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California State University, Long Beach
CSULB Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) Field Program
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Daily Blog for Charly Arney

Day 11

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today was pretty much a data day. We went to the education center at the garden and explored the imagery with ERDAS and created some orthophotos in PhotoScan. I feel like I have a much better handle on ERDAS now. Using PhotoScan to create DEMS from the pictures the kite and fixedwing took was great. We also got some of the GAP analysis imagery from Matt and created our “data dictionary” in GPS Pathfinder Office for the Trimble units. This should make things easier in the field tomorrow. Apparently the other group got to see Dr.Burney chase chickens across the road today.  I would have paid good money to see that

Day 10

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today started with a hike to the heiau and several successful flights with both the kite and fixed wing remote sensing platforms. The kite is great because of its simplicity. The camera it carries can be set to take pictures at fixed intervals or manually and it can also rotate to obtain pictures from other angles. We had lunch on the beach and I actually got to go in! I was wonderful! We then had a tour of the caves with Dr.Burney. It is interesting to hear him talk about the things I have already read in his book. After working with him for the last few days when I read the book now it is in his southern drawl. We had an early day and came home around four. It was wonderful to get a chance to relax and hang out with everyone. We even had a yoga session on the deck before dinner

Day 9

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today my group started out taking spectroscopy reading with Mike. We took 10 readings from two different WiliWili plants in different states of leaf on/leaf off. This means that leaves on the same plant can be anywhere from dark green to yellow. These different readings are necessary because in order to properly create a spectral signature an average must be calculated for the entire plant. This field work is very dependent on weather conditions including the intensity of the sun which can affect the reflectivity of the plant leaves. Because of this the technician must be careful not cast their shadow on the leaf being examined. The shadow would create a false reading. It was also raining intermittently throughout the morning causing us to take shelter and impeding the amount of work we got done. We then took a hike to the heiau by the coast and planned our analysis for tomorrow. We also took Trimble points on several different types of vegetation. We began to develop our “data dictionary”. This exercise was a great way to begin developing vegetation group’s data process. At lunch we got to sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll in. all of us waded in the shallows. Tomorrow I am going to wear my bathing suite! We tired to fly the kite to obtain data on the quarry but the winds were to variable to safely use this method of remote sensing.

Day 8 Kauai

Posted on June 19, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today started with a tour of the National Botanical Gardens led by Dr. Burney. The first stop was the main library on the facility where we met the gardens GIS director and talked about the methods that have been used to map Kauai’s rare plants in the past and the efforts they are making to map them in the future. We then went around the garden seeing many of the houses on the site and learning about the history of Kauai.  Dr.Burney is a fantastic and intriguing instructor and I am looking forward to learning more from him as the project progresses. We also had the opportunity to vist the vegetation grid by the shore and see the methods that Dr.Burney and Lida are using to restore natural vegetation on the island. This includes many new and innovative methods such as using Giant African tortoises to simulate the feeding habits of the extinct giant ducks that once occupied Kauai.  After this we met with the graduate students from the University of Hawaii to do some remote sensing via kite and fixed wing aircraft. Unfortunately the wind conditions were too unstable to conduct any imagery of the quarry. I had the opportunity to assist by reading the wind meter and relaying this information to the kite team. The wind was fluxuating between 9 and 34 knots. Well beyond the range to safely operate the kite. We then headed to the sugar mill to try the fixed wing platform. The ingenuity and creativity of the UOH graduate students in creating a cost effective cousin to the GateWing from a hobbyists remote control airplane was truly impressive. The things an engineer and a geographer can create together have no limits! Despite the high winds and difficult conditions the aircraft took off after only two tries and was soaring over head collecting data. This platform can stay airborne for up to an hour and in many weather conditions. There is on onboard camera sending a live action video feed to a screen on the ground so technicians can see what the plane is sensing. The plane and be manually controlled or have a set flight path like the GateWing. Over all it was an a great first day in the field.  Below are some pictures of me using the wind gauge and of the fixed wing.

Day 7

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Charly Arney

We met at 5:30 this morning and went through the usually airport mess. It turned out we had a ton of bags to check. I have never in my life seen so much luggage attached to so few people. I am not a fan of these body scan “security measures” . Freedom? I think not. I am really beginning to think about grad school out side the U.S. I was forced to sit by two unruly children whose parents purposefully did not sit by them “to avoid stress”. These children ages 5 and 7 both had IPhones and an IPad and behaved awfully. I must have gotten up to let them “go to the restroom” 8 times in 2 hours. Thankfully my wonderful classmate Courtney traded me seats half way through the flight. It was worth it though we got to Kauai without losing one piece of baggage or equipment in the baggage check! We were the greeted by an amazing feast when we got here! The best food I have had in a week! We got settled in and then..MORE GREAT FOOD! I talked with a lot of new people and had a great time. After dinner we had a brief safety/ schedule meeting. Now I’m going to read some articles and get some sleep…if this house ever gets quiet enough for that

Day 6

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Charly Arney

Not much to say today got some last minute gear and read some articles. Packed my clothes and got everything ready for tomorrow!

