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Light & Life Laboratory

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Understanding Light and Life Interactions


The Light & Life Laboratory of the Department of Physics & Engineering Physics is primarily interested in the interactions of light with living organisms in our environment and in using light as a diagnostic and predictive tool for studying our environment. The release of man-made trace gases and the burning of fossil fuels pose a potential threat in terms of ozone depletion and increased exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation as well as a warmer climate. A proper understanding of light and life interactions is a prerequisite for finding mitigation methods.

The ozone layer forms a thin shield in the upper atmosphere, protecting life on Earth from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that is found in two layers of the atmosphere. In the layer surrounding the Earth's surface the troposphere ground-level or bad ozone is an air pollutant that is a key ingredient of urban smog. The troposphere extends up to the stratosphere, which is where good ozone protects life on Earth by absorbing some of the sun's UV rays.

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Remote Sensing from Space

The ocean color changes with the concentration of phytoplankton. The different types of phytoplankton have different concentrations of chlorophyll, and thus represent different colors to the sensitive satellite instruments.

 


Light & Life Lab Projects

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One of our current research interests is focused on the use of satellite data for retrieval of atmospheric and surface properties in high-latitude environments where snow and ice cover is prevalent for large portions of the year. Another interest is remote sensing of ocean color and the development of accurate methods for such retrieval. We are currently working on algorithms suitable for retrieval of atmospheric and aquatic parameters in coastal waters, building on an algorithm designed for open ocean water. A third major interest is to develop methods and algorithms for identifying and monitoring the health of coral reefs from space.

More information: Light and Life Laboratory

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Knut Stamnes
Professor and Department Director
Burchard
Room 712
Phone: 201.216.8194
Fax: 201.216.5638

Email: kstamnes@stevens.edu

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