Chris Roelfsema
Chris Roelfsema


Research fellow and Lecturer Remote Sensing, Remote Sensing Research Centre


Room: 35-416B
Phone: 336-56977
Google Scholar site ResearchGate site


  • 2009 PhD Coral Reef Remote Sensing
  • 1999 Degree PG.Dip. Marine Botany
  • 1993 Msc. Geodetic engineering
  • 1989 Bsc Hydrographic Surveying

Professional Associations

  • Australian Coral Reef Society
  • International Coral Reef Society
  • American Geophysical Union


2012- Research Fellow Coastal and Marine Remote Sensing
2010-2012 Lecturer Remote Sensing
2008-2010 Postdoctoral Research Fellow for RSRC
2006-2008 Research Assistant for CRSSIS (now RSRC)
1999-2006 Research Assistant for Centre of Marine Studies and CRSSIS (now RSRC)
1996-1998 SCUBA Diving instructor in Jamaica and Malaysia
1993-1996 Development of Geographical Information Systems for Dutch Government

Remote Sensing working experience in coastal environments varying: in their water clarity, reef type, species composition (coral, seagrass, algae and mangrove) and also their level of natural or anthropogenic disturbance. These environments are located in Australia, Fiji, Palau, Indonesia, Belize, Solomon’s, New Caledonia, Marshall Islands, and the Cook Islands.

Capacity building through: teaching in under and post graduate courses; national and international workshops; and development of remote sensing toolkit

Research Interests

Pure research, to determine which biophysical properties of coral reefs and associated waters can be measured and monitored from operational and research based remote sensing systems; and
Applied research, developing mapping and monitoring programs for government agencies and non- government agencies using geo-referenced field survey, remote sensing and other spatial information. Monitoring ecosystem health of coral reefs & seagrass habitats.
Integration of field and remote sensing image data for calibration and validation data, where field data can be sourced from: photo transects using snorkelers, divers, Automated Underwater Vehicles, or from community monitoring initiative such Coral Watch, Reef Check, SeagrassWatch.

