This course covers the theory and application of satellite remote sensing as a tool for environmental science. Topics include the fundamentals of electromagnetic radiation, reflection and absorption, satellite and sensor technology, map projections, integration of GIS data, and digital image analysis. A significant portion of the course is dedicated to individual student projects. Instructors and Yale Center for Earth Observation (YCEO) Staff will assist students in designing a research project of their choice that will use the image analysis techniques they learn in the early stages of this course.

The lectures and lab exercises during the first third of the course provide a foundation to work with satellite images. You will receive practical training with advanced image processing software and internet data acquisition techniques.

The second third of the course covers a series of environmental case studies using remote sensing and GIS techniques to answer a particular question. These lectures and lab assignments may include applications in: forest harvesting and land use, geomorphology, ecology and infectious disease, climate studies, and/or monitoring agricultural practices. There is also a half-day ground truth field trip on Saturday 12 April 2014.

The final third of the course consists of lectures on advanced techniques. In place of assigned lab exercises, students work on their independent research projects, applying remote sensing techniques to satellite images. Teaching Assistants, YCEO Staff, and Instructors are available to assist students in exploring advanced techniques in their projects.

You can view a Google Earth Tour of a few student projects here.

Check out the OEFS working page to find course resource information, syllabus, lab schedules, etc.


College level physics or chemistry, two courses in geology or other environmental sciences and computer literacy.

Application Procedure:

Students wishing to take the course must apply using the form available online or provided at the first lecture. This form must be submitted at the YCEO Lab in ESC 119 by Noon on Wednesday January 15, 2014. This will allow us time to create student accounts in the YCEO system and assign students to a specific lab session.

Meeting Time and Place:

Lectures - Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 - 10:15 AM in the Environmental Science Center in room ESC 110
Labs - One two-hour session weekly. Depending on size of the student enrollment, there will be between three and five lab sections held on Thursday afternoon and evening and/or Friday afternoon at the YCEO Lab in room ESC 119.


Campbell, J and R. Wynne, Introduction to Remote Sensing, 5th Edition, The Guilford Press, 2011.


Xuhui Lee (F&ES) – plus Karen Seto (F&ES), Maria Diuk-Wasser (EPH), Walter Jetz (EEB) and other faculty and staff

Graded Work:

Weekly lab reports, mid-term exam, student research project