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Recent ARSF-supported Science: 2008

2008 Normal UK flying

GB08/01 Nigel Langford: Development and Field-trials of a Multi-species Quantum Cascade Laser Spectrometer.

To test a compact multi-species, multi-laser, mid-Infrared quantum cascade (QC) laser spectrometer which we are developing for aircraft operation, In particular for the NERC research aircraft.. This instrument is based both on the spectrometer flown successfully in October 2006, and on the Cascade Technologies instrument developed for analysing stack gas emissions from ships. In our three flights in 2006 we found evidence for rapid variations in the methane concentration in localised regions of the flight paths. We wish to repeat these flight paths with the new instrument to investigate whether any corresponding fluctuations and the other detected molecules occur. By Identifying the species whose signatures are co-located we wish to show that the instrument may aid the source apportionment of common atmospheric pollutants. In our analysis of the 2006 flights we have correlated the concentrations with their location using the airborne GPS receiver. This Is similar to our previous use in 2005 of the A1MMS probe recently fitted to the Do228 aircraft. Following an analysis of the performance of the instrument, both In the aircraft, and for ground based measurements of trace gas fluctuations, we intend to incorporate the information gained from the flights into the final spectrometer design.

GB08/02 Mark Danson: Integrating Airborne Lidar and Terrestrial Laser Scanning to characterise phenological changes in forest vegetation (Resubmission).

Changes in regional climate affect vegetation phenology causing spatial and temporal variations in the timing of greening, the length of the growing season and vegetation productivity. Optical remotely sensed data have been used to provide two-dimensional information on vegetation composition by mapping vegetation biomass or productivity to identify phenological change patterns. However, lidar data can additionally provide accurate three-dimensional information on vegetation characteristics including canopy cover, leaf area index, vertical distribution of foliage, and structural characteristics like vegetation height. Data from both airborne and terrestrial laser scanners provide the opportunity to measure detailed vegetation canopy characteristics which may be used to validate phenological change maps whilst adding new information on three-dimensional changes. A better understanding of the interaction of lasers with vegetation canopies is required to fully exploit the information derived from airborne laser scanners. The proposed project will integrate airborne and terrestrial laser scanner data to investigate these interactions in order to estimate seasonal variations in vegetation characteristics at a forest test site in northern England

GB08/03 Richard Armitage: Spatial and temporal changes in fuel moisture content (FMC) in upland vegetation: A case study in the Peak District.

Fuel moisture content (FMC) is a key variable in fire risk modelling because it is related to the probability of ignition, and to the rate of spread of a fire (Flannigan et al., 2000). FMC is controlled by the interaction of plant physiology and soil moisture conditions, and is spatially and temporally highly variable (Chuvieco et al., 2002). Remote sensing has been used for mapping the spatial and temporal dynamics of vegetation FMC, but virtually all of this work has focused on Mediterranean ecosystems. In England and Wales fire risk is assessed using the Meteorological Office Fire Severity Index which uses meteorological data to determine fuel moisture and soil water balance and map fire risk in 10x10km cells on a daily basis. The model is used to plan countryside access restrictions during period of high fire risk, but it does not currently account for spatial variations in fuel type and has to be tuned locally to account for variations in vegetation cover. This proposal for the acquisition of ARSF data aims to test whether the relationships between reflectance and FMC, determined in previous studies, can be used to improve fire severity risk assessment for fire-prone upland vegetation in northern England.

GB08/04 Michael Davies: Airborne remote sensing for "The Development of a Local Urban Climate Model and its Application to the Intelligent Development of Cities" (LUCID).

EPSRC have awarded substantial funding (EP/E016375/1, EP/E016448/1 and P/E016308/1) to support the three-year project 'The Development of a Local Urban Climate Model and its Application to the Intelligent Development of Cities' (LUCID). University College London (UCL) are the Lead Research Organisation for this multidisciplinary project involving the University of Reading, Brunel University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The data provided via the use of the ARSF will be used to support this project which will develop, test and apply state-of-the-art methods for calculating local temperature and air quality in the urban environment. Airborne remote sensing data from the ATM Deadalus sensor is required to make night-time land surface temperature measurements of the urban fabric. These will be employed to assess the utility of high resolution remote sensing through the contemporaneous inter-comparison with FLIR camera images/measurements of building roofs and through in situ thermocouple measurements. These data will be used to aid in the testing of the LUCID model but will also be of great utility to compare LST derived from airborne underflights of thermal instruments onboard the NASA Terra or Aqua MODIS instruments and/or the ESA-ENVISAT AATSR instrument.

GB08/05 Alejandro Souza: Sediment processes in the Dee Estuary (This project is part of Oceans 2025 WP 3.3 And 3.4) and also NERC Funded project FORMOST.

The Project is part of Oceans 2025 and aims to observe sediment transport dynamics within the Dee Estuary. As part of the POL Coastal Observatory an X-Band radar has been deployed at Hilbre Island to monitor bathymetric changes at the mouth of the Dee Estuary. The study will also make a set of marine in-situ observations which are focused on studying the small scale processes, turbulence and SPM resuspension. Understanding these processes in important to try to predict the large scale variability. Three-dimensional numerical modelling will be used to help interpret the dynamics within the Estuary. The use of the NERC Aircraft will be of great advantage providing us with high-resolution bathymetry of the intertidal area of the Dee Estuary. The Main objective of the project is to monitor and predict the athymetric changes in the Dee Estuary over different time scales. The use of at least two LIDAR flights at two year intervals in combination with previous collected data will allow us to follow the changes in the Dee and to calibrate and validate our numerical models.

