College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Remote Sensing Used to Determine Health of Mdloti Estuary

Nature enthusiast, Mr Matthew Ellero, graduated with an MSc degree in Environmental Science from UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

After successfully completing a BSc degree and his Honours in Environmental Science, Ellero chose to incorporate two of his passions for his MSc research – Environmental Science and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

‘I knew from my first module that GIS and remote sensing was a field I would love to specialise in,’ said Ellero. ‘I would not have chosen a master’s in any other field. Since estuaries were a hot topic during my undergrad biology modules, research for the degree allowed me to combine my passion for biology and GIS/remote sensing.’

In his research, which was supervised by Dr Michael T Gebreslasie, Ellero used remote sensing imagery from Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 remote sensors to estimate a wide variety of physico-chemical parameters present within the water of the Mdloti Estuary near Durban. He developed algorithms to estimate the parameters present.

‘While my master’s would need to be greatly expanded upon to be of more use, there is certainly potential,’ said Ellero. ‘If the algorithms can be further refined over a long period of time, there will be benefits. These may mostly eliminate the need for expensive and time consuming lab and field testing and sampling. It may also allow for a rapid and easy to use early warning system to check up on the health of the estuary. This would allow for quick action to be taken to improve on its health.’

Ellero hopes to build a lifelong career in the GIS and remote sensing industry. ‘I am currently looking for a job so I can start enjoying the fruits of all my hard work. Who knows, maybe one day I will have a remote sensor named after me,’ he quipped.

Words: Zolile Duma

Photo: Supplied