Alumni Donations in Action - Physical Geography Field School

June 26, 2020

This year’s field school was setup to take off from last year’s students who laid the groundwork for aerial mapping of their field site with tethered balloons. We learned a lot through our experience last year and this year we planned to add a new layer of data collection to the process. Students would be tasked with adding a second camera to the platform. This camera would be modified by students with the UV filter removed and a red filter added. The full platform would take two images, making it possible to stack the UV filter and red filter images to produce a processed image. We would test this processed image for what it could tell us about plant health on the ground. These updates would allow students to qualitatively analyze differences in ecosystem health, and give them further insight into one of this year’s main themes for the field school – Ecosystem Disturbance. The challenges associated with the transition to online instruction and provincial regulations on social distancing hit were a particular challenge for the field school and led to the cancellation of the onsite fieldwork component of the class.  I was impressed with the student experiment proposals submitted by the students this year and their resilience in the face of this challenging situation. We look forward to continuing this exercise next year where students will have the opportunity to work through modifying their cameras in order to analyze plant stress, setting up a camera rig for flight and mission planning. After data collection they will have the opportunity to examine their data and process it for vegetative difference. All of this is only possible through the generous donations made by alumni, enhancing the student learning process and opening up new opportunities for students to collaborate on integrating biogeophysical science, environmental systems and GIScience.

NOTE: Unfortunately the main fieldwork component of the 2020 Geography Field School had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Andrew Perkins, Lecturer in Physical Geography