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Thermal Imagery Provides New View of Campus

Tue, 04/08/2008 - 00:00 -- Anonymous (not verified)

by Chris Tomkins-Tinch

SWIR We are using special imagery captured by an RIT research group to show on-campus sustainability challenges. The images above and below will be overlaid in Google Earth to create a qualitative display of on-campus energy usage. So what're we looking at here? The image above image shows short-wave infrared or "thermal" infrared radiation. Regions which appear "dark" in this image are absorbing the most infrared radiation, whereas "light" areas are reflecting the most. Areas such as parking lots, water, and certain building rooftops are absorbing the most short-wave infrared radiation and appear nearly black. These images were all captured during the summer. If you were to touch a parking lot, you'd feel the heat! Many buildings with dark roofs are visible; these buildings would require powerful air conditioning systems to stay cool. A simple change to the building rooftops, such as thermally-reflective foil, has the potential to drastically reduce RIT's energy bill.

These images are aerial photographs of the RIT campus in three separate bands on the infrared spectrum. Infrared imagery allows humans to perceive things which they would not otherwise be able to see. Such photographs are the result of special cameras which are able to detect infrared radiation. Everything with a temperature above absolute zero, be it a star, the Earth, or a human, emits infrared radiation. This range of electromagnetic spectrum is comprised of light which does not have enough energy to be visible by human eyes, but more than would be required to be considered microwaves.

Longwave infrared image of the Rochester Institute of Technology campus:

LWIR

Midwave infrared image of the Rochester Institute of Technology campus:

MWIR

The images above are courtesy of the Laboratory for Imaging Algorithms and Systems of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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