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FEATURE REMOTE SENSING


Lidar sheds light on ocean health


Andy Extance finds the pains and gains of laser light’s different behaviour in water for oceanographers using lidar


P


hytoplankton play a key role in ocean ecosystems, and so monitoring these tiny marine plants enable researchers to


answer key questions about ocean health. Lidar’s potential as a tool to study oceans


has ‘huge implications’ for many research areas, according to Jennifer Schulien, who is helping drive the field forward. Having recently finished a postdoctoral


fellowship at Oregon State University, she worked as part of the first research team to use Nasa’s high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) to measure plankton abundance and production. HSRL’s laser can penetrate deeper into water to return more information than traditional remote sensing methods, which are based on ocean colour and only measure what is happening at the ocean’s surface.


The absence of depth information limits


the ability to make predictions, explained Brian Collister, a PhD student in Richard Zimmerman’s team at Old Dominion University, Virginia. Oceanographic lidar remotely measures the depth of plankton and suspended mineral particles.


12 Electro Optics June 2021


A lidar system installed on the FG Walton Smith for a research expedition that crossed the Gulf Stream and Bahamas Bank


@electrooptics | www.electrooptics.com


Old Dominion University


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