Practice English Speaking&Listening with: New England Agriculture & Food Security - NASA DEVELOP Summer 2018 @ GSFC

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Ryan Young: Honey bees are vital component to global agriculture.

They contribute $15 billion dollars annually to the United States economy,

are the third most important livestock, and help promote

the health of urban vegetation.

More 90% of crops are visited and pollinated from this species.

Think about it this way, a third of the food on

your plate could be lost without honey bees.

Their success is crucial for our livelihoods; however, their

populations have been dwindling and its about time we get to

the bottom of it.

Scientists have pondered the drivers of their health for years.

Some of the environmental factors impacting their success

and failure include vegetation and chemical inputs from

agriculture, urbanization of natural landscapes, climate change, and invasive pests.

Now its time to solve this problem from space.

Eyob Solomon: Wait, what?

Ryan: Hang tight, well get there.

In an effort to address these issues in an innovative way, we created a tool

using Google Earth Engine to leverage satellite data.

We looked at the most recent trends from January 2016 through May of 2018 in both urban and

rural landscapes.

In addition, with the help of our project partners, we able to incorporate citizen science

data related to unique hive conditions provided by

hobbyist beekeepers.

Ryan: So Kelly, tell us whats going on with honey bees.

Kelly Kulhanek: So, since about 2007, theres been a lot of concern

regarding the state of honey bees.

So, commercial beekeepers all over the country started reporting

really intense levels of losses where the worker population in their colonies was

just completely vanishing.

And this really sounded the alarm for researchers to sort of step in and start investigating

what was going on.

So, this large scale satellite data that NASA DEVELOP is helping us use is really going

to enable us to make large scale correlations about the

factors were seeing in honey bees and the physical interactions that theyre having

with their landscapes.

Ryan: This project incorporated Landsat and Sentinel-2 images used to measure

vegetation health and water content in leaves.

We used the Cropland Data Layer to calculate percentage

of land cover, and components of the NASA Earth Observation System to determine precipitation,

elevation, and soil moisture relative to individual hives.

The development of this tool further reveals the environmental factors

affecting honey bee populations.

We hope that being able to incorporate this satellite data into future

research will create a more robust understanding of how we can ensure a healthy future for honey

bees.

So next time you go swatting that nuisance, make sure to consider

the implications of your mild inconvenience.

The Description of New England Agriculture & Food Security - NASA DEVELOP Summer 2018 @ GSFC