Kelas Daring IELTS NTT’s Webinar Series #5: Remote Sensing & Environmental Monitoring – With Florina Stephanie Richard, Master of Science (Research) Candidate from Swinburne University of Technology

We would like to start this article by saying our thanks to everyone who have been following us until this stage. Your supports and keen on learning are essential for us to keep going. Today we had a privilege to host another amazing speaker to share her knowledge and work with our audiences. Florina Stephanie Richard is a biotechnology graduate from Swinburne University of Technology. She is currently pursuing her master’s study in Remote Sensing with Swinburne Scholarship. She is also an alumna at ISEF (Arizona, USA) where she was a student scientist. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Florina became a YSEALI Academic Fellow at the University of Montana focussing on global environmental issues. She was also the project leader of Plastic & Society, a project that aimed to create awareness on plastic pollution in a rural village in Sarawak, Malaysia. Her project won a grant from YSEALI and was partially funded by the Newton Fund of the British Council. Florina currently works with the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to develop the state’s first environmental model based on satellite data. This model will be used to understand and monitor environmental changes due to agricultural activities with specific focus on oil palm agriculture. If you missed Florina’s presentation and would like to watch her talk, you can access the recording using this link: Florina’s presentation.

Florina began her talk by giving introduction to Remote Sensing (RS) technology, which consisted of “types and history of RS”, “mechanism of satellite RS” and “seeing the invisible”. If you do not know about RS, RS is a process of obtaining information of a phenomenon or an object without any physical contact with it. To give you a simple example of RS instrument, you can think of your eyes as the instrument, and the process of seeing an object with your eyes is what is called as RS. A quick historical lesson from Florina, RS began in 1840s when balloonist took pictures of the ground using the recently invented photo camera, which was followed by Dr. Neubronner in 1903 to use pigeon attached to a camera. Then a massive change on this field happened in the 20th century when the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched in 4 October 1957. Until now, there have been 4987 satellites orbiting in space to do sort of activities, from communication, weather monitoring, environmental modelling to military activity (Data by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs). If you would like to know how this process works, we strongly recommend you watch her presentation.

Florina’s work is focusing more in using satellite remote sensing instrument for environmental modelling. The primary reason why RS is important for research in this area is because it can see and measure the invisible, which is all the things that are not visible by our human eyes. As said at the beginning, Florina’s work is a joint work between Swinburne University of Technology, SMA, and with European Space Agency (ESA) to provide satellite data. To analyse the data provided, Florina and her team use Google Earth Engine combined with her model algorithm (written in JavaScript) to look for 1) plant health, 2) biomass, and 3) yield estimation.  We recommend you see Florina’s presentation to see how her model applied to the engine. Not only that, Florina’s team also conducted field work to feed data obtained from the field work back to the model and compare the data provided by satellite. This process is also known as data correction. Some other stuffs discussed on Florina’s talk were future works where Florina will be based on the university campus in Australia.  Some conclusions from the talk are as follows: 1) RS tech is changing the way we do environmental monitoring, 2) collaboration is a great way to advance this tech for common good.

We had quite some number of questions asked by our viewers. Some of the questions and answers are highlighted below:

Any challenges when your team did the data correction activity?

Yes, as Florina and her team needs high-quality data images in order to conduct the activity. Another challenge facing Florina and her team was permission to enter plantation site to conduct their research.

Will the high-resolution data be available for public?

The high-resolution data from satellite images are not available for public, which is why you need to request. But you can access the other satellite image data although the quality is in low resolution.

How will the outcome of this research help small-scale farmers?

The outcome of this research does not have direct impacts to them, but rather it is designed to produce results to help the government for decision making. However, there a small proportion from the research that Florina hopes can give direct impacts to the farmers.

Can you share your past experience participating in YSEALI academic fellow and how does that experience relate with your current work? 

Florina acknowledged her experiences in YSEALI academic fellowship as a place where she met a lot of open-minded people with shared passion as well as the knowledge and insight she got from them.

That is all the summary from Florina’s sharing session with Kelas Daring IELTS NTT. Please bear in mind that this article only highlights main parts from the talk, so there are some other minor things missing from it. If you would like to know all the details, we recommend you watch Florina’s talk through this link: Florina’s talk. Florina is available for you to reach out by email at frichard@swinburne.edu.my

Summary Written By: Albert Christian Soewongsono (albertchristian1997@gmail.com)

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