MOVING SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH INTO THE CLASSROOM

 

Monitoring the Environment from Space

 As one of NASA's Regional Application Centers, HMDC and Rutgers - CIMIC are involved in an environmental monitoring project from space, enabling the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC) to benchmark and target environmental improvements throughout the District. The space- and land-based environmental monitoring systems are addressing problem solving in areas such as land use monitoring, ecosystem health, water quality and urban planning. This work is sponsored by HMDC and NASA.

 

Scientific Research of the Meadowlands District Ecosystems

 Rutgers - CIMIC, in partnership with HMDC, have established the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) to develop a better understanding of the complex environmental factors that affect the Hackensack Meadowlands ecosystem. The research and monitoring activities of MERI are focusing on six interrelated themes under the guidance of Rutgers - CIMIC professors: 1) vegetation patterns; 2) inter-tidal and shallow sub-tidal habitats; 3) contaminant hot-spots; 4) water quality; 5) air quality; and 6) scientific information management. These distinct themes have common investigative threads and complement one another within an environmental monitoring program that can establish baseline conditions and periodically issue an environmental "report card" for the District.

 

Outreach and Education

 Information and products coming out of the space monitoring program and the MERI institute are being used in educational and outreach programs. Rutgers - CIMIC conducts a three-week-long cybercamp during the summer geared at 14-18 year old students from the Newark City Public School system. Rutgers - CIMIC also works with teachers from Newark Science High School to find ways of incorporating space technology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to classroom activities.

 You can learn more about these programs at http://rac.rutgers.edu. You can also download 1996 and 1997 Landsat satellite images of the Meadowlands District These images are free if used for educational purposes. There are also a collection of AVHRR images and NDVI images of the northeast region available, also free of charge thanks to the HMDC and Rutgers - CIMIC.

 The HMDC Environment Center Hackensack River Education Consortium will develop teaching aids using the Landsat images. These should be available for spring, 1999. Contact the Center at (201) 460-8300.

 If you need more information, please contact Dr. Francisco J. Artigas at (973) 353-1069 or e-mail him at artigas@cimic.rutgers.edu.

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