NERTO Students

Stephen Escarzaga

Stephen Escarzaga
PhD, Environmental Science & Engineering, Graduate

Internship Location: Corbin, Virginia / Anchorage, Alaska / Barrow, Alaska

Internship Date: May 15 - August 15, 2019


Escarzaga received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from The University of Texas at El Paso. He received the 2017 VADM Lautenbacher Public Service Graduate Scholarship which supports students studying Earth Systems Science, Engineering, Data Science, Geosciences, and Remote Sensing Technologies. In October 2018, he spent two weeks aboard the E/V Nautilus as a Seafloor Mapping Intern with the Ocean Exploration Trust.

NERTO Research Project Title:

DSM Production from NOAA RSD Coastal Imagery in Alaska for CSC Student

NERTO Project Details :

Synopsis: The NOAA Remote Sensing Division has performed extensive aerial collection of semi-oblique and nadir (traditional) georeferenced imagery of Alaska’s coastline in the summers of 2016 and 2017 to serve as a baseline in assessing navigation impacts of future coastal events and informing coastal-zone management. Additional collection is planned for 2018. The 2017 collection, available e at : https://geodesy.noaa.gov/storm_archive/alaska/index.html covers more than 50% of the northern Alaska coastline from Kotzbue to the Canadian border. The approximate ground sample distance (GSD) for each pixel of the nadir imagery is 50 cm and forward/aft overlap imagery in the collection creates new opportunities for these data to be processed into Digital Surface Model (DSM) using Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetric techniques.

DSM generation with the 2017 imagery can be used to inform new standards for the collection of NOAA airborne digital imagery and the resultant products will be of substantial value to updating shoreline positions, calculating erosion rates, and making volumetric estimates of geomorphic chance on Alaska’s North Slope.

NERTO Skills:

Ahead of my official NERTO duties, I spent a week at NOAA’s Remote Sensing Division (RSD) offices in Corbin, Virginia to meet with RSD cartographers and prepare for this work. There, I was introduced to RSD mission goals, acquired project data, learned about different data types, and determined data management and processing strategies. Working with NOAA's federal geospatial partners at the National Park Service (NPS) Alaska Regional Office, I learned advanced fieldwork and data processing techniques with regards to collection, processing and validation of field-based GNSS GPS data using NOAA's Online Positioning User Service (OPUS) and commercial software. Additionally, in work sessions with my NERTO mentor, I learned more about geodesy and how to properly use and convert between coordinate systems and vertical datums (both very import when working with elevation data). Finally, in creating Python scripts aimed at automating image processing tasks within NPS, I learned more about the Python language and how to implement scripts.