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Fri, 26 Sep 2014

Floating Forests
Two SBC LTER associated investigators, Jarrett Byrnes (UMass Boston), and Kyle Cavanaugh (UCLA) have developed a website where the public can assist with their research on kelp forests. An algorithm for estimating kelp biomass from NASA Landsat imagery using SBC data collected by divers developed by Cavanaugh has allowed new synoptic analysis of kelp forests over large spatial and temporal scales. Data are now available for central through Baja California. However, in some satellite imagery, computers cannot correctly distinguish kelp from sea foam, but fortunately human eyes can. Floating Forests displays Landsat shoreline images. and visitors are asked circle the kelp forest they see in the images, The results will help reveal valuable new information about how giant kelp and the marine ecosystems they support have changed through the last 30 years. Initially, images available on the site are of the coastlines of California and Tasmania. Kelp forests are found along 25% of the world's coastline, and subsequent sets of images will include areas from Chile to South Africa. The team plans to first analyze giant kelp dynamics and canopy coverage, and then estimate the total carbon in the giant kelp across the globe, measuring potential shifts in range, seasonality and distribution over the 30-year Landsat time scale. The collaborators on this project, which includes Zooniverse, have contributed to an education portal, ZooTeach, which contains teaching materials, including lesson plans and other resources related to kelp forests.
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