each day of January 2010. The top image shows initial placement of marine debris particles near the coast of Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, during the analysis. The bottom image indicates likely source areas of marine debris based on the backtracking analysis. Source: Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.Marine debris washes upon the shores of Padre Island National Seashore, threatening endangered species’ habitat and public safety. Analyzing surface circulation patterns in the Gulf of Mexico using altimeter data will aid NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the Padre Island National Seashore by providing them with a methodology for predicting marine debris trajectories.

Stennis DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Comparing Rainfall Observations in Hurricanes

NEXRAD WSR-88D estimated precipitation accumulation for Mobile, Alabama, area during Hurricane Gustav on Sept. 1, 2008. Source: NOAA National Climatic Data Center.Each year, tropical storms impact the Gulf Coast, bringing strong winds, high surf, and torrential downpours. The Mobile DEVELOP team has partnered with the Center for Hurricane Intensity and Landfall Investigation (CHILI) to study and compare different precipitation observations.

Mobile County DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session



Monitoring Agricultural Tillage Practices with NASA Hyperspectral Satellite Imagery

This image shows tillage classification derived from the Cellulose Absorption Index, which indicates crop residue. The accuracy of the classification distinguishing conventional tillage and conservation tillage was about 80%, and comparable to the accuracy of current monitoring methods. Ground data was obtained from Dr. Craig Daughtry, a research agronomist with the USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, from the same area shown within the bounds of the NASA Hyperion satellite swath above.How can NASA Earth observations help monitor the way farmers till their fields? In the wake of climate change and greenhouse gas levels increasing in the atmosphere, monitoring tilling practices has become increasingly important. Conventional tillage creates a carbon source, while conservation tillage creates a carbon sink. The need for an efficient and effective means of delineating fields prepared by conservation tillage calls for methodologies using remote sensing.

Langley DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

NASA Sensors used to Analyze Patterns of Change along the California Coast

Three variables shown above were used to predict the succession of California redwood forests and include: Minimum temperature change, maximum temperature change, and precipitation change. These variables are important as input to statistical models for predicting succession and encroachment of vegetation types into redwood forests. Data are overlaid on a Landsat TM5 supervised classification from July 2011. All climate datasets were obtained from the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University.The California Coast is changing. Find out what the NASA Ames Ecological Forecasting Team is doing to study these changes.

Ames DEVELOP Team 3 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session



Detecting Floods in Greensboro, Maryland

Satellite image showing flood detection in MarylandIs it possible to forecast natural disasters such as flooding? DEVELOP students at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are implementing high-resolution geographic data into a hydrological model to simulate precipitation in the Choptank Watershed to aid in flood mitigation.

Goddard DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Investigating Spawning and Feeding Habits of the Invasive Asian Carp Using Remote Sensing and GIS

Asian carp are opportunistic feeders and eat phytoplankton and algae. The USGS has been conducting studies into feeding habits of Asian carp, and was interested in knowing blue-green algae concentrations in Lake Michigan. Source: NASA.Blue-green algae is a potential food source for Asian carp in the Great Lakes, and was investigated by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative DEVELOP team using remote sensing techniques to analyze NASA MODIS data in the SeaDAS processing program. In addition, a risk assessment of streams accessible for spawning was conducted.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Detecting and Monitoring Algal Blooms through NASA Remote Sensing

Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) image of an algal bloom in the Potomac River during May 2000, from the NASA and USGS Landsat 4-5 Thematic Mapper (TM) satellites.Harmful algal blooms impact coastlines all over the world. How can NASA satellites be used to aid in the discovery and monitoring of algal blooms in oceans and lakes? This project reviewed methodologies using NASA Earth observations to detect and monitor algal blooms, and studied the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of algal blooms.

Langley DEVELOP Team 3 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Utilization of Remote Sensing and Atmospheric Modeling to Determine Dynamics of 2010 Russian Forest Fires

A burn scar image over the Nizhny Novgorod region in western Russia taken on Oct. 8, 2010. Areas in red denote burned land area. This image was generated by compositing bands 7, 4, and 2 of NASA and USGS Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper+ data.How can NASA EOS be used to enhance the study of wildfires and poor air quality around the globe? In 2010, Western Russia experienced a series of severe and sustained forest fires. The use of several NASA technologies allowed for an analysis of meteorological conditions, land scarring, and air quality to better understand the impacts of this disaster. Methods from this study can be applied to future fire prediction, analysis, and other global concerns.

Langley DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

NASA Satellites Detect Changes in California’s Central Valley Groundwater

Change in groundwater elevation for the Sacramento hydrological region, in the Central Valley, California. Groundwater elevations were derived from in-situ well-data collected beginning in 2003 by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). This map displays the changes in groundwater elevation from 2003-2009 derived from the collection of these in-situ measurements. Green areas show groundwater elevation gain and red areas show groundwater elevation loss during this time period.How can NASA satellites assist in analyzing groundwater changes? The Ames DEVELOP water resources team has used GRACE satellite data to help California’s water managers detect groundwater changes.

Ames DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session


Tracking the Effects of Forest Fragmentation on Biodiversity from Space

This map of the Baltimore, Maryland – Washington, D.C., corridor shows forest cover lost from 2001 to 2009. The regions in red are where forest was present in 2001 but absent in 2009. The map was produced using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Level 3 Yearly Land Cover Type Data.Can NASA remote sensing technologies along with citizen science be used to track and correlate biodiversity changes with urban induced forest fragmentation? The Baltimore-Washington Ecology Team at NASA Langley Research Center worked to statistically measure the impact of urban expansion in the Baltimore, Maryland-Washington, D.C. corridor.

