About 15 days lasted the summer course “Training in satellite remote sensing data of the Cornell University,” a course developed in New York, United States, from the Faculty of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences, in which the student Carlos Lara participated. Carlos is currently finishing his doctoral thesis of the doctorate Program in Applied Biology and Ecology of the Universidad de La Serena and the Universidad Católica del Norte, the Region of Coquimbo.
Emerging technologies have allowed to advance and support the development of scientific research in different areas of study. In this context, the satellites have become an important and useful tool for the natural sciences, promoting new forms of observation of the environment through processes that allow to obtain highly accurate data.
Supported by Dr. Bernardo Broitman, researcher of the scientific center CEAZA and deputy director of the Millennium Nucleus MUSELS, Carlos, is developing a work that seeks to validate of satellite data, specifically data ocean color (chlorophyll) and surface ocean temperature of the coastal systems in the regions of Coquimbo and Los Lagos (Tongoy Bay and inland sea of Chiloe, respectively).
“I’m working with a satellite (MODIS) and observing how their data are related with the measurements made in the field. Then I have data in situ (Chiloé from 2003 to 2015 and Coquimbo from 2013 approx.) and of the satellite, in order to validate the data of the latter with respect to those data obtained in the field, “Lara said.
The advisor of the thesis indicates that “when countries begin to develop, they usually give ‘technological leap’ adopting, modifying and innovating existing technologies. In the case of satellites, they become tools especially important for territories like ours, where the geographical or climatic conditions make difficult the periodic arrival of researcher to different places. “
According to Lara, the validation of the data provided by satellites could allow a better and permanent observation of the ocean, for example, for scientific studies. “When it is necessary to take samples in the ocean, especially in some regions of our country, this activity will be subject to the prevailing climatic conditions. Often, field activities are organized once a month to see for example, the primary productivity conditions, but this is sometimes affected by the circumstances of the moment. “
Dr. Broitman indicates, that these instruments are now or are perceived the reach of everyone, but the handling of the data obtained there, it is a job that few people realize. Hence the importance of the participation of students in improving the use and analysis of satellite data.
“The internship that Carlos attended incorporates the strongest groups in the world in the research and development of satellite sensors for the sea. This improvement will allow improve our understanding of the dynamics of the ocean and its inhabitants in the coastal area, which is very difficult to study on large spatial scales, with high resolution and for long periods of time” says the researcher.
In this context the student says that “before this course, I worked at a spatial and temporal resolution of 4km and 8 days, respectively. With the course, now I can work at full resolution, with daily data and at 1 km “and adds that” this training will help me to advance in the understanding of the complexity of the ecosystems and assimilate the time and space simultaneously” .
The advisor says that “this internship validates the work we have developed from Coquimbo with two of the strongest research groups in the world in this area of the knowledge. It also allowed Carlos acquire new tools, which he can then teach. “
“As advisor, it is especially important because ad portas of completing his Ph.D., the student surpassed to the teacher, which is a very good result. On the other hand, is very good for the international projection of CEAZA and of the Doctorate Program to have students in these activities, they are our academic ambassadors and hopefully more students are motivate with challenges like this, “he says.
Benefits of the satellite in the science
Chile needs more knowledge related to the coastal oceanography, since it is one of the important areas of the national economy. However, this has not been well developed, because the scale of the problems, for example certain natural phenomena would not be visible if you do not work at different scales of time and space.
Currently the country has no projects capable of making measurements in the ocean that have high spatial and temporal resolution and that are maintained over time. There are only good studies of the coastal system for the annual cycles, but not enough synoptic information (ie, shorter events), for example cycles of upwellings that last for days to weeks and extend for hundreds of kilometers. “This is very difficult to study with ships, but you can follow it with satellites,” says Broitman.
“The analysis of some oceanographic variables using satellite products allows to understand oceanographic dynamics in time and space scales ecologically relevant. This capability is important to understand effects (direct or indirect) of the climate variability on spatio-temporal fluctuations of the biological response of the coastal ocean, “said Carlos Lara.
Further states that “data obtained through these satellites will improve the understanding of the processes and dynamics marine-coastal, which have a direct input on the activities associated with aquaculture (eg. Scallop in northern Chile)”.
In addition Carlos says that these data will help to determine biomass, to studies on biodiversity and climate change, among other contributions.