Tue, 24 May 2011
SBC uses satellite data to track influences on giant kelp
By combining marine ecology and satellite mapping, SBC LTER graduate student Kyle Cavenaugh and scientists Dave Siegel and Dan Reed have tracked the dynamics of giant kelp in the Santa Barbara Channel from 1984 through 2010 at approximately six-week intervals using Landsat imagery, which recently became available to the public at no charge. Giant kelp is particularly sensitive to changes in climate that alter wave and nutrient conditions, and Cavanaugh explained that, thanks to the satellite images, his team was able to see how the biomass of giant kelp fluctuates within and among years at a regional level for the first time. Satellite data were augmented by kelp biomass and abundance records collected by the SBC LTER project. The group found that the dynamics of giant kelp growing in exposed areas of the Santa Barbara Channel were largely controlled by the occurrence of large wave events, while kelp growing in protected areas was most limited by periods of low nutrients.
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