Capstone Title

Remote Sensing Use in Coastal Zone Management: With Emphasis on Identification of Nearshore Hardbottom Communities and Sensitive Marine Communities

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

Stacy Myers

Third Advisor

Bart J. Baca


Coastal zone management, as it relates to the identification of nearshore hardbottom communities and sensitive marine communities utilizing remote sensing, is discussed.

Utilizing special camera platforms and remote sensing equipment to record electromagnetic impulses or images on film, observers can acquire information about marine ecosystems as well as urban growth and other phenomena. Remote sensing applications go beyond detecting the electromagnetic impulses in the visible light spectrum.

Non-visible electromagnetic energy like radio waves are important for acquiring remotely sensed information because one of the major shortcomings of remote sensing i n the visible spectrum is interference from clouds, dust, fog, haze, and darkness or lack of visible light.

The tools used for all remote sensing applications include passive sensing devices that utilize the Sun's energy (i.e., cameras) and active sensing devices that produce a signal or sound and identify objects from the returned signal (i.e., RADAR) .

All the equipment used for environmental remote sensing requires a platform from which it does its work. Platforms include ground observation platforms, airborne platforms, and satellites. Some satellites and sensors are designed specifically for marine applications. Researchers are able to gather remotely sensed information about marine communities, interpret that information, and display the results using Geographical Information Systems.

Coral reefs and seagrass beds are good sources of information about the ecological health of a benthic ecosystem. Monitoring them presents several challenges for researchers because of the difficulty of water penetration by electromagnetic energy. Water does not lend itself easily to remote sensing because it absorbs almost all electromagnetic wavelengths over 700nm.

Researchers are continuously finding new ways to make water penetration easier. Improving sensor sensitivity, reducing pixel sizes, and creating better algorithms are likely some of the keys to accurate remote sensing signature identification in the future.

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