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Workshops bring remote sensing down to Earth

There were plenty of ‘wow’ moments for those taking part in the Perth and Melbourne workshops on Visible and Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite-mounted sensing, and an excited sense among the Australian remote-sensing community of the ways in which the technology will expand their work.

The workshops were lectures and laboratory exercises that introduced the participants to the tools they need to receive, display and analyse VIIRS satellite data, and to understand their use in environmental monitoring.

One of the wow factors was VIIRS itself – a considerable advance in finely detailed and precise images of various interactions happening in the Earth’s atmosphere, for example global storm patterns and regional fires. It so impressed participating organisations that several satellite-data-processing centres in Australia intend to use the beta-release of VIIRS community satellite processing package (CSPP) as soon as it is available.

Another was the team that presented the workshops: Professor Paul Menzel, Dr Geoff Cureton and Mr Liam Gumley, all of whom are from the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin in the USA.

Professor Mervyn Lynch, who organised the workshops on behalf of AusCover and TERN, said the workshops would help AusCover scientists.

‘There were many highlights. Just before our workshops, NASA announced that it had renamed its polar-orbiting satellite mission the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) in honour of the father of satellite meteorology, the late University of Wisconsin Professor Verner Suomi,’ Merv says.

‘Paul Menzel was the first person to occupy the Professor Verner Suomi Chair in Satellite Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, and he has done so with distinction. We could have had no person more appropriate to lecture to us on the satellite instrument that VIIRS is part of, the Suomi NPP. 

‘Liam and Geoff are graduates of the Remote Sensing and Satellite Research Group (RSSRG) at Curtin University. Both now work at the SSEC, where Liam led the development of the International MODIS AIRS Processing Package (IMAPP), which has been widely used internationally. He is now leading the development for US domestic and international communities of direct broadcast software and the CSPP, and he delivered lectures on those at our workshops.

‘We also had lectures on instrument characteristics of VIIRS, spectral bands, and data streams,’ Merv says.

‘These were complemented by HYDRA2 inspection of VIIRS-M (750 m), -I (375 m), and DNB data, which we supplemented with interesting land, ocean, and cloud features. Tom Rink is developing HYDRA2 from McIDAS-V to replace HYDRA1, which was developed for MODIS. We used HYDRA2 to display VIIRS data, collocate comparable MODIS data, investigate transects of scene brightness temperature and reflectance in various spectral bands, and enhance and study features such as fires, ocean currents and moon shadows.’

AusCover and TERN presented the workshops with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and the Western Australian Satellite Technology and Applications Consortium (WASTAC). They were held in February.

Merv said 20 people from the Bureau of Meteorology and 15 others from as far afield as Japan and New Zealand took part via webinar internet conferencing. The workshops covered:

  • fundamentals of radiative transfer in the Earth’s atmosphere
  • spectral signatures from Earth
  • transitioning from MODIS to VIIRS
  • interrogating VIIRS multispectral data
  • the VIIRS product suite covering land, ocean and atmosphere
  • VIIRS direct broadcast (DB) characteristics
  • introducing the CSPP that is being developed at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies and the SSEC
  • demonstrating some VIIRS case studies.

For more information, contact Professor Mervyn Lynch at Curtin University or download workshop presentations from the WASTAC website.

 

Published in TERN e-Newsletter March 2012

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