Lee’s 2002 Article Selected as One of Most Influential in Applied Optics
December 22, 2012
Jim Mortenson, Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies
In September 2002, five months after NASA’s successful launch of the MPDIS-Aqua satellite into space, Applied Optics, one of the world’s top optics journals, published ZhongPing Lee’s article “Deriving Inherent Optical Properties from Water Color: A Multiband Quasi-Analytical Algorithm for Optically Deep Waters.”
Recently, the journal’s editors selected Lee’s article as one of the “Most Influential Articles” published over the 50-year life of the journal. In the article, Lee, who today is a UMass Boston professor specializing in optical oceanography, and his co-authors articulated a new idea, or system, for ocean color remote sensing. Today, his work continues to have important implications for the fast-growing discipline of environmental sustainability.
“It’s quite flattering and satisfying to be recognized by one’s peers in this manner,” says Lee. “What I find most exciting about this news is that my efforts and those of my UMass Boston colleagues are making important contributions on Earth observation and educating next-generation scientists.”
Simply stated, Lee’s ongoing and past efforts have been focused on the development of remote sensing algorithms that can be applied to both oceanic and coastal environments. It covers three aspects: to understand how the light field changes in a natural environment (radiative transfer); to develop effective tools that use the light information to retrieve important environmental properties (remote sensing); and to use the remotely sensed products (either from airborne or space borne sensors) to study the ocean/Earth system.
The applications of ocean color remote sensing are extensive, varied, and fundamental to understanding and monitoring the global ecosystem. Some examples are studies of ocean carbon fixation and cycling, monitoring of ecosystem changes resulting from climate change, fisheries management, monitoring of water quality for recreation, detection of harmful algal blooms and pollution events, and many others.
UMass Boston Professor Crystal Schaaf, who is one of Lee’s colleagues, was recently named by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA as a member of the new Landsat Data Continuity Mission Satellite. Schaaf, Lee, and the ERT Corporation's Yanmin Shuai are developing algorithms to establish the surface albedo, or the amount of solar energy that is reflected by the Earth’s surface, of land and near-shore areas of North America.
Surface albedo is an essential climate variable governing the surface energy budget that ultimately can inform our decision making on matters of environmental sustainability.
The Landsat Satellite is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in February 2013. So it would seem Lee's article published in 2002 has successfully bridged time and will continue to positively impact the development of the quietly moving satellites orbiting our planet today and in the near future.