Mitch Emmons, 334/844-5741


AUBURN -- Remote Sensing Systems, a member of the diverse family of Spatial Information Technologies, is the key research tool an Auburn University researcher uses it for detection applications in his work on land use and ground covers.

"Predominantly, I use satellite remote sensing," says Mark Mackenzie, an assistant professor in the School of Forestry. "This enables me to obtain an almost realtime image of a particular area that I am interested in and download it to my desktop computer for analysis."

Different ground covers appear as different color patterns in the digital image, Mackenzie says.

"Each pixel in the image represents 30 meters," he added. "By zooming in and out, you can see how the particular area is being used and learn much about the environmental conditions."

Mackenzie has relied heavily on remote sensing in his research on non-point source pollution of watershed regions.

"You basically can relate water pollution to point sources or non-point sources," Mackenzie said. "Point sources are places where you know various things are taking place, such as factories in production. Non-point sources, however, are sometimes very difficult to locate. The geographical imagery obtained with remote sensing technology can help significantly in the location of these non-point sources of pollution."

Land use and ground cover determination is the most widespread application of remote sensing in forestry, according to Mackenzie. But the technology also is used in pest and disease control programs, wildlife and habitat study, and in obtaining other types of ecological data.

"The future of remote sensing and other Spatial Information Technologies is rapidly developing," Mackenzie added. "In forestry applications, these technologies soon will be advanced to the point so that we have rapid, realtime, statewide detection capabilities."

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CONTACT: Mackenzie, 334/844- 1014.