Light and Life Laboratory


Our vision is to become a world leader in remote sensing of the environment and in the development of instruments for measuring environmental changes.

The name of our laboratory is meant to reflect that we are primarily interested in the interactions of light with living organisms in our environment and in using light as a diagnostic and predictive tool for studying our environment.

The release of man-made trace gases and the burning of fossil fuels pose a potential threat to our environment in terms of ozone depletion and increased exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation as well as a warmer climate.

A proper understanding of light and life interaction is a prerequisite for the technical innovation that will be required to mitigate and prevent harmful effects of these environmental changes.

Research Areas

One of our current research interests is focused on the use of satellite data for retrieval of atmospheric and surface properties in high-latitude environments where snow and ice cover is prevalent for large portions of the year. Another interest is remote sensing of ocean color and the development of accurate methods for such retrieval. We are currently working on algorithms suitable for retrieval of atmospheric and aquatic parameters in coastal waters, building on an algorithm designed for open ocean water. A third major interest is to develop methods and algorithms for identifying and monitoring the health of coral reefs from space.

Current Projects

  • Polarized Radiative Transfer Model Development for the coupled atmosphere/snow/sea-ice/ocean system.

  • Cloud screening for earth observation satellites by using machine learning technique.

  • Ocean color remote sensing for coastal/open ocean area.

  • Snow/ice physical properties and albedo retrieval from space.

  • Surface UV radiation and ozone measurement

  • Tethered Balloon system for measurements in the near-surface atmosphere


  • Knut Stamnes - Director

  • Wei Lei - Research Associate Professor

  • Nan Chen - Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Yongzhen Fan - Postdoctoral Researcher


The Light and Life Laboratory works with many partners in order to achieve its research goals.

  • Charles K. Gatebe, Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

  • Masahiro Hori, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

  • Teruo Aoki, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University, Japan

  • Tomonori Tanikawa, Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological Agency

  • Wonkook Kim, Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Seoul, South Korea

  • Jae-Hyun Ahn, Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Seoul, South Korea

  • Yonghang Chen, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Donghua University, China