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How do I use open source remote sensing data in Google Earth Engine?

Our second Tech Tutors Season 2 Episode featured Fauna and Flora International's Harriet Branson who tackled the question: How do I use open source remote sensing data in Google Earth Engine? Watch it on the WILDLABS Youtube Channel! You can also ask Harriet questions, discuss this topic, and collaborate with other participants in our episode forum thread, and see our collaborative notes doc here.

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About the Series

Introducing the second season of WILDLABS Tech Tutors, our series that focuses on answering the "how do I do that?" questions of conservation tech. Launched with the support of Microsoft AI for Earth, this series will give you the bite-sized, easy-to-understand building blocks you'll need to broaden your conservation technology horizons, enhance your research, or launch a new collaborative project.

Taking place every Thursday, each Tech Tutor will present a 30 minute tutorial guiding you through an aspect of conservation tech, followed by a 30 minute live Q&A session with the audience.

Tech Tutors is made for conservation tech beginners of all knowledge levels (and yes, even experts can still be beginners when it comes to tackling a new aspect of conservation tech or starting a new project!), and because we know that there's always more to learn in the #tech4wildlife world, that's why we're so excited to bring you a brand-new season of WILDLABS Tech Tutors! With presentations that will take you even deeper into those tricky "how do I do that?" questions of conservation tech, we hope you'll discover new perspectives and ideas to bring to your own #tech4wildlife work.

For participants, the outcome will be an increased sense of confidence in their technological skills, the ability to actively build off of the skills discussed in these tutorials, and an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other members of the WILDLABS community. Read about the first season's community highlights here.

Our goal is to customize these tutorials to fit the needs of the community and address your needs, so let us know what you want to see in this season and beyond.

Can't make it? You can find every tutorial after it airs on our Youtube channel.

The links for the scripts Harriet used in the epsiode are below:

False colour Landsat 8 Visualisation

Landsat 8 NDVI

Sentinel-2 cloud free mosaic

Meet your Tutor: Harriet Branson, Fauna & Flora International

Harriet is part of the Analytics team at Fauna & Flora International. She completed an MSc in Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in the analysis of Sentinel-1 SAR and forest density mapping using LiDAR. She is currently working on various conservation projects involving habitat mapping, species distribution modelling, geostatistical analysis, land cover, and land use change mapping. This, and the desire for quick and robust analysis without downloading lots of data, has led Harriet to become well-versed in using Google Earth Engine with open-source satellite imagery (and related by-products), using it to generate cloud-free mosaics, (un)supervised classifications, and manipulating/visualising indices.

We asked Harriet...

What will I learn in this episode?

  • What is Google Earth Engine (GEE), and getting acquainted with the platform
  • How to access the freely available remote sensing datasets
  • How to create a cloud-free sentinel-2 mosaic
  • A little bit of raster interpretation and visualisation in GEE
  • How can I learn more about this subject?

How can I learn more about this subject?

There are many resources for GEE popping up every day, and a simple google of ‘GEE tutorials’ will bring up thousands of results! If you are a beginner, and want to learn a bit more about GEE and how to get started, I’d recommend the Google Earth Engine Beginner’s Cookbook. I’d also recommend learning a bit more about the JavaScript programming language, and a great resource for this is the Introduction to JavaScript for Earth Engine booklet. For those who want to learn more about specific topics using GEE, I’d really recommend the NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) which cover a whole range of topics with really easy to follow tutorials. They just finished a great set of tutorials using GEE for mangrove mapping and monitoring.

If I want to take the next step using this technology, where should I start?

The Google Earth YouTube channel has loads of really great GEE tutorials, for broad topics to specific use cases. I really like this ‘Hands-on Earth Engine algorithms’ by Nicholas Clinton, which covers classification, phenology modelling, terrain visualisation and spectral unmixing for those who really want to step up their GEE capability. Similar to above too, the NASA ARSET training is a great place to go for more specific tutorials that are easy to follow.

What advice do you have for a complete beginner in this subject?

My advice for people wanting to get into using GEE is to not feel too overwhelmed. You don’t need to be a coding whizz or proficient in JavaScript to get going, and there are lots of great step by step tutorials that will guide you and explain the process so you can learn as you go along. Not to mention there are a whole host of forums that have lots of friendly people willing to help and answer more specific questions, such as gis.stackexchange, Twitter (using #GEE or #EarthEngine) and a GEE reddit.

Learn more about our upcoming Tech Tutorials

Visit the series page on WILDLABS to find the full list of WILDLABS Tech Tutors.


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