Meet Dr. Reza Khanbilvardi, Professor of Civil Engineering
Satellites send vast quantities of data back to earth to forecast future environmental conditions, analyze current events and better understand past environmental disasters. Yet only a fraction of what is received is actually being used for scientific or engineering purposes. Reza Khanbilvardi plans to change that.
Professor Khanbilvardi, City College NOAA Chair Professor of Civil Engineering, is developing techniques and algorithms to transform more of that data into information that state and local environmental agencies can work with to best manage our nation's natural resources. As head of the NOAA Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology (CREST) Center, he oversees research to monitor the environment, predict natural disasters, and analyze and estimate anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic impacts on the environment.
The problems CREST confronts are multifaceted; no single satellite has everything; integrated data from different satellites is necessary to develop both short-term "nowcasting" (0-6 hours) and longer term forecasting capability. "The Center's new satellite receiving station, to be created at CCNY this year," says Dr. Khanbilvardi, "will make CUNY one of the few universities in the country capable of downloading, processing and archiving satellite data on a continuous timeline."
Much of the work involves finding ways to compensate for errors in data from older satellites, using sensors from newer satellites to forecast things they weren't originally designed for and improving accuracy. A growing concern is hydro climactic changes stemming from global warming, such as precipitation changes, urban heat island effects, and algae blooms that can choke the air supply to marine animals. To meet these challenges, CREST's multidisciplinary teams use remote sensing equipment and techniques to develop new technologies, new algorithms and computational techniques that measure changes in environmental conditions.
"We have to gear up for new technologies," Professor Khanbilvardi says. "New sensors, new analysis, and new data management techniques are needed to store, archive, compress, retrieve and process data from a new family of satellites that will carry more powerful instruments."
CREST has benefited from two grants totaling $12.5 million from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and faculty proposals have brought in an additional $3.5 million from NOAA, NASA and the Department of Defense. The Center is planning to submit a new five-year proposal to NOAA which it hopes will result in a further $10 to $12.5 million.
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