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Remote Sensing


Environmental remote sensing research focuses on the measurement and interpretation of properties within the subsurface of Earth, its lands, oceans, and ice sheets, through the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, and upwards into the ionosphere and thermosphere. A wide range of spaceborne, airborne, and ground- and ship-based instrumentation is used, including active and passive instrumentation operating from the VLF radio range through the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum. Research into new instrument development specifically focuses on active and passive microwave instrumentation, for which the ECEE Center for Environmental Technology has a wide range of state-of-art passive microwave imaging systems ( Applications of environmental remote sensing include hydrology, cryospheric science, agriculture, meteorology, weather forecasting, climate studies, oceanography, disaster management, and natural resource development. In addition, remote sensing instrumentation for navigation, collision avoidance, guidance, and tracking of objects is developed within CET. In general, a systems engineering approach to measurement problems is used requiring student to be adept at more than one narrow area of expertise, but including expertise in electromagnetics and optics, advanced signal processing, and remote sensing systems architecture. Students are also encouraged to participate in the campus-wide certificate program in remote sensing.

The CET is directed by Prof. Albin J. Gasiewski, previously Chief of the Division of Microwave Systems Development at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory and 2004-2005 President of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society. The CET works extensively with Research Profs. Nikolay Zabotin and Ute Herzfeld, who specialize in upper atmospheric and cryospheric remote sensing, respectively. Additional collaboration occurs with members of the local laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CU Laboratory for Space Physics (LASP) and with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

Graduate Courses

ECEN 5004, Environmental/Stochastic Signal Processing ECEN 5254, Remote Sensing Signals and Systems
ECEN 5264, Electromagnetic Absorption, Scattering, and Propagation
ECEN 5274, Radar Science and Techniques

Other selected courses in signal processing and electromagnetics, including
ECEN 5114, Waveguides and Transmission Lines
ECEN 5134, Electromagnetic Radiation and Antennas
ECEN 5612, Noise and Random Processes
ECEN 5632, Theory and Application of Digital Filtering
ECEN 5642, Modern Methods of Spectral Estimation
ECEN 5652. Detection and Extraction of Signals from Noise

Courses in atmospheric science, astrophysics, and aerospace engineering are also recommended.

Research Topics

Current research topics include the design and development of a spaceborne fleet of passive microwave weather and climate sensing satellites, development of sensors for precision agriculture on small unmanned aerial vehicles, the design of all-weather imaging systems for aircraft, propagation modeling at radio-to-optical wavelengths, propagation in random media, ionospheric sounding and wave modeling, assimilation of data into weather forecast models, environmental forecasting for renewable energy, processing and interpretation of cryospheric data (altimetry and passive microwave imagery, and the development of cryospheric remote sensing systems.


A. Gasiewski (Ph.D Massachusetts Institute of Technology), passive and active remote sensing of atmospheric and oceanographic processes, radiative transfer theory, signal detection, estimation, and assimilation, RF, microwave, and submillimeter-wave instrumentation, calibration and metrology, meteorology and climatology, and airborne and spaceborne systems for remote sensing applications.

U.C. Herzfeld (Dr. rer. nat., Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, 1986), geomathematics and remote sensing; satellite geophysics; Earth Observation from space; algorithm development for new sensors; altimetry; ICESat-2; cryospheric sciences (Greenland, Antarctica, Alaska, ice sheets and glaciers, fast-moving glaciers, sea ice), development of new sensors for ice observations and field deployments; airborne and spaceborne systems for remote sensing applications; spatial statistics, geostatistics and signal processing; mathematical descriptions of complexity and scale dependence; spatial surface roughness; geodesy (GPS); geophysical processes; ecology (remote sensing of canopy and ground).

N. Zabotin (D.Sc. ("Habilitation") in physics and mathematics from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, 1995); development of the next generation of ionospheric sounding techniques; new methods for plasma irregularity diagnostics; theoretical and experimental studies of the multiple scattering effects in irregular ionospheric plasma; applications of passive noise interferometry in oceanography; statistical properties of angular variations of microwave background radiation in cosmology; connections between the infragravity wave activity in the ocean and acoustic gravity waves in the atmosphere.


Experimental work is performed both within the CET laboratory and the CET rooftop observatory on the ECEE building, but also at a number of nearby sites including the Department of Commerce NOAA-NIST facility in Boulder and the NOAA Boulder Atmospheric Observatory. Extensive use is made of NASA aircraft, including the P-3B, DC-8, WB-57F, and ER-2, and ships. Experimental field campaigns have taken place at the DoE ARM sites at the North Slope of Alaska and in north-central Oklahoma; Matanuska Glacier, Alaska; NASA Wallops Island, VA; NASA Johnson Space Center, TX; Dryden Flight Research Center, CA; and remote bases of aircraft operation in Thule, Greenland; Kiruna, Sweeden; Fukushima AFB, Japan; Puenta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Fairbanks, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Tucson, AZ; Colorado Springs, CO; Miami, FL; and Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. Facilities and expertise are available in CEt and on campus for instrument prototyping, environmental hardening, and system simulation using multicore processors.

Current Research Support

Remote sensing research support is provided by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Energy, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Assistantships funded by these and other agencies as well as a number of companies working with ECEE remote sensing faculty are sought for qualified students.