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

First day out

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

This morning I got to go out on my own and put some solid hours into my personal research! Woohoo! I took a 40 minute walk to the westernmost edge of our study site and went looking for patches of vegetation which ended up with a lot of bushwhacking and getting lost, but I got some great data!

Th process was roughly like this: first I found a patch of vegetation at least 4 or so meters wide with one species or one consistent mix of vegetation and took a detailed waypoint there on a Trimble pocket PC/GPS. I took corresponding pictures of the patch and collected samples if I did not know what the plants were.

I worked my way along the coastline of about 1/2 of our study site, then went home for the day!

Lab Day part 2

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

Yesterday was another thrilling sunny day spent indoors, but this time we were in a room that actually had windows. We spent the morning downloading and pre-processing our data that we collected in the field on Friday. It ended up being a pretty simple process since we had done it once before. After that we had a Veg Crew meeting and decided on our individual projects. I’m going to be looking specifically at coastal vegetation (go beach!) and using aerial imagery to classify those plants. After lunch I attempted to go through a 60-minute eCognition tutorial which ended up being only slightly useful and a little more than a little boring.

It sure did feel good to stay out of the sun though!

Swimming with sea turtles!

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

We woke up before dawn this morning to catch a boat to a very remote part of the island: Nualolo kai on the Ne Pali coast. It was unreal! I spent my morning pulling a very heavy GPR (ground-penetraring radar) unit across a field in the baking sun. We will analyze this data once we get back to CA, but it will show us what is going on below the surface – a different sort of remote sensing.

After this a group of us went snorkeling for a few hours around the rock reefs in the bay, which included swimming with some very groovy and ginormous green sea turtles which we named Frank Sinatra and Freddie Mercury.

After some time exploring the highlands with a group of invasive goats (and their “fallen” comrades) we got back on our boats and motored off into the sunset.

I didn’t take any photos so please refer to my cronies’ blogs for some!

Mountains to Sound (Kauai style)

Posted on June 24, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

Today was our first day off on Kauai! We started our day by touring about Waimea State Park and checking out the Waimea canyon – which was very accurately described to us as the Grand Canyon covered in trees. I got to experience some of my favorite things today: the sound of hundreds of bees buzzing around one tree, seeing birds swoop and dive in the air below me, and watching fog roll in and out of a valley overlooking the ocean. I purchased a field guide to the birds of the Hawaiian Islands so hopefully I will be able to start identifying some of these Aves.

We headed back to sea level to Poipu beach for some fun times snorkeling, swimming, eating and sunset-watching. And one of the best parts: no sunburn!

Pictures to come later.


Posted on June 24, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

This post is for June 23rd, but a lack of internet prevented posting until now.

In the morning the newly-named “Veg Crew” wandered around our study site taking waypoints and filling out  our data dictionary attributes for different patches of vegetation – natives, invasives, mixed  patches, etc.  We got to walk along a beautiful beach and check out a lot of cool plants including one that produced a thick latex when I cut a sample (I know all about that now, thanks Dr. Fink!).

After lunch we climbed a hill in our study site to check out what our aerial imagery will look like, and get a better idea of the sort of thing we are trying to model. The view was awesome and it was a really clear day, I will upload a 360 panorama later.

We got to watch two launches of the Gatewing X100 that took images of the western part of the study site.

Happy Friday!

I fought the porch and the porch won

Posted on June 22, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

Today we had a lab day on the grounds of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens – a very tedious but necessary and productive 7-hour spell in a cave of a room. We’ve generated quite a bit of data over the past few days by a couple different platforms. The imagery we have obtained from the kite camera and from the U of H flying wing will require quite a bit of processing to match with the 8-band WorldView 2 datasets. However, the product we will end up with will be of great benefit to the overall GRAM mission. The room we were in today was really cold! I was glad we had a lovely baked potato bar to come home to for dinner to warm us up. It was hearty and stuck to our ribs. I hear potatoes are great fuel for doing remote sensing. Only time will tell!

Update: I was out on the porch stargazing tonight and then I stood up to go inside and fell through. I am okay but the porch has a small battle wound.

The smell of sea air and sunburned skin

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

This morning we returned to the heiau to take kite and fixed wing aircraft photos. I set up points for ground-truthing the images with the tops of can white tupperware lids. These were within the image boundaries and we logged very accurate waypoints of them to georectify the final image. This also included some fun times with a walkie talkie.

After lunch on the beach we took a tour of the cave and sinkhole which was pretty stellar. It was neat to be able to connect what I had read in the book to what was actually going on in the cave, but unfortunately we weren’t able to check out the burial caverns. The other groups took aerial images of the plant grid while we were doing this and I think they got some shots of us standing in the giant sinkhole.

We are an incredibly lucky group of people who get to work in an awesome location along the coast, but that also means that there is zero shelter from teh blazing Hawaiian sun so even after applying and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, most of us end up roasted and toasted by the time we get back to the vans to go home! My sunscreen can’t compete with theses UVs!

Taco Tuesday

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

Yesterday was our first day out doing work for our individual projects. In the morning the vegetation group worked on the native plant grid and got spectroscopy readings for a plant called wiliwili, we only managed to complete readings on two plants because we were dodging squalls all morning and had to pack up all the gear and run to a shelter every 15 minutes or so.  But this meant that we got to eat some tasty Hawaiian pig. I felt OK about eating the pork (as a vegetarian) because it was a wild pig that had been messing up someone’s garden so they killed and cooked it –  can’t get more sustainable than that!

After lunch we hiked to a heiau (pronounced hey-ow) which is a large pile of lava rocks on the coast that used to be some sort of temple. My group took waypoints with a Trimble GPS unit in specific areas covered in one type of vegetation so we could work on identifying them in images that have a pixel size of 30 or so meters.

Dinner was tasty tacos followed by a lecture on the geology of Kauai.

Heavy Winds

Posted on June 20, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

Yesterday we went on a tour of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s facilities and gardens – including locations where Jurassic Park was filmed! The trees here are even more crazy than the ones I was raving about in Long Beach. I particularly like the skeletal fig trees that grow all over the place here. The beach at the outlet of the stream running through the gardens is picturesque and has a few annual green turtle nesting sites. We went to a place on the coast called Spouting Horn – where a lava tube on the rocky coast blasts water out of it into the air with each wave that hits the shore, and we spotted two green sea turtles playing in the surf!

We went to Makauwahi to check out the native plant grid, cave, sinkhole and surrounding areas. This experience included meeting some particularly friendly giant African land tortoises and a duck, as well as a few dust storms. We then climbed up to a quarry area to practice flying the kite but it was too windy to attach the camera to it. Then we went to a seed corn field by an old sugarcane factory to fly a fixed-wing aircraft and take some aerial images.

We cooked a tasty dinner and crashed out early again – being out in the sun all day really takes it out of you.

First Day on Kauai!

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Katherine Macklin

We got to Kauai today and have spent our afternoon settling in and exploring the surrounding area. It is absolutely gorgeous, I will post pictures soon. We are in a totally clutch location with a creek running nearby with banana and coconut palms around. The landscape is very similar to the island of Pemba off the coast of Tanzania – hilly and forested and slightly mysterious. There are goats and chickens everywhere (also very much like Zanzibar) and there is a nice constant breeze.

Time for some cookout!

About Katherine Macklin

I am an environmental science major and mathematics minor at Sweet Briar College born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest.