NASA Satellites Aid in Chesapeake Bay Recovery

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NASA Satellites Aid in Chesapeake Bay Recovery
04.22.08
 
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Narrator: Distant galaxies... ...black holes... ...the Martian surface. We all know NASA explores some of the most far out parts of space. But NASA is also working on crucial research right in our own backyard. The Chesapeake Bay.

[birds chirping]

Earth Science researchers David Toll and Ted Engman have been involved in efforts to incorporate NASA satellite data into water management projects around the Chesapeake.

David Toll: Part of the NASA mission is to protect our home planet Earth so I think the satellite data has a very unique and powerful role it can play in managing our resources.

Ted Engman: The satellite gives us the synoptic picture of the total bay and if there are improvements we should be able to see them with the satellite data or if there's degredation that should be able to be detected also.

Narrator: This is the way NASA sees the Chesapeake Bay with one of its satellites called Landsat. But as beautiful as it looks, the Chesapeake Bay is in trouble. Four centuries of urban population growth have crippled the bay, harming water quality and threatening the species that rely on a healthy ecosystem.

Ted Engman: You can see, if you fly over the bay, you can see the difference in color in the water, and that�s indicative of sediment or algae or some other type of problem area and I think the ability of satellite data to portray this without a single word, you can see what the situation is.

Narrator: Many of the pollutants that degrade the Bay come from its watershed, an enormous area of 64 thousand square miles that covers parts of six states. Watershed runoff carries more pollutants when it travels over paved surfaces and cropland, versus marshland or forests so land cover information from satellites helps Bay managers predict the best places to curb watershed pollution.

Ted Engman: The unique role that NASA can play in studying the Chesapeake Bay and monitoring it, is that it provides an environment for the other agencies and state groups to look at the total picture of the bay and how various water quality indicators change in season as well as in space.

David Toll: It's such a fragile ecosystem that being able to perhaps use satellite data to enhance the management of it really gives us a great opportunity.

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