Eric's main research interests revolve around the intersection between light and the function of tropical and subtropical shallow-water ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. Visible light is the primary energy source for these ecosystems, but water column optical properties alter both the quantity and quality of light available to the benthos for primary production. Thus, knowledge of shallow water optical properties is fundamental to understanding ecosystem function. Light itself can also be used as a tool, through inversion of remote sensing data, to measure various aspects of the ecosystem. In practice, much of Eric's research has focused on development and application of in situ optical and remote sensing methods to study various aspects of coral reef system function, at scales of centimeters to hundreds of kilometers.
Coral Reef Remote Sensing: Eric's work in this area has included sensor design, satellite mission development, algorithm development and implementation, image processing, optical calibration/validation, ecological calibration/validation, and scientific interpretation of image products.
Reef Biogeochemistry: Over the past two years, Eric has begun to develop a remote sensing approach for estimating community- to reef-scale primary production based on optical absorbance and light-use efficiency.
Bio-Optics: The interaction of light with organisms continues to be an area of professional interest. To this end, Eric has constructed a model that accurately predicts coral photosynthetic pigment concentration based on rapid, non-invasive measurements of optical reflectance; he has developed a similar model to predict zooxanthellae density. There is clear potential for these simple optical measurements to provide for routine in situ monitoring of coral status. As technology and inversion algorithms advance, the same models can eventually be used for remote sensing of “coral reef color.”
Water Optical Properties: One of his research interests is measuring spectral optical properties (absorption, beam attenuation, volume scattering, diffuse attenuation) across space and time. Eric's goal is to link these measurements with physical forcings to generate a model for predicting optical properties which, in turn, can be used to drive biogeochemical models.
Click here for a full list of Dr. Hochberg's publications.