Washington, US: NASA and the US Department of the Interior presented the 2011 William T. Pecora awards to Alan H. Strahler, professor of geography and environment at Boston University, and to the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing.
Strahler was recognised for his contributions to remote-sensing science, leadership and education, which have improved the fundamental understanding of the remote-sensing process and its applications for observing land surface properties. The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing received the group award for outstanding collaboration across national boundaries.
The awards were presented at the Pecora 18 Symposium by Michael Freilich, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate and Lori Caramanian, Department of the Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for water and science.
“Understanding of our home planet and predicting future global environmental changes require both individual technical efforts and worldwide collaborations,” Freilich said. “This year’s awards acknowledge just how important sustained, decades-long efforts by individuals and nations are to Earth science and the benefits they can bring to the world.”
Strahler’s early theoretical contributions in describing the interactions of light with forest trees led to realistic and quantifiable approaches employed today in many areas of remote sensing. Strahler also advanced the field of image analysis by developing new methods for incorporating spatial information. His innovative methods for incorporating spatial information such as size, shape and texture in the interpretation of remotely sensed image data were important in the coupling of remote sensing with geographic information systems.
The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing was recognised for advancing the understanding of Earth over a period of 40 years through the development of important technologies and innovative applications.
The award was established in 1974 to honour the memory of William T. Pecora, former director of the US Geological Survey and undersecretary of the Department of the Interior. Pecora was influential in the establishment of the Landsat satellite programme, which created a continuous, nearly 40-year record of Earth’s land areas.