Remote Sensing of Coastal Ecosystems [Introductory]

Key Info
Description - a brief synopsis, abstract or summary of what the learning resource is about: 
Coastal and marine ecosystems serve key roles for carbon storage, nutrients, and materials cycling, as well as reservoirs of biodiversity. They also provide ecosystem services such as sustenance for millions of people, coastal protection against wave action, and recreational activities. Remote sensing of coastal and marine ecosystems is particularly challenging. Up to 90% of the signal received by the sensors in orbit comes from the atmosphere. Additionally, dissolved and suspended constituents in the water column attenuate most of the light received through absorption or scattering. When it comes to retrieving information about shallow-water ecosystems, even in the clearest waters under the clearest skies, less than 10% of the signal originates from the water and its bottom surface. Users, particularly those with little remote sensing experience, stand to benefit from this training covering some of the difficulties associated with remote sensing of coastal ecosystems, particularly beaches and benthic communities such as coral reefs and seagrass.

by the end of this training, attendees will be able to:

  • Identify the different water column components and how they affect the remote sensing signal of shallow-water ecosystems
  • Outline existing satellite sensors used for ocean color and shallow-water ecosystem characterization
  • Understand the interaction between water constituents, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the remote sensing signal
  • Recognize the different processes used to remove the water column attenuation from the remotely-sensed signal to characterize benthic components
  • Summarize techniques for characterizing shoreline beach environments with remotely-sensed data and field methods for beach profiling
  • Three one-hour sessions with presentations in English and Spanish
  • One Google Form homework
  • Spanish sessions 
Part One: Overview of Coastal Ecosystems and Remote Sensing
  • Introduction to coastal and marine ecosystems
  • Overview of sensors for remote sensing of coastal areas
  • Q&A
Part Two: Penetration of Light in the Water Column
  • Apparent and inherent optical properties 
  • Field bio-optical measurements 
  • Water column corrections 
  • Deriving bathymetry and benthic characterization from multispectral data 
  • Validation and calibration of ocean color data 
  • Q&A
Part Three: Remote Sensing of Shorelines
  • Geophysical components of shorelines 
  • The parts of a beach 
  • Field-based measurements in shorelines for image validation 
  • Image processing and analysis for shoreline characterization 
  • Q&A
Each part of 3 includes links to the recordings, presentation slides,  and Question & Answer Transcripts. 
Authoring Person(s) Name: 
Juan Torres-Perez
Amber McCullum
Authoring Organization(s) Name: 
NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET)
License - link to legal statement specifying the copyright status of the learning resource: 
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic - CC BY 2.0
Access Cost: 
No fee
Primary language(s) in which the learning resource was originally published or made available: 
Also available in - other languages in which the learning resource has been translated or made available other than the primary: 
More info about
Keywords - short phrases describing what the learning resource is about: 
Biodiversity data
Coastal data
Environmental management
Marine data
Remote sensing
Satellite imagery
Subject Discipline - subject domain(s) toward which the learning resource is targeted: 
Education: Science and Mathematics Education
Physical Sciences and Mathematics: Earth Sciences
Physical Sciences and Mathematics: Environmental Sciences
Published / Broadcast: 
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Publisher - organization credited with publishing or broadcasting the learning resource: 
NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET)
Media Type - designation of the form in which the content of the learning resource is represented, e.g., moving image: 
Presentation - representation of the particular way in which an author shows, describes or explains one or more concepts, e.g., a set of Powerpoint slides.
Contact Person(s): 
Brock Blevins
Contact Organization(s): 
NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET)
Educational Info
Purpose - primary educational reason for which the learning resource was created: 
Professional Development - increasing knowledge and capabilities related to managing the data produced, used or re-used, curated and/or archived.
Learning Resource Type - category of the learning resource from the point of view of a professional educator: 
Lesson - detailed description of an element of instruction in a course, [could be] contained in a unit of one or more lessons, and used by a teacher to guide class instruction. Example: presentation slides on a topic.
Target Audience - intended audience for which the learning resource was created: 
Citizen scientist
Data manager
Data policymaker
Early-career research scientist
Graduate student
Mid-career research scientist
Research scientist
Technology expert group
Undergraduate student
Intended time to complete - approximate amount of time the average student will take to complete the learning resource: 
More than 1 hour (but less than 1 day)