Research Students

Principal Supervision of PhD students
Associate Supervision of PhD students


Selected Publications

Roelfsema, C. M., M. Lyons, E. M. Kovacs, P. Maxwell, M. I. Saunders, J. Samper-Villarreal, and S.R. Phinn. (2014). "Multi-Temporal Mapping of Seagrass Cover, Species and Biomass: A Semi-Automated Object Based Image Analysis Approach." Remote Sensing of Environment
Saunders, M.I, J. X Leon, D.P. Callaghan,., C.M. Roelfsema, S. Hamylton, C.J. Brown, T. Baldock, A. Golshani,. S.R. Phinn, C.E. Lovelock, O Hoegh-Guldberg, , C. Woodroffe, P.J. Mumby, (2014) Interdependency of tropical marine ecosystems in response to climate change. Nature Climate Change.
Roelfsema, C.M., E. Kovacs, S.R. Phinn, M. Lyons, M. Saunders and P. Maxwell (2013) Challenges of Remote Sensing for Quantifying Changes in Large Complex Seagrass Environments. In Journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Joyce, K.E., S.R. Phinn, and C.M. Roelfsema (2013) Live Coral Cover Index Testing and Application with Hyperspectral Airborne Image Data. Remote Sensing
Roelfsema C.M. and S.R. Phinn (Feb 2013) Validation Chapter 14, In: Coral Reef Remote Sensing: A Guide for Multi-level Sensing Mapping and Assessment. Goodman, J., Purkis, S. and Phinn, S.R. Springer Publishing
Roelfsema, C.M., S.R. Phinn, S. Jupiter, J. Comley, S. Albert, and P. Mumby (2013) Mapping Coral Reefs at Reef to Reef-System scales (10-600 km2) using OBIA Driven Ecological and Geomorphic Principles. Special issue on coral reefs in International Journal of Remote Sensing.
Megan S., J. Leon, K.R. O’Brien, S.R. Phinn. D.P. Callaghan, K.R. Obrien, C.M. Roelfsema, C.E. Lovelock, M. Lyons, and P.J. Mumby . (2013-accepted) Interactive Effects Of Predicted Sea Level Rise, Coastal Development And Water Quality On Seagrass
Murray, N., S. Phinn, R. Clemens, C. Roelfsema and R. Fuller (2012). Continental Scale Mapping of Tidal Flats across East Asia Using the Landsat Archive. Remote Sensing 4(11): 3417-3426. doi:10.3390/rs4113417
Lyons, M.B., Phinn, S.R., Roelfsema, C.M., (2012). Long term land cover and seagrass mapping using Landsat and object-based image analysis from 1972 to 2010 in the coastal environment of South East Queensland, Australia. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. 120, 145–155 (doi: j.isprsjprs.2012.05.002)
Hedley, J.D., C.M., Roelfsema, S.R. Phin and P Mumby (2012) Environmental and Sensor Limitations in Optical Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs: Implications for monitoring and sensor design. Remote Sensing., 4, 271-302; doi:10.3390/rs4010271
Phinn, S.R., C.M. Roelfsema, and P. Mumby (2012) Multi-scale Object Based Image Analysis for Mapping Coral Reef Geomorphic and Ecological Zones. International Journal of Remote Sensing. , 33:12, 3768-3797 doi: 10.1080/01431161.2011.633122
Dekker A.G., S.R. Phinn, Anstee J., Bissett P., Brando V.E., Casey B., Fearns P., Hedley J., Klonowski, W., Lee Z.P., Lynch M., Lyons M., Mobley C. , and Roelfsema C.M. (2011) Intercomparison of shallow water bathymetry, hydro-optics, and benthos mapping techniques in Australian and Caribbean coastal environments.. Limnol. Oceanogr.: Methods 9, 2011, 396–425
Knudby, A., C.M. Roelfsema, M. Lyons, S. Phinn and S. Jupiter (2011), Mapping Fish Community Variables by Integrating Field and Satellite Data, Object-Based Image Analysis and Modeling in a Traditional Fijian Fisheries Management Area Remote Sensing 2011, 3, 460-483; doi:10.3390/rs3030460
Roelfsema, C.M., and S.R. Phinn (2010). Calibration and Validation of Coral Reef Benthic Community Maps: Integration of Field Data with High Spatial Resolution Multi Spectral Satellite Imagery. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, Vol. 4, 043527
Roelfsema C.M., S.R. Phinn, D. Tracey, J. Speirs, M. Hewson and K. Johansen, (2010), A Web Based Toolkit for Using Remote Sensing to Map and Monitor Terrestrial, Marine and Atmospheric Environments.
Phinn, S.R., C.M. Roelfsema, R. Stumpf, T. Lookingbill, (2010) Remote Sensing: The Promise and the Reality. In: Coastal Assessment Handbook, W.C. Dennison, (Ed.), Chapter 15, University of Maryland, USA. 
Roelfsema, C.M., S.R. Phinn, N. Udy and P. Maxwell (2009). An Integrated Field and Remote Sensing Approach for Mapping Seagrass Cover, Moreton Bay, Australia. Journal of Spatial Science. 56, 1 June 2009
Phinn, S.R., C.M. Roelfsema, V.E. Brando, A.G. Dekker and J.M. Anstee (2008). Mapping Seagrass Species, Cover and Biomass in Shallow Waters: An Assessment of Satellite Multi-spectral and Airborne Hyper-Spectral Imaging Systems in Moreton Bay (Australia). Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(8): 3413-3425.
Roelfsema, C.M., S.R. Phinn, W.C. Dennison, A.G. Dekker and V.E. Brando (2006). Monitoring Toxic Cyano-bacteria Lyngbya. majuscula in Moreton Bay, Australia by Integrating Satellite Image Data and Field Mapping’. Harmful Algae, 5(1): 45-56.
Roelfsema, C.M., K.E. Joyce and S.R. Phinn (2006). Evaluation of Benthic Survey Techniques for Validating Remotely Sensed Images of Coral Reefs. In: Proceedings 10th International Coral Reef Symposium, Okinawa, Japan,10-15 July 2004.

Funded Projects

  • CSIRO Coastal Carbon Biogeochemistry Cluster
  • ACEAS Australian seagrass habitats
  • ACEAS Bio-optical data: Best practice and legacy datasets  
  • CSIRO Flagships Collaboration Fund - Integration of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and Remote Satellite Sensing for Automated and Persistent Monitoring – 2012
  • UQ CIEF Seagrass as an ecological indicator: resolving challenges of scale and complexity
  • ARC Treading water in a changing climate: The vulnerability of Australia’s tropical islands to sea level rise.
  • EHMP Mapping Seagrass Moreton Bay 2011
  • NSF Automated Photo Analysis
  • ACEAS Bio-optical data: Best practice and legacy datasets  
  • CSIRO Flagships Collaboration Fund - Integration of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and Remote Satellite Sensing for Automated and Persistent Monitoring – 2012
  • UQ CIEF Seagrass as an ecological indicator: resolving challenges of scale and complexity
  • EHMP Mapping Seagrass Moreton Bay 2011
  • Coral Reef Resource Assessment Roviana Lagoon Solomons
  • WorldBank GEF Coral Reef Targeted Research – Remote Sensing Toolkit
  • Coral Reef Resource Assessment and MPA Planning, Kubulau, and Kadavu Fiji
  • ARC Coral Reefs – Innovative Satellite Image Mapping Techniques
  • WorldBank GEF Coral Reef Targeted Research - Remote Sensing
  • Capacity Building in Benthic Habitat Mapping of Aitutaki Reef, Cook Islands

Teaching Responsibilities

Course Coordinator or lecturer for MARS2014, GEOM3000, GEOM7000, GEOM3001,and GEOM7001. 

Last updated: Aug 11, 2015