1997

The foundation helped to support the construction of an underwater habitat and the tracking of endangered lions and sea turtles. Awards totaled $1,200 this year.

Using the oceans to prepare for the exploration of space
Category : Use of Earth environments and resources to assist the human exploration of space
Institution : League of New Worlds, USA

The oceans cover 75% of the Earth’s surface and yet, like space, not a single human permanently lives in the frontier in 1997. This grant was to help and encourage the League’s efforts to create a sea-floor habitat where humans can live and work for long periods. The non-profit has already begun building a small station off the Florida coast. Researchers will test technologies and methods of operation that could benefit space exploration. Their work will lead the way for humans to make better use and develop a better scientific understanding of the oceans.

Mapping Norway’s glaciers using satellites
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Oxford University, UK

This expedition used glaciers, which can be dramatically affected by small temperature changes, to study global change. The expedition traveled to Svalbard, Norway in the summer of 1997 to set up a network of stakes and weather stations on the Lovenbreen glacier, a major glacier for which meteorological data goes back to 1912. GPS stations will be used in future years to study the movements of stakes on the glacier.

Studying and documenting unusual life under Antarctic ice
Category : Exobiology
Institution : Scripps Institution of Oceanography (applicants home institution), USA

The life that lives under the Antarctic ice sheet is unique to this extreme environment. With the support of the US National Science Foundation a small team traveled to Antarctica to document life under the ice at McMurdo and Palmer Station.

Tracking sea turtles with satellites
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Caribbean Conservation Corporation

Sea turtles have roamed the earth for 200 million years. Once there were huge fleets of turtles that lived on beaches around the world. Now all seven species of marine turtles are threatened with extinction. The Caribbean Conservation Corporation launched an education program that used satellite tracking of turtle migration routes and the internet to excite children about these magnificent animals.

Golden Lion Tamarins of Brazil
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Various, USA and Brazil

Humans are increasingly encroaching upon natural areas. Satellite technology can help scientists to develop models of which areas for critical for species survival and how best to preserve them. The grant helped fund work on preserving habitats for Golden Lion Tamarins, primates that inhabit the Poco das Antas Reserve in Brazil as well as other areas of the Brazilian rainforest. The project used GPS and satellite tracking to study how food resources affect the movements of the species. The data is being used to develop models of which areas are important and which new areas would be predicted to be important based on food requirements. These models can be applied to other animals.

The Wana People of Sulawesi
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Various, UK and Indonesia

Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s best preserved islands, is home to the Wana people and some distinctive Indonesian fauna, including the dwarf buffalo and Sulawesi pigs. The Wana people are a traditional people that live in the rainforest and use ancient techniques for survival. They are the subject of international focus because they make ‘gardens’ in the rainforest in which they cultivate rice, sweet potato and manioc. These gardens can be seen from space and so satellite technology can be use to map the local environmental conditions and how they co-exist with the rainforest over time. The ability to make predictions on the probability that an area will become a Wana garden will be useful for building models to understand environmental impact in other regions of the world.

Monitoring African rice producing regions from space
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : West Africa Rice Development Association, Africa

The river plains of the Guinea and Sudan savanna zones of West Africa are potentially important ecosystems for the production of rice. Large-scale irrigation schemes in these flood plains are not feasible because of the high costs and uncertain environmental consequences. The West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) seeks to improve the productivity of the flood plains. WARDA uses remote-sensing satellite technology to map and characterize the savanna flood plains. Geo-referencing of the ground and low-flight information on the flooding patterns was gathered. This grant was to assist in buying satellite images.

Managing rainforests using satellite images
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Various, UK and Guyana

The Guyana Rain Forest Radar project has been running since 1993. Its focus is the Iwokrama Rain Forest Reserve of Guyana’s Natural Resources Agency (GNRA). The overall aim of the project is to develop technology for the management of rainforest, using low-cost geographical information systems and radar satellite data. During the 1997 expedition the group made accurate measurements of gaps in the rainforest canopy. The data was used to help understand how gaps appear on satellite radar images. The ability to detect gaps offers many opportunities to develop forest management tools. These include mapping of deforestation, identification of anthropogenic activity, and crude biodiversity assessment. As well as space-based research, the team also studied butterfly populations and how they are affected by gaps. The project was supported by the Royal Geographical Society, the European Space Agency and other organizations.

The origins of humans in Mongolia and the Far East
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : Joint Mongolia-Russian-American Archaeological Expeditions (Mongolia, Russia and USA)

Mongolia is a nation of extreme of temperatures and geography. However, the existence of more than 1,100 stone age sites and traces of human activity along the beaches of the Gobi Desert’s saline lakes indicates the country was a cross-roads for many people’s from Siberia, China and Central Asia. Human activity in Mongolia is now believed to date back over half a million years. The joint Mongolia-Russia-American Archaeological Expeditions (JMRAAE) were begun in 1995 to investigate the links between changes in the past ecological conditions in Mongolia to the movements in people. The expeditions are dependent on spaceborne imaging and GPS systems to navigate the featureless tracts of the Gobi Desert.

A novel use of space technology to help farmers
Category : Use of space technology to study the Earth’s environment
Institution : University of Leeds, UK / National Remote Sensing Centre, Mongolia

Nomadic herdsmen are dependent on areas of snow-melt to feed their herds in the arid conditions of Mongolia. Direct measurements of snow depth at different field stations have been used to guide herdsmen to potential feeding areas, but this is completely dependent on many reliable ground-based stations. Because natural microwave radiation given off from the Earth’s surface is attenuated by snow, passive microwave remote sensing from space can be used to gather real-time maps of snow melt. The Mongolia government will broadcast the information to herdsmen, who will then know the best places to forage. The expedition, led by Leeds University, carried out a large survey of snow depth in the Hentii mountains to provide the ground truth data for satellite interpretation. The information is being used by the National Remote Sensing Centre in Mongolia.