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IALC Peace Fellowship Report 29 May - 2 July 1997

Kevin G. Kleinjan 
Undergraduate Student
College of Agriculture & Biological Science 
and College of Arts and Sciences 

South Dakota State University

Water Use by Tree and Shrub Forms of Dryland Oaks

The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) has established the Peace Fellowship Program to allow undergraduate students to work closely with scientists from around the world that are working on projects funded by the IALC....The Peace Fellowship that I received was for 34 days, from May 29 - July 2, 1997.

The IALC-funded research project I had the opportunity of assisting with is titled "Wildlife Rangeland Monitoring by Remote-Sensing of the Negev Desert"....My particular task was to compare remote sensing images of the Maktesh Ramon (a crater in the Negev Desert), using various vegetation indices that took into consideration the reflectance values of both soil and vegetation. During the rainy season, the wadis in the Maktesh come alive with vegetation, but during the dry season, vegetation is much sparser. The soils in the Maktesh can have reflectance values similar to vegetation, resulting in excessive amounts of vegetation being predicted for this area. This is a problem in many arid regions...not just in the Maktesh. Once the various vegetation indices were compared with each other, areas of difference between the images stood out. I made a map of the Maktesh that showed each of these areas of difference and then created a database that indicated how these areas appeared using the different vegetation index comparison. I also met with a geologist and geomorphologist from the Ramon Science Center to determine the geology and lithology of the areas I selected. This data was added to my database. Armed with my maps and database, I collected rock and/or soil samples representative of the 45 sites I had delineated. Next, I took the samples back to the Remote Sensing Lab at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research to be further analyzed. In the lab, I took light measurements of each sample using a spectrometer and then calculated the chromaticity coordinates for each.

The overall significance of this work is to determine how much reflectance the different soil and rock areas of the Maktesh Ramon have, and how this is related to the reflectance values from remotely sensed images. Once this correlation has been made, it will be possible to discern more easily what is soil and what is vegetation in images of sparsely vegetated regions such as the Maktesh Ramon....The results of these tests can also be used to differentiate between different geological formations in arid regions.

Working both in the lab and in the Maktesh Ramon gave me an excellent opportunity to see first-hand the difference between how an area really appears and how technology perceives it. Having the chance to gather samples from the Maktesh Ramon also gave me an excellent opportunity to view different vegetation and animals that inhabit arid regions, as well as see how humans interact with the region....

Living and working at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research in Sde Boker was a unique experience for me. The campus is basically an oasis in the desert that is very scenic and secluded. It has a real family atmosphere and I quickly made friends with many of the inhabitants. Many of these were not from Israel originally; their homelands included Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, England, China, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, and the USA. Games of Ultimate Frisbee with the graduate students provided a welcome physical relief and an excellent opportunity to socialize with a very diverse group of individuals.

I was also able to occasionally hop on a bus and visit various attractions in the area such as an archaeological dig at one of the Nabitean trade centers and the Visitors' Center at Maktesh Ramon. These and scenic walks at night down some of the nearby canyons were excellent opportunities for me to do some self-study into the land and how past cultures lived on it.

From my experiences, I took with me many things. I gained a deeper understanding of technological systems and the potentials these can have for man's deeper understanding of nature. I viewed the natural processes associated with an arid region and what man can do to reduce the negative effects of his actions. I saw the struggle a country with a long and rich history can have when faced with "growing pains." Most important, I gained cultural awareness of the many different ways of life and attitudes co-existing within the confines of a very small country and of their efforts towards peace with neighboring countries and collaboration among themselves. All of these observations have helped me to grow to understand more of what happens in the world, extending my knowledge and comfort zone past the United States' borders to encompass new areas of the world. The Peace Fellowship made this growing process possible. Continued efforts like this increase the opportunities for people all over the world to share ideas and technology in an effort to resolve our differences and support each other in our efforts to achieve peace among people and the land.