Finalists: 2013 Student Essay Contest on ‘Science Technology for Observing Earth’s Climate’

EarthzineAnnouncements, Essay Contest 2013, Original

*For judging purposes, we will announcing the winners later than planned, on Nov. 17.

Student authors from around the globe contributed submissions to Earthzine’s 2013 Student Essay Contest on the subject of “Science Technology for Observing Earth’s Climate.”

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges that evaluated the quality and contribution of the submissions. The selected essays report on experiences, opinions and research by the authors. The technologies covered in the essays include remote sensing, “big data,” Geographic Information Systems, and public participation approaches.

We are now entering a second round of judging that includes a blog discussion between Earthzine readers and the authors. We invite you to get involved, post your questions to the authors and enter into the discussion. The five selected essays are presented below. You can comment and discuss each submission at the bottom of each essay page.

The blogging (discussion) portion of this competition will continue through Oct. 31. Winners are to be announced Nov. 5  Nov. 17.  Again, thanks to our sponsors, Northrop Grumman, who have contributed $1,500 (U.S.) in prizes, to be awarded to the top entry or entries.

big data

big data

The Atmospheric Science Data Center (ASDC) at NASA Langley Research Center is responsible for the ingestion, archiving, and distribution of NASA Earth Science data in the areas of radiation budget, clouds, aerosols, and tropospheric chemistry. The ASDC specializes in atmospheric data that is important to understanding the causes and processes of global climate change and the consequences of human activities on the climate.

By Emily Northup, posted on October 18th, 2013 in Essay Contest 2013

The Time to Start Building a Live Global Resource Inventory is Now

essay 2 picOne of the factors that led to enlightenment and the transformation of European nations from feudal societies to industrialized market economies was the standardization of the bushel size. The bushel was used as an instrument of exploitation by the feudal class. Nobody knew exactly how much a bushel was. Sometimes it was filled up to the brim, sometimes a lot more. Bushels of similar volume but greater base area would contain even more wheat when filled, compared to bushels with smaller base areas. The actual bushel size depended entirely on the whim of the feudal buyer and was used to subtly control prices. Standardization in bushel size was one of the peasant’s earlier demands and it freed them from a sort of economic slavery. And what was bushel size but information; the awareness of a certain fact that a critical mass of humanity seemed to agree on.

By Fouad Khan , posted on October 18th, 2013 in Essay Contest 2013

Public Participation in Remote Sensing (PPRS): Integration of Local Knowledge and Technology-Based Surface Temperature Change Monitoring


Expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia has contributed to a total forest loss of about 8 million hectares over the past 25 years. This expansion is attributable to the conversion of primary, secondary, or log forests. It is well-understood that land-cover changes influence the surface temperature on local, regional, and global scales.

By Fatwa Ramdani , posted on October 18th, 2013 in Essay Contest 2013

essay 2

essay 2

Publication Without Representation: How Improving Satellite Data Dissemination Can Democratize and Advance Earth Science

The lone genius and mad scientist are archetypes that define scientists in popular culture. In reality, scientists are international and interdisciplinary; we are at our best when synergizing individual talent. Easy access to data makes these collaborations possible. Earth science is well within the “fourth paradigm” of research: an era driven by data, not equipment. However, there are still challenges to data availability.

By Rebekah Esmaili , posted on October 18th, 2013 in Essay Contest 2013

The Power of Spatial Information is its Tangibility

essay 3

We live in an era of increasing interdisciplinary connectivity on every front, especially in the field of science and remote imagery. Where only specialists once understood disparate pieces of information, Earth science technology promises to reveal complex patterns underlying many natural and manmade phenomena. It is now possible to use the international constellation of satellites orbiting Earth to view our planet as one interconnected system.

By Sara LaFia , posted on October 18th, 2013 in Essay Contest 2013