Geography 5120/6120
Environmental Optics

Professor: Dr. Philip Dennison
Meets Monday and Wednesday, 3:00-4:20 PM, 215 OSH


The interactions between light and matter are fundamental to remote sensing and Earth's climate.  This course explores the complex interactions between electromagnetic radiation and the Earth's surface and atmosphere.

Course topics include:
  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Reflection, Refraction, Absorption, and Transmission of Light
  • Solar and Satellite Geometries
  • Modeling Transmission of Light through the Atmosphere (Radiative Transfer)
  • Calibration and Correction of Remote Sensing Data
  • Spectral Mixing Models
  • Energy Flux and Net Radiation

Environmental Optics is quantitatively based.  Students will get hands-on experience with laboratory equipment including lasers, prisms, and spectrometers.  Labs will demonstrate and prove concepts of atmospheric absorption, refraction, and directional reflection.  Microsoft Excel will be used to calculate equations and graph results.  Previous experience with Excel is not required.

Through this course, students will gain a new understanding of remote sensing, climate modeling, and phenomena present in everyday life. 

Requirements: Exams will consist of 2 take-home midterms and a take-home final.  Students will also be required to complete lab assignments.  

Prerequisites: For undergraduate students, MATH 1050 or PHYS 1010, and GEOG 3110 are recommended.   

For more information, contact Phil Dennison: