What a difference a week makes. The weather has started to cooperate and we have now covered four of the nine flight areas. In addition, we also have concurrent measurements over both in-water calibration sites: Lizard Island and Heron Island.
The science team began the in-water validation at Heron Island on September 17 at approximately 8:00 am. Cloud and water conditions were optimal. The benthic cover team visited seven (7) sites and the optics team five (5) sites of varying coral reef condition (i.e., sand, algae, and coral). The optics team also visited one (1) site in optically deep waters. The reef metabolism team deployed their Lagrangian (upstream and downstream) instrumentation, which will remain in this location for several days. The benthic cover and optics team continue to sample a variety of coral reef conditions, and the reef metabolism team began their gradient flux approach.
In the image below, the optics team shows the six (6) science sites where optical measurements were taken as the Tempus Gulfstream IV, with JPL’s Portable Remote Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) on board, was flying overhead.
With the successful completion of the September 17 PRISM matchup on Heron Island, the science teams (benthic cover, optics, and reef metabolism) continued to sample a variety of coral reef conditions on September 18 and 19. Skies were overcast, but water conditions were generally good.
On September 18, the benthic cover team visited seven (7) sites, three (3) in the reef flat and four (4) on the lower and upper reef slope. The optics team conducted an Inherent Optical Properties (IOP) sensitivity study during a tidal cycle on the northern end of Heron Island. The metabolism team set-up instrumentation for gradient flux measurements near the Lagrangian transect deployed on September 17 in the lagoon.
On September 19, the benthic cover team visited three (3) sites on the upper and lower reef slope (the number of sites visited was limited due to the boat being reserved in the morning by another group at the research station). The optics team conducted a second IOP sensitivity study during a tidal cycle on the southern end of Heron Island. The metabolism team set-up a second set of gradient flux measurements near the Lagrangian transect. Stacy Peltier and Yvonne Sawall, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), received a tutorial from Stuart Phinn and Chris Roelfsema, University of Queensland, on their hand-held Analytical Spectral Devices (ASD) field spectrometer, which will be loaned to the CORAL benthic cover team for the remainder of the Heron Island field campaign (September 20 - 23).
Aircraft Flight Team: On September 15, the flight team flew to and collected data over the Mackay region (~4.5-hour flight), collecting 13 lines.
On September 17, the flight team (Diaz, Nolte, and Bender) flew to and collected data over the Heron Island and the Gladstone region (~5.8-hour flight), collecting 17 lines. The Heron Island data lines were particularly cloud free.
On September 19, the flight team (Diaz, Nolte, and Bender) flew to and collected data over the North Coral Sea (~5.1 hour flight), collecting 16 of 22 lines. The early lines were particularly cloud free, but conditions degraded as the morning wore on.