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030_ Interview: Satellites & python | mapping the marble

21 October, 2021 - 3 min read

030_ Interview: Satellites & python | mapping the marble

Why helloooo there, and thank you for tapping into this episode of _bandwidth: coast to coast.

This episode, as are many that are getting released in this next batch, was recorded several months ago. Nearly 8 months to be exact. So forgive a few dated portions of the conversation, such as the Delta variant just getting ramped up in the UK.

But other than that bit of ancient history, the remainder of this interview is quite timeless. That is, until we stop using python as a programming language.

For this installment, I asked a previous guest at the University of Leicester to come back on and talk more about the tools he uses, and ways he uses them for his analysis of forests using satellite data.

Being a bit of a developer myself, I got my interest peaked last we spoke, about how he uses python, one of the simplest and most ubiquitous programming languages in use today.

So I asked him to come back on and talk with me more in detail about the technologies that he uses, the various libraries therein and how to get someone who’s interested in this to get going.

There are parts of this episode that get a bit technical, even with that fair warning, I encourage the less technical of my listeners out there to give it a go. If for nothing else to understand better the technologies that like it or not, are quickly becoming commonplace.

To give you some background, the majority of machine learning and AI programming is done with python. Using some of the very libraries, or packages of code, that Dr. Baltzer is talking about in our chat.

Through this step by step walkthrough of how Dr. Balzter does his work, you’ll get a front-row seat to some really amazing things that are being done, to better understand climate change’s effects, and what steps are being taken.

Using computer analysis to spot that an area is trending towards a drought, leveraging satellite data to help farmers with their crop insurance, or even to just get a look at what the effects the change in climate are having on our planet.

Some very illuminating prospects for now and the future, on what can be done with this satellite image data.

And, well, if this technical portion proves to be maddening, skip past a bit because Dr. Balzter brings me out of the technical forest and ends the chat talking about some of the most beautiful areas to view from the heavens above. He even goes into where he enjoys watching the weather, with some great stories along the way.

To those of you who may be listening to this that are developers, getting started in developing, or are currently bashing your head against a wall trying to solve a problem in your code, I have a bit of wisdom to transform for you from Dr. Balzter.

It’s not how good you are in comparison to others in programming, but how disciplined you are and diligent in chasing your ideas, for even not that great programmer can win a copernicus award for their code. A truth that extends far beyond just the zeros and ones.

With that, and no further ado, my interview with Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester, Dr. Heiko Balzter. Enjoy!

-J.R.

This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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