Category Archives: FORT 230

Remote Sensing Type Study Sites FAll 2015

This fall we are using four sites for the Remote Sensing Type Study Project. We made the first visit on 9/2. Above is a map of the areas visited. During the course of the semester we will look at the sites using different types of remote sensing imagery.

Birch Run Reservoir


This was the old site of the Chambersburg Reservoir. The dam was breached and partially removed in the early 2000’s. Since then there have been a significant number of forest plantings on the site. The stream has undergone significant restoration to improve it as a fishery. The surrounding forest is a mixed hardwood and pine forest. Many old pines can be seen poking through the canopy.

Waynesboro Watershed / Chestnut Planting


This site was previously a private farm. It is part of the Waynesboro Watershed property. It has had many experimental plantings  and treatments over the years. Today most of the site is covered by a loblolly pine plantation and a fenced-in American Chestnut test plantation. There is also a mature white pine planted stand. It is surrounded by a mixed hardwood forest and private homes.

Waynesboro Reservoir


The reservoir is thirty acres in area and extends north of the earthen dam. The northwest side was heavily clearcut in the 1970’s leaving a small strip of trees along the shore, but appears to have largely grown in with a uniform stand of hardwoods. The rest of the site is surrounded by mixed hardwood forests. The grassy covering of the dam and the field below it are unique features within the forest.

Seed Orchard/ Golf Course


This site is one of the most unique parts of the Michaux State Forest. It is the only place where a nine-hole golf course sites next to a seed orchard. The seed orchard contains various tree plantings where the trees have been lopped to make it easier to collect seeds. The golf course contains various kinds of turf. The area around the golf course has been kept in a park-like condition with many pine trees. The entire site is on a plateau at the top of the valley.

Below is this year’s FORT 230 class observing the last site.

Wildfire Smoke

This article, from NPR, describes the bad effects of Wildfire smoke. Smoke is a difficult phenomenon to sense with most remote sensing tools. It changes quickly and may not last long. In many ways it’s like sensing other weather phenomena. Here is a link to an Idaho website that aggregates reports on weather conditions. It uses an embedded Google Map overlain with data.

Happy New Year 2015

I got this image on Facebook showing the western hemisphere. I couldn’t find the web site, but I was able to download  the image. Here is the caption from NASA:

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured this stunning view of the Americas on New Years Day, Jan. 1, 2015 at 14:45 UTC/9:45 a.m. EST. The data from GOES-East was made into an image by the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

GOES satellites provide the kind of continuous monitoring necessary for intensive data analysis. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth. This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on Earth’s surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric “triggers” for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes.

Western Hemisphere on New Year's Day from NASA GOES

And here is a link to the Official GOES image gallery:

Is the color spectrum arbitrary?

The following video from The Atlantic Monthly explains why the ROYGBIV division of the visible color spectrum is arbitrary. This is interesting to think about when dealing with different types of aerial photo imagery. We always need to create categories to understand the data we are trying to analyze.

Problem Solved

In Aerial Photo Interpretation I have assignments where the students need to embed a map from Google maps into their report. In WordPress it has been working fine for me, but not for the students. This was quite mystifying!

I asked Nikke Moore at ITS Training Service if she knew what was going wrong. She didn’t know, but asked her colleagues. I got word today that Jetpack has to  be on to be able to embed the maps. So, we will try it at next week’s class. It makes sense, since that was the only difference between my blog setup and the students. Thanks Nikke!

Color Infrared Images

The new Chambersburg Reservoir looks very differently in true color and false color.



Aerial Photo Study Sites

Here is a map of the four sites that we will be using to study how the appearance changes with different kinds of imagery over the course of the semester.

20130911_100814Here  is the view north from the dam at the Waynesboro Reservoir.

20130911_101046And, thanks to Robert Voneida, I learned how to take panaromic pictures on my cellphone.



Fire News from NASA

This website from NASA, Fire and Smoke, shows imagery of wildfires from around the world on various sensing platforms and in different electromagnetic bands.

Aerial Photos Study Sites Fall 2012

In today’s FORT 230 lab we went out to look at study sites in the Waynesboro Watershed and Michaux Forest. I created waypoints for each site. During the semester the students will create maps of the sites using the different types of imagery we will be studying. They will upload the maps to their web sites.  Here’s my map:


Below is a slide show of photos taken at the different sites:


Drones and Natural Resources

I have heard news stories recently of how military drones have become smaller and more widely available for military uses. This NPR story tells how they will soon be available for government agencies and even private uses. 

The part that really got my attention was a quote by a US Geological Survey scientist who has been using drones on Bureau of Land Management properties. He said unequivocally that drones  are the future of natural resources land management. I guess every forester will want his eye in the sky.
This next NPR story concerns a convention of drone manufacturers in Las Vegas, with several videos of small drones in action.
And finally, here is a USGS training video with the Raven drone.