Remote sensing (RS) is the science of acquiring information about the Earth’s surface without actual contact with the object or area being analyzed. RS is increasingly utilized and relied upon to solve complex physical, biological and social issues affecting our interconnected world. Most biophysical applications of remote sensing use instruments carried on satellites. RS at Macalester focuses on the interpretation and application of data from space-borne imaging systems (eg: Landsat OLI, Landsat ETM, Quickbird, MODIS, AVHRR and SPOT).

The Geography Department currently offers an introductory course in Remote Sensing (RS) analysis and we anticipate offering an advanced section during the 2020-21 academic year. The computer labs in Carnegie 108 and 109 are equipped with the software Erdas Imagine, which is used for intro level courses. Students who are interested in working on independent project using Erdas Imagine should contact the Geography Department for permission to use the teaching labs. No other computers on campus are equipped with the software. 

Interested in course information?  Take a look at the syllabus!

“Intro Remote Sensing class of Fall 2019”

Learn more about the current course instructor!

One of the most important aspects of RS at Macalester is to have students conduct independent research of their own interest. Because of the nature of RS analysis, student projects are highly diverse in topics and areas of research. A selected number of research projects conducted during fall 2019 are detailed below:

Characterizing ice dynamics of the Quelccaya ice cap in Southern Perú, by Alessandro Antúnez de Mayolo Mauceri
Alessandro studied ice dynamics of the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru using Landsat data. He found that Quelccaya has rapidly lost a significant amount of ice since 1985. This project helps to understand how ice caps and glaciers respond to anthropogenic climate change in the tropical Andes.

Modelling patterns of vegetation change in eastern Finnmark, Norway, by Henry Beimers
Henry studied changes in forest cover in Finnmark, Norway, using Landsat data. He found that forest land cover type expanded northward between 1985 and 2019. This project helps to show impacts to the low Arctic due to climate change.

Greenland’s growing glacier? by Maggie Jaenicke
Maggie investigated the reportedly growing Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, which has been on a trend of thickening since 2016, using Landsat data. She found ice increase between 2013 and 2019 but an overall decrease trend since 1990. This research helps to understand glacier trends in a warming Arctic.

Urban Greening in Paris, by Julia Evelyn
Julia studied changes in greenspace in Paris from 2010-2019, using Landsat 7 and 8 data. She found that there was an increase in greenness of the city after 2014, when there was a change in the city’s governance and climate policy. This project helps to understand how policy promises correspond with actual greening in Paris.

Previous Visiting RS Faculty at Macalester
Dr. Robert Rose, 2014 Hubert H. Humphrey Visiting Scholar
Dr. Harini Nagendra, 2013 Hubert H. Humphrey Visiting Scholar
Dr. Sanchayeeta Adhikari, 2011-2013 Berg Postdoctoral Fellow