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Jacob Arndt Conducts Research at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

October 17, 2017

Jacob Arndt was selected to participate in the NASA DEVELOP Program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California this summer. DEVELOP is part of NASA's applied sciences program and is focused on addressing environmental and public policy issues through interdisciplinary research and the use of satellite observations. 

Jacob worked on a collaborative research project in the Health and Air Quality Applications area which involved reviewing existing literature relevant to the project and conducting analysis with GIS and remote-sensing data. The goal of the project was to assist the Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board in identifying methane emissions patterns from dairy farms in California using remotely sensed data from airborne sensors and satellites. 

More specifically, California is the leading dairy producer in the United States so enteric fermentation by domestic livestock and manure management make substantial contributions to the state’s methane budget. The total number, location, size, and manure management infrastructure of dairy farms throughout the state is uncertain. Given these uncertainties, in addition to dairy production’s large contribution to methane emissions, its industrialization, and the need to more accurately account for and understand methane emissions, the research group located and inventoried dairy farms across California’s Central Valley using RapidEye imagery and image classification techniques. They used the resulting classifications to create a spatial dataset of dairy farms and used it to help interpret model-generated methane plume data collected over the dairy farms.

This study will ultimately provide insight into an important source of methane and help policy makers, dairy farmers, and management officials make more informed decisions on how best to mitigate methane emissions within the state. Jacob also had the opportunity to attend and present a poster at the Annual Earth Science Applications Showcase at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Thanks to the generous support of donors to the MGIS Annual Fund, the program was able to provide Jacob with a funding supplement to help pay for expenses associated with participating in this outstanding program.