MTRI has multiple research projects that are related to environmental issues such as wetlands mitigation, carbon cycle, water characterization, fire, farming practices and climate change. These projects use multi-spectral satellite imagery to analyze study areas as well as in situ measurements. The types of satellite data that is used ranges from multi-spectral imagery in the vsible part of the light spectrum (Landsat, MODIS and ASTER) to Synthetic Aperture RADAR (Radarsat, JERS and PALSAR).

Water Characterization

MTRI has expertise in developing new techniques for in-situ and remote sensing-based water characterization. MTRI, in partnership with Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), has developed autonomous robot buoy systems for in-situ data collection. These systems, and other datasets, have been used to support monitoring efforts, conduct baseline characterization of remote areas, and develop decision support systems. MTRI also creates and maintains web-based systems for projects.

Land and Wetland Ecosystem Studies

Scientists at MTRI are involved with projects to use remote sensing to map and characterize land use and land cover change and have several projects mapping and monitoring forested and wetland ecosystems for impacts from invasive species and climate change. Mapping and monitoring coastal land cover and land use, wetlands and invasive species in the Great Lakes as well as monitoring agricultural practices in Michigan to assess environmental benefits represent the range of projects covered. In addition to Michigan-based studies, MTRI projects include studies around the world, including Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Africa.

Studying Fire and Fire Effects on Ecosystems and the Earth System

MTRI scientists are at the forefront of research on fire effects from local to global scales. Prescribed and natural fire can impact land, water, and air. MTRI scientist study fire from numerous points of view, including research on how remote sensing and geospatial technologies can be used to monitor agricultural burning or to help inform decisions on post-fire erosion control. Assessment of fire emissions on the global carbon cycle as well as air quality has been the subject of several studies including a project funded by the National Institutes of Health to assess the impact of fire-generated particulates on respiratory health.