Langley DEVELOP Team 4 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Satellite Analysis of Sea Surface Temperatures in the Florida Keys to Monitor Coral Reef Health

This image was created using sea surface temperature measurements from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard the Terra satellite. The color bar indicates average sea surface temperature in degrees Celsius for January 2005, centered on the Florida Keys region.Sea surface temperatures are rising due to climate change, and are a contributing factor in the decline of coral reef health. Using satellite sea surface temperature data, this project aims to enhance current management practices and focus conservation efforts on vulnerable areas in the Florida Keys.

Stennis DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Mapping Aquatic Vegetation on Lake Victoria

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery depicting Lake Victoria normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) extraction before (left) and after (right). The left shows an unprocessed satellite image, while the NDVI image is shown on the right, depicting aquatic vegetation in green. Bright green areas indicate dense aquatic vegetation. Source: USGS.Invasive aquatic vegetation has been a serious issue in Lake Victoria over the past decade, hindering transportation as well as a profitable fishing industry. Remote sensing was used to map the spatial extent of aquatic vegetation on the surface of Lake Victoria as well as create time series animations to show growth and movement of the vegetation. Our results will be used by SERVIR and the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization to conduct operational satellite-based surveillance and to protect local fisheries.

Mobile County DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

NASA Earth Observation System Helps Restore the Threatened Plumleaf Azalea

The MSFC DEVELOP team collected its own field data using a Trimble JunoSB data logger and located 540 plumleaf azaleas within the Providence Canyon Conservation Park in Georgia. Relationships between in-situ data points were analyzed through a geospatial technique of Ordinary Kriging, which uses a linear combination of weights at known points to estimate the value at unknown points. Plumleaf azaleas were found predominantly around the canyons which are located in the Northeast quadrant of the park.Can satellite data be used to help restore the threatened plumleaf azalea? DEVELOP students at Marshall Space Flight Center mapped current distribution of the plumleaf azalea in Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area and analyzed satellite images to help identify potential restoration sites.

Marshall DEVELOP Team 2 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Seeing the Clouds with CALIPSO: Trajectory Modeling and LiDAR Visualization Tools

The CALIPSO DEVELOP team at NASA’s Langley Research Center developed a tool that could aid in the interpretation of CALIPSO data for researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The LIDAR Graphical User Interface pictured above allows users to interactively select atmospheric features of a NASA CALIPSO Browse Image.Students automated a set of antiquated Fortran programs that seek to identify the source of air containing aerosols or producing clouds through the computation of back and forward trajectories. Through scripting and code development, an integrated package was developed, including a set of diagnostic diagrams and plots at the end of the process.

Langley DEVELOP Team 7 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session


Satellites Assist in the Fight to Preserve the Biodiversity of the Cahaba River in Central Alabama

A Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) algorithm was used to calculate the vegetation density across the Cahaba River Watershed from a Landsat 5 TM satellite image taken in June 2006.Can satellite data help restore biodiversity? DEVELOP students at Marshall Space Flight Center analyzed satellite images to study the link between landscape changes and water quality by measuring vegetation within Cahaba River Watershed, and how it relates to biodiversity.

Marshall DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session


Inside the HIVE (Highly-portable Immersive Virtual Environment)

Screen shot from the HIVE’s (Highly-portable Immersive Virtual Environment) test of the Unity Graphics Engine. This picture is from a view on top of the Himalayas, created using NASA satellite images of Earth and elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.Can natural disasters be tracked in a 3D environment? In addition to the continuous improvement of the HIVE, the Langley HIVE team produced two new visuals capable of near-real-time tracking and display of fires and earthquakes.

Langley DEVELOP Team 8 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

NASA Earth Observations Investigate the Impact of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps were created from NASA and USGS Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper + (left) and Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper images (right). They were used to show loss of vegetation along the coast of Miyagi, Japan, an area severely impacted by the tsunami.How can NASA Earth observations be applied to natural disasters around the globe? This project investigated the capabilities of NASA satellite imagery in the creation of enhanced visualizations for improved decision support using the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami as a case study.

Langley DEVELOP Team 6 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Implementing NASA Remote Sensing to Protect and Monitor our Waterways

Graphs showing a Material of Interest (MOI) classification overlay on a thermal profile of pumice rafts in two different locations. Red indicates a high concentration of pumice while black indicates the absence of pumice. The pumice raft in Argentina shows a negative temperature anomaly where the pumice is cooler than the surrounding water, whereas the raft in Tonga shows a positive temperature anomaly where the pumice is warmer than the surrounding water. The NASA and USGS Landsat 7 images show the location of the cross sections that were used to measure the temperature.A little-known danger lurks in the world’s oceans and waterways: Seemingly innocuous pumice rafts, a byproduct of volcanic eruptions, pose a hazard to maritime operations. DEVELOP students at NASA Langley Research Center investigate new uses of Earth Observation Systems to identify pumice rafts and promote safe travel around the globe.

Langley DEVELOP Team 5 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session


NASA Earth Observations Assist in Invasive Species Forecasting

Predicted distribution of wavyleaf basketgrass in Maryland and surrounding states. Areas most suitable for the grass are indicated by warm colors and areas less suitable are indicated by cool colors. White markers represent input presence points. Source: ???Can satellite observational data be used to forecast the spread of an invasive grass? DEVELOP students at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are creating habitat suitability maps to aid in the mitigation of wavyleaf basketgrass in Maryland and Virginia.

Goddard DEVELOP Team 1 , posted on August 10th, 2011
DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

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