Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




Geological Sciences

First Advisor

Venkat Lakshmi


Satellite remote sensing observations have been used for numerous studies to better understand physical and biological properties over varying spatial and temporal scales. Depending on the satellite and sensor, the satellite-derived observations can provide high spatial and temporal resolution for many important physical and biological variables. While there are many limitations in utilizing satellite remote sensing products, there are also many advantages. This dissertation investigates three different applications for satellite remote sensing products to address climatological and ecological concerns. This dissertation is motivated by two overall research questions: (1) How can satellite remote sensing products be used to address important climatological and ecological problems; and (2) What are the limitations and advantages to using satellite remote sensing products for such studies? I focus on using satellite-derived precipitation estimates from the NOAA PERSIANN Climate Data Record (CDR), and land surface temperature (LST), sea surface temperature (SST), and chlorophyll-a concentration from Aqua and Terra satellites. Additionally, I provide comparative analysis with in-situ observations to determine how well the different satellite-derived variables preform for the different applications. While each of the three studies presented in this dissertation are very different, they all provide similar results and conclusions for the overall application of utilizing satellite-derived observations.

The overall results of this dissertation show that satellite remote sensing products have many important advantages over in-situ data depending on the research question and geographical location. In the first study, I found that using the PERSIANN CDR was able to provide end-users with a a long-term record of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) based precipitation estimates for the entire United States Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI). However in the second study, I discovered that satellite-derived observations were not well suited for understanding the body growth of a rocky intertidal mussel species because of the limitations in spatial resolution. Lastly, I found that satellitederived surface temperature measurements were better predictors of intertidal water temperature than some in-situ water measurements. Together, these studies highlight both the limitations and advantages to using satellite-derived observations for different applications.


© 2016, Jessica Rochelle Price Sutton

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