Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Giant Kelp

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Giant Kelp

Article excerpt

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have developed new methods for studying how environmental factors and climate affect giant kelp forest ecosystems at unprecedented spatial and temporal scales.

The scientists merged data collected underwater by UCSB divers with satellite images of giant kelp canopies taken by the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper. The findings are published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

In this marriage of marine ecology and satellite mapping, the team of UCSB scientists tracked the dynamics of giant kelp--the world's largest alga--throughout the entire Santa Barbara Channel at approximately six-week intervals from 1984 to 2009. Landsat 5 was originally planned to be in use for only three years.

David Siegel--coauthor, professor of geography, and codirector of UCSB's Earth Research Institute--notes that having 25 years of imagery from the same satellite is unprecedented. "I've been heavily involved in the satellite game, and a satellite mission that goes on for more than 10 years is rare," says Siegel. …

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