Deepak Mishra

Deepak Mishra is an associate professor in Geography at the University of Georgia (UGA). Dr. Mishra received a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and then worked at the University of New Orleans, Mississippi State University before joining the UGA in 2012.

Dr. Mishra’s research focuses on remote sensing application to five broad areas: (1) vegetation resources (coastal wetlands, terrestrial vegetation, and submerged aquatic vegetation); (2) inland and coastal estuarine water quality (eutrophication and cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms- CyanoHABs); (3) benthic habitats (benthic algae, seagrasses, coral reefs); (4) big data science, social media and crowdsourcing techniques for targeted environmental monitoring; and (5) impact of sea level rise on coastal infrastructure and natural resources. He is particularly interested in monitoring coastal processes and environments under a changing climate. Coastal environments have been steadily subjected to natural and anthropogenic events such as hurricanes, urban and commercial developments, sea level rise, and over fishing. These changes have resulted in wetland loss, water quality degradation, loss of barrier islands, reduced storm surge protection, and decline of fisheries. Continuous monitoring and restoration of the fragile ecosystems is fundamental to life along the coast. Geospatial technologies provide the tools to monitor these ecosystems at large spatial scale and in a timely fashion. Dr. Mishra manages the Remote Sensing and Spectroscopy Lab (RSSL) at UGA.

At UGA, he has been working on two specific research areas very important to our state, (1) studying the impact of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms on inland and coastal water resources and (2) combining Eddy flux tower and satellite data to estimate and monitor carbon sequestration potential of coastal wetlands. Both of these research areas are extremely relevant to Georgia and other southern states because frequent droughts have increased the frequency of toxic algal blooms in the inland freshwater systems and climate change induced sea level rise and urban pollution has been degrading the coast wetland ecosystem. RSSL is focused on developing new methodologies and automated early warning systems using satellite data to monitor the inland water and coastal ecosystems. Frequent and accurate monitoring will help in identifying the triggering mechanism for events such as harmful algal blooms and marsh dieback so that measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate the frequency and severity of these events in the future.

His NSF funded CyanoTRACKER project is aimed at developing a multi-cloud infrastructure called “Meghdoot” which will provide capabilities for early detection of CyanoHABs as well as for integrating and analyzing information from diverse sources over broader landscapes than is possible under the current monitoring systems. CyanoTRACKER project encourages the community to provide their observations regarding the water quality of lakes by sending trustworthy, actionable information via online social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This community-as-sensors paradigm will act as the initial trigger for the traditional sensing infrastructure comprised of high resolution cameras and hyperspectral sensors deployed at the study sites. Data collected by these sensors will be run through models that produce an estimation of cyanobacteria concentration within the water bodies. The project engages students, community leaders, resource managers, and the general public via training, workshops, and social media in various aspects of the research starting from crowdsourcing to environmental sensor deployments, data acquisition, processing, and interpretation.

His NASA funded Blue Carbon project is significant because it will allow scientists and coastal resource managers for the first time to use satellite derived wetland biophysical characteristics to study the Gross Primary Productivity (GPP)/Carbon Sequestration Potential (CSP) of salt marshes. The results and products from this study will be able to answer some of the key conservation and restoration questions such as: a) what is the GPP/CSP variability within different salt marsh species? b) which species is more efficient in sequestering carbon? c) what happens to the CSP of salt marshes after natural and anthropogenic disasters?, and d) what is the effectiveness of particular restoration projects? i.e., how a particular marsh patch is doing over last two decades at any given location? The remote sensing models for salt marsh GPP estimation developed as part of this study will be an extremely important tool for coastal managers and policy makers. This study includes specific efforts to ensure that managers are aware of the newly developed tools, have access to the illustrative and instructional applications, and that their staff can apply the models and generate information in-house to directly inform decision-making. The transition from technical product development to product adaption and use is a key element of this study.

The focus of his coral reef research entitled “Multi- and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Tropical Marine Benthic Habitats” centered on the development of a suite of algorithms using remotely sensed data and radiative transfer models for shallow marine bathymetry estimation and bottom recognition of benthic habitats (corals, seagrass, microalgae) off the coast of Roatan Island, Honduras. Coral reefs and associated habitats are severely endangered around Roatan Island because of the environmental degradation associated with hurricanes and El Nino events, coastal pollution, tourism, and economic development. His research provided solution for minimizing the confounding influences of atmospheric attenuation, water depth, and water column attenuation on the reflectance properties of the benthic habitats.  Incorporation of the atmospheric and water column optical parameters in the model improved the mapping and monitoring the health and spatial extent of the sensitive under-water habitats. The research gave him a unique perspective on human environment interaction. His research has been adopted by marine resource managers working in the Roatan area for habitat conservation practices and also been cited by scientists working in the field of remote sensing of shallow marine environments.

The most important aspect of his research is the broad range of topics it covers encompassing the fields of natural resources, geography, ecology, and environmental sciences. The focus on multidisciplinary nature of research is especially important as he believes, we are better equipped to deal with the impact on the environment by integrating the knowledge gained from various fields. More on Dr. Mishra’s publications and his projects can be found at http://geography.uga.edu/directory/profile/mishra-deepak/