EO4GEO presents the winners of the Icon Group Student Essay Competition 2021: Tessa Buckley
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Tessa. Currently, I’m studying Environmental Science at the University of Reading in my third and final year. I cannot define my enthusiasm for studying the environment into one field, I found the love for earth observation firstly through the amazing ability to discover the environmental world from anywhere on the globe all from my computer. Growing up in the countryside of North Yorkshire, England, I’m well accustomed to the importance of looking after the natural environment and wish to continue this across the world.
2. Why did you choose to study this?
Mangrove forests are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world when it comes to climate change impacts. With global mean sea level predicted by the IPCC to rise between 0.43 m and 0.84 m by 2100, low lying coastal areas like the Barisal River Delta mangroves are highly threatened to be submerged. Many consequences arise from this threat, briefly including loss to ecosystems diversity, economic cost, social costs (for example loss of housing, jobs, displacement) and political uncertainty. Bangladesh itself is highly vulnerable to all these costs as a developing country reliant on agriculture in these low-lying areas to fuel the economy. Therefore it was ideal to pair this study with my second year module: Monitoring the Earth from Space. As my study area is on the front-line of sea level rise impacts, it is a prime example of what climate change can cause and proof that immediate action must be taken to protect these areas. Mangrove ecosystems are not only a richly diverse habitat but provide a natural defence against sea level rise — protecting inland society.
NDVI (derived from Landsat-5 in my study) is great for mapping vegetation change spatially and temporally. By mapping the Barisal River Delta from 1988 to 2010, the change in mangrove cover can be compared to past, present and future climate change trends.
3. Tell us a bit about your essay and what motivated you to join the competition?
My essay delves into the changes in vegetation cover experienced in the Barisal River Delta mangroves, Bangladesh, from 1988 to 2010. Via Landsat-5 imagery, spectral bands 1 to 5 and band 7 are used to map NDVI values across the study area. Significant vegetation increase and decrease are mapped with visual-ease to assist the unpicking of why mangrove cover may have changed. I delve into some discussion points to evaluate the impacts of climate change on the area.
As the competition theme is ‘Looking at the environment,’ I thought my study was perfect. NDVI is a tool that creates visually amazing maps by the use of false-colour composites. Not only this, but sea level rise and climate change are at the forefront of the media and scientific world today so I hoped by joining the competition the relevance of this study will be scientifically useful and engaging for everyone. The prospect of exposing my work into the professional world motivated me hugely when entering the competition, as the opportunities The Icon Group has given young students like myself an offer I wouldn’t want to miss.
4. What are the challenges that you experience as a student/ young professional trying to get on the job market?
Through my experience the main challenge I faced is the first step onto the job ladder: work experience. After many emails and form-fillings to find work experience and few, if any, replies — the difficulty of gaining work experience has limited me for applying to roles which require previous experience. Despite this, graduate schemes and internships offered through universities have helped close this dilemma though it is still a challenge. Entering this competition through The Icon Group has opened my eyes to interesting and welcoming ways of entering the job market, since as a student, I have not been immediately exposed to the wider aspects of the job market outside of emailing and applying for jobs through online forms. It is nice as a young student to receive recognition for my research and writing through this competition.