Wisconsin’s Role in Earth Imaging from Geostationary Orbit; How Sea Ice Impacts the World; Diseased, Decayed, Defective & Dangerous: When Good Trees Go Bad; The WiBee App


Wednesdays at 7pm CT in room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI,  or Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59

For 29 June 2022    

Hi WN@TL Fans,

 Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking my family to the site near Buysscheure, France where in August 2016 I participated in a UW-Madison-led mission to find and recover the remains of Lt. Frank Fazekas, a US pilot of a P-47 aircraft shot down on May 27, 1944.

Claire, Will & Kristen, with M. Cooch, whose father witnessed in 1944 the crash of Lt. Fazekas’ P-47 into the field directly behind the four of them

 Part of the recovery saga was the vital role played by aerial reconnaissance photos taken by British pilots a few days after the event.  The photos from 1944 were pivotal in 2015 in pinpointing the location of the crash site.  Without the photos, the recovery team had been depending on the memory of a witness who as a 12-year-old boy had watched the plane crash into a farm field just north of an access road that ran east and west across the field.  However, in 2015 a ground-based lidar scan of the area north of the access road showed no signs of a crash crater. 

 This apparent contradiction was resolved when the 1944 photos showing the site of the crash also showed that the access road in 1944 was about 50 yards south of its current-day position; the access road had likely been moved during the building of the TGV railroad line 40 years ago about 100 yards from the site.  By using triangulation and by overlapping the 1944 photo with 2015 aerial photos, the recovery team was able to locate the likely position of the crash site. Excavation yielded airplane wreckage and, eventually, human remains. 

 Getting a bird’s eye view (and making drawings or taking photos of those views) has long been valued by humans.  We build tall towers, we climb taller mountains, we go aloft in hot-air balloons and in aircraft and we send cameras into the sky in weather balloons and in sounding rockets.  And eventually, we launch satellites with cameras and other sensors into space.  Some satellites orbit moving around the Earth several times a day, while others go into geostationary orbits—that is, they orbit just fast enough to hover over one spot above the Earth.

 This week we get to explore the origins and evolution of the modern-day many-eyed Argus that is the system of GOES geostationary satellites which allows humans to see, record and analyze images & data of the land and seas, of the soils and freshwaters, and of the atmosphere and its weather & climate.  These images provide us perspectives from the past, pictures of the present, and projections into the future.


On June 29 Jean Phillips and Tim Schmit return to WN@TL to paint for us the celestial panorama of “Wisconsin’s Role in Earth Imaging from Geostationary Orbit, 1966-2022″

Description:  Phillips and Schmit will share the story of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s leading role in imaging Earth from geostationary orbit, past and present. The Spin-Scan Cloud Camera, invented at UW and carried on NASA satellites in the 1960s, pioneered continuous viewing of weather from space.

Those technologies were further refined to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, including the most recent satellite in the series, GOES-18, with its high-resolution imaging capabilities. Advancements in data and imagery collection from today’s weather satellites are resulting in better forecasts and warnings to the public, saving countless lives.

Better data, better forecasts and better warnings to the public are saving lives.

Bio:  Tim Schmit works at the Advanced Satellite Products Branch (ASPB) within NOAA’s NESDIS Center of Satellite Applications and Research located in Madison, Wisconsin. Tim had a lead role in the band selection for the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on GOES-R and has played a key science role during the on-orbit check-outs of GOES-8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and now 18. Tim has published over 100 journal articles, several book chapters, and co-edited a book, all associated with some aspect of GOES. Tim received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bio:  As librarian, historian and communicator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center, Jean Phillips has led the development of collections and services to support research and education in the field of satellite meteorology — past and present. She is a past chair of the American Meteorological Society’s History Committee and co-authored a biography of Verner Suomi who is widely known as the ‘father of satellite meteorology.’ She earned her master’s degree from UW-Madison.

Explore More:  http://www.ssec.wisc.edu




On July 6 Till Wagner of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences will temper the summer heat with his talk on “How Sea Ice Impacts the World.”

Description:  Sea ice is a hugely consequential component of the climate system. It impacts the physical configuration of the oceans and atmosphere, it plays a key role in the yearly cycle of the polar ecosystems, it is an integral part of the traditional ways of life in the high Arctic, and it is increasingly perceived as a factor determining Arctic tourism, economic development, and geopolitics.  In this talk I will discuss how sea ice works, and why we’d do well to learn more about it.

Bio:  Till Wagner grew up in southern Germany and moved to the United Kingdom to study physics and philosophy in college. An early focus on modern physics in graduate school soon gave way to a fascination with applied math and its use in the geosciences. Till’s postdoc years brought him to California where he learned about modeling of the climate system, in particular the polar regions. He spent the next three years in North Carolina, teaching physics and physical oceanography and continuing his research on polar climates and ice-ocean interactions. Till joined the UW–Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in July 2021. He once made a stop-motion animation of a giant glacier calving event.  

Explore More:  https://www.tillwagner.me/

Background on Arctic Sea Ice: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

An interesting Blog on Arctic Geopolitics: https://www.cryopolitics.com/



On July 13 Glen Stanosz of Forest & Wildlife Ecology will speak on “Diseased, Decayed, Defective and Dangerous:  When Good Trees Go Bad.”

Description:  Trees provide a variety of benefits to society. But trees also lose branches or break when forces exceed their structural strength or the root-soil connection. Tree failure can cause severe damage to houses and other structures, deny access or use of infrastructure, and injure or kill people. Landowners have legal “duty of care” for trees on their properties, including responsibility to obtain expert assistance when appropriate. Learn how qualified arborists assess tree risk by estimating likelihood of tree failure and impact, and the consequences to property and people. Dr. Glen Stanosz is the UW-Madison emeritus professor of tree and forest health, and is also a certified arborist with the additional qualification in tree risk assessment.

Bio:  Glen Stanosz is a Wisconsin native and the Emeritus Professor of Tree and Forest Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He studies the biology and management of tree diseases caused by fungi, and is a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society.  Glen is an award-winning teacher with students including not just university undergraduates, but also professionals in forestry and the green industry.

Explore More:   https://www.waa-isa.org 



 Hope to see you soon, in person or by zoom, at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H

If you’ll be watching the Zoom for the first time, please register for the WN@TL Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59. 

If you’ve already registered for a previous WN@TL zoom this year, you’re good—you don’t have to register again.

Continue to use the link found in the confirmation message Zoom sent you when you first registered.

WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central.

You can also watch the web stream at the WN@TL YouTube channel.  


UW-Madison:  5.9 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university. 

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at science.wisc.edu for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round. 

Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide

1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59 

2. The WN@TL YouTube channel

3. WN@TL on the University Place broadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin 

4. WN@TL on the University Place website 


Park for a small fee in Lot 20, 1390 University Avenue, Madison, WI