Earth Observation and Geospatial Technologies Research Group
The Earth Observation and Geospatial Technologies group exploit the latest generation of satellite, airborne and in-situ sensor and software technologies and, where necessary, develop novel technologies and approaches to deliver new understandings of the Earth system and its responses to environmental stressors.
We host the community database for lake Bio-Optical Measurements and Matchup Data for Remote Sensing (LIMNADES).
We collaborate with ecologists, statisticians and social scientists within SMEs and research institutions to model, predict and manage ecosystem change, and deliver data-driven solutions for pressing societal and global challenges including the Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. SDG 6) and links between the environment and human health. We employ a range of remote sensing technologies from polarimetric and inferometric synthetic aperture radar (SAR), through light detection and ranging (LiDAR), to optical and gamma-ray spectrometry.
Development of global observatories from space
We conduct world-leading research on bio-geo-optics, radiative transfer and remote sensing in optically complex inland, transitional and coastal marine waters to deliver reliable solutions that enable the accurate retrieval of water quality information. Operationalising these algorithms with our partners is enabling us to understand the differential sensitivity of lakes to environmental change drivers (http://www.globolakes.ac.uk) and develop early warning for harmful algal bloom (HABs) detection. The capacity is contributing to the Observation Node of the pan-European Research Infrastructure DANUBIUS-RI ESFRI – The international centre for advance studies on river-sea systems.
Our work on SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) includes the design of methodologies exploiting polarimetry or interferometry to monitor targets at sea that have interest for environmental protection and hazard mitigation. For instance, we have designed detectors identifying plastic pollutants, icebergs, sea ice, small vessels and aquaculture structures.
Integration of Earth observation within regulatory frameworks and industrial practice
We deliver scientific solutions for mainstreaming satellite monitoring capabilities into UK and Ireland water quality monitoring and management. Through a NERC KE fellowship we are working closely with the UK and Irish regulators and the UK water industry to exploit EO capability:
- as direct input into the Water Framework Directive (WFD) classification tool
- to identify regions of potential risk to water quality status
- to aid the selection of targeted sampling to optimise the representativeness of ground based measurements and facilitate effective water management
- to optimise reservoir management for efficient water treatment and early detection of quality issues
We are working on an IPP UKSA project aimed at providing remote sensing operational solutions for food security in South America. This project involves a large amount of end users from small farmers to vegetable exporter.
Developing and deploying in-situ sensor systems
We routinely deploy high-end bio-optical instruments to validate and optimise existing sensors across a range of platforms (citizen science, in-situ, airborne and satellite) and help to develop technologies at a range of technology readiness levels (http://monocle-h2020.eu/).
We develop in-situ, mobile (hand held and car-borne) gamma ray spectrometry systems to map radioactivity in the environment. We develop novel algorithms to map the spatial and vertical distribution of radioactive contamination in the environment. We deploy in-situ and mobile systems for dose assessments across a range of environments, including those characterised by extreme radioactive contamination. Working closely with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) we have also developed hand held systems for the detection hot particles (caesium-137 and radium-226) in the environment. We operate an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory for environmental radioactivity.