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Satellite technology maps Bermuda seabed from space

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Satellite photograph showing Bermuda surrounded by its reef system (File photograph)

A team of international researchers used satellite technology to map Bermuda’s undersea environment from space.

Nathan Thomas and Lola Fatoyinbo of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre merged together data from multiple sources in an effort to accurately measure water depth from satellite images.

The researchers, along with partners internationally, used satellite data to gauge the depth up to 85ft of Bermuda’s waters, along with Biscayne Bay in Florida and the Gulf of Chania in Crete.

They combined data from NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2), which uses a “photon-counting lidar” which determines height by sending a pulse of light towards the earth and measuring how long it takes photons to bounce back.

They then combined that data with images of the area from European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 to expand the results beyond the narrow lines recorded by ICESat-2.

They then compared the data to existing maps of the area’s waterways and found the measurements to be accurate within 10m.

Mr Thomas said: “Nearshore, shallow-water bathymetry is so important to both society and the natural environment, but openly available information on sub-aquatic structure is uncommon, particularly at high spatial resolutions.

“We were able to improve upon freely available data sets in both detail and imaging period with wall-to-wall maps of nearshore bathymetry at 10-meter resolution.”

The technology could be used to easily and accurately map marine environments at low cost.

The research letter – published by Advancing Earth and Space Science – said: “Knowledge of the depth of the shallow sea floor in coastal waters is needed for a wide range of applications, including navigation and habitat monitoring.

“Mapping water depth in these locations is expensive, arduous and sometimes dangerous.”

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Published May 06, 2021 at 7:53 am (Updated May 06, 2021 at 7:28 am)

Satellite technology maps Bermuda seabed from space

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