Day 5

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today I found out I’m in the vegetation group! This means lots of remote sensing and hopefully becoming a skilled Ecognition tech.  I will be with Dr.Lee’s group mapping invasive species and trying to find new ways top remotely sense them. Creating new methods for this type of classification is necessary because most of the plants are located in remote and inaccessible locations on the steep slopes of Kauai. I am doing a comparative study on the location of rare plant habitat vs that of the habitat of their known pollinators. I found some great articles on the topic and am excited to see the Biological Gardens Library and finding more back ground research. I am looking forward to our day off tomorrow and finally getting to Kauai!!!

Day 4

Posted on June 15, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today was filled with training  exciting new equipment! First my group learned how to use the Trimble GPS unit. This unit can create shapefiles of vector features that can be put directly into ArcGIS or other formats. We also used the Garmin units to collect data points and then loaded them into DNR online software put out by Garmin. We also loaded these points into Google Earth. I was impressed by this because it was so easy and “real time”.

After this we used the X-Ray Floresence device( XRF). This is an X-ray device used to examine the energy release by the atoms of different kinds of field samples such as bed rock or soil. We can use this equipment to examine the potassium and phosphorus levels in the soil and bedrock on Kauai to determine the productivity of the landscape. This is an exciting piece of equipment that can really help us determine what humans did to change their environments growing capabilities in the past.

After lunch we used the spectrometer to examine plant life around campus. This piece of equipment measures what parts of the electromagnetic spectrum is being absorbed and which parts are being reflected by plant life.  There is talk about using this piece of equipment in conjunction with remote sensing to better classify vegetation types.

After this Dr.Lipo gave an exciting lecture on Polynesia and touched on his Easter Island studies.  I have already read his book The Statues that Walked and loved getting to hear some of these topics from him. I am still looking forward to asking him “Dr.Lipo, what is up with Rapa Nui and hats?”.

Then we went out to make some test flights with the blimp. This is a piece of equipment that can be used on Kauai to take cost effective RMS images of small areas using normal cameras.  It was not what I expected. I suppose I envisioned something elliptical and silver but the blimp was red and shaped more like a weather balloon.  Getting it aired up and functional went …pretty smoothly but however the flying part did not go so well. This is an area where I believe our team could use some military style training and communication methods. Having a pre-defined set of words that translate into certain actions or concerns would really benefit the navigation of this balloon among so many people spaced to far apart. My string got tangled into the spring on the locking mechanism of the reel I was using. We also where using the expensive cameras and as the balloon swung dangerously close to the trees it became apparent we should not have used the GateWings expensive cameras on a test fight! This was very stressful exercise but I felt that it was over all a good example of the capabilities of this type of remote sensing.  We also got to see the GateWing up close and personal for the first time. It is truly amazing what people with know how and a great idea can do with normal hobby shop toys and some great software….and what those innovative people can charge for that equipment.

Below are some pictures of the balloon flight.

Day 3

Posted on June 13, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today we had a lecture on the hydrology portion of the Kauai REU from Matt Becker. It seemed like this portion of the trip would be exciting and interesting. I think this will be my second choice for the “group” I want to be in. After that Dr. Wechsler gave us a review on using raster images in GIS. Then Briton taught us how to use eCognition! This was really much more intuitive than EDRAS. I am very excited to learn to use this software for more advanced projects. I can think of many applications for this in my research at at MSU.

We then did another exercise with PhotoScan where we used actual data that the UAV gathered in Easter island last summer to make a orthophoto. Although we could not export the data we generated we used Dr. Wechsler’s file to begin creating GIS data. We then did a raster analysis exercise with Dr. Wechsler which was a great review of Spatial Analyst tools, limitations, and capabilities. I was excited to be using data I created to make a DEM. I can see how this capability could save researchers tens of thousands of dollars by eliminating the need to purchase data from third party companies. After class I then  began my attempt to use photography to create a PhotoSynth image. I took many pictures from many angles and distances but it failed to create an useable 3D image on the website. While this frustrates me I know that I can learn from my mistakes and make better images in the future. During our search for the perfect object to synth a couple of us took pictures by the CSLUB sign. Mine is below.


Day 2

Posted on June 12, 2012 by Charly Arney

Today Dr. Lipo gave a lecture on the metaphysics of science. This consisted of explaining that everything I thought I knew about research, theory, and hypotheses was incorrect. I learned the difference between Ideational and Phenomenological and how they relate to one another. We then had another lecture about remote sensing and the different capabilities various platforms can perform. We then began our first exercise in ERDAS. This was my first experience using this software and at first it was frustrating but with the help of my peers I caught on.  I over laid one image of Kauai onto another by matching their coordinates. The area in the south west that is a slightly diffrent color is the over laid area.


Kauai Overlay









About Charly Arney

I am a GIS/ Geography double major at Michigan State University. I am also getting specializations in sustainability and environmental studies. I am the public affairs representative for MSU Outdoor Club and for MSU Geography Club. My professional interests are improving human interactions with nature as the need to provide more food and living space for people increases and in biodiversity preservation.