Professor Randolph Wynne has been selected by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA to be a member of the Landsat Science Team. Wynne joins a team of scientists and engineers who will provide technical and scientific input for the interagency Landsat program, which is comprised of a series of U.S. scientific satellites that have been imaging the Earth’s surface for 40 years. The Landsat archive is used by farmers, scientists, city planners, and other specialists to assess some of the world’s most critical issues, such as food, water, forests, and other natural resources.

Membership in the Landsat Science Team comes with funding for proposed research. “My research goal is to improve our collective ability to monitor, model, and manage the earth system — and, in particular, forest ecosystems — through improvements in both the preprocessing and analysis of multi-temporal Landsat data,” said Wynne.

Wynne’s research team is testing prototype solutions for dealing with the problem of clouds in the images they get from the satellites. Research team members Professor Kevin Boyle and Associate Professor Klaus Moeltner of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are recruiting undergraduate students to fine-tune online training modules for cloud identification. Another technique being tested is to provide the missing images by creating a model based on data from previous shots.

Wynne’s research team is also working to improve the Landsat Science Team’s ability to be alerted quickly when there are significant changes to a landscape. “Whether the application is disaster management or agricultural productivity, urban expansion or forest loss, detecting these changes is critical to understanding a wide variety of earth system processes,” explained Wynne. “We will help the Landsat program develop advanced methods or strategies for largearea land change assessments, pioneer new applications of Landsat data sets resulting from the free data policy, and increase the value of Landsat for addressing societal issues.”

In addition to Boyle and Moeltner, Wynne’s research team includes University Distinguished Professor Harold Burkhart, Professor Tom Fox, Assistant Professor Valerie Thomas, Research Scientist Christine Blinn, and instructor Evan Brooks from the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and John Coulston, supervisory research forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program.