GB08/06 Julia McMorrow: Landscape-scale restoration of peatland: evaluating the contribution of hyperspectral remote sensing, Peak District National Park

Upland peatlands provide vital ecosystem services, but large areas are degraded due to historic and current atmospheric pollution, inappropriate land management, wildfires and visitor pressure. Peatland restoration is a major tool to address government PSA targets for biodiversity, soil and water protection in the uplands. Restoration is of crucial importance to protect UK soil carbon stores, as more than 50% of UK soil carbon is stored in peat and is rapidly lost when peat is exposed. The Moors for the Future Partnership (MFF) is revegetating 5km2 of bare peat in the Peak District. Monitoring is of pivotal importance to judge the success of this restoration, but traditional field-based permanent plots surveys are time-consuming and costly. High spatial remote sensing is an alternative, but to what extent can it provide information on habitat condition (% cover, species composition) for reseeded peat soils whose spectra resemble those of live plants? The project addresses the key problem of upscaling from permanent plot to landscape. It evaluates the ability of SPECIM images to distinguish between moorland restoration treatments and provide new knowledge on thresholds for estimating habitat condition for sparse vegetation growth on carbon-rich soils, building on work on hyperspectral remote sensing of bare peat. Natural England and MFF's involvement will enable results to feed directly into operational management of the carbon budget and biodiversity of peatlands, including planned work on vulnerable organic upland soils in Scotland.

GB08/07 Alejandro Souza: Coastal Flooding by Extreme Events (CoFEE)

Over the next 100 years sea level will rise and there may be more severe storms. This will increase the coastal flooding risk to property, businesses, industry, roads and rail networks at great cost to us all. We must now face the consequences of climate change and either invest in sustainable defences or develop new ways to live with more flooding. The first option will cost a great deal of money and the second option may mean we need to change radically the way we currently occupy and use the coastal environment. The Coastal Flooding by Extreme Events (CoFEE) project will use our present knowledge of the eastern Irish Sea coastline in computer models to investigate the speed and extent of coastal flooding during storms and to determine how sensitive our coasts are to extreme events. CoFEE will look at different natural coastlines that include, estuaries, beaches and sand dunes and coastlines that are defended by a range of man-made structures. The results will be applicable to coastal areas elsewhere in Britain and more widely. By bringing together scientists, engineers and the people who plan flood defences, CoFEE will provide the basis for predicting the threat of coastal floods in a changing climate so that resources can be better targeted to deliver more effective, better informed and sustainable strategies for managing the flood risk to our coastlines in the future.

GB08/08 Richard Harding: Opportunistic flights at Wytham Woods to study carbon and water fluxes in a fragmented woodland

Woodlands support a high biodiversity, sequester C and provide renewable sources of materials and energy. Their planting is widely advocated for climate change mitigation and adaptation, but it is important that they are resilient to likely increases in frequency of summer drought. Climate change and fragmentation interact to modify forest water use. We will investigate the consequences for C sequestration and biodiversity and potential interactions with nitrogen deposition. A successful NERC CEH Environmental Change Integrated Fund Proposal "Fragmented woodlands in a changing climate: carbon, water and biodiversity" will study the effects of woodland edges on carbon and water fluxes over a three-year period. High temporal frequency opportunistic flights of Wytham Wood will provide remotely sensed measures of leaf water content and primary productivity to validate ground-based studies of carbon and water fluxes.

GB08/09 Malcolm Lillie: Hydrology, heritage management and sustainability in lowland river systems : managing future climate change

Recent research at the Department of Geography, University of Hull has demonstrated that recent water abstraction policy has had a profoundly detrimental effect on the alluvial sequences in lowland British rivers. The environmental consequences of this deterioration were starkly demonstrated by the flooding events that occurred in the summer of 2007. This research has identified the key parameters influencing hydrological responses in floodplain sequences and the critical effect that the degraded floodplain sediments have on surface hydrology. The aim of this project is to follow up the results of this recent research by undertaking an integrated study extending over the floodplain of a lowland river in the UK, that has been shown to be severely compromised. By examining an entire floodplain system the interaction between the different components e.g. soils and hydrology, the relative contribution/importance of different aspects of the system, and the overall scale of the problem affecting the Idle River can be studied. Once a system scale appreciation of the processes affecting the river valley has been resolved the potential effects of additional water abstraction, aggregate extraction, landuse change and climate change on hydrology can be investigated and areas with the highest potential for archaeological preservation identified.

GB08/10 Ross Hill: Developing remotely sensed indicators of habitat condition and conservation status for a forested Natura 2000 site

Standardized ecological monitoring of biodiversity has become legally binding under the European Habitats Directive. Forests represent a significant proportion of Europe's biological diversity, covering 47% of the total land surface and over half of the 18,000 Natura 2000 sites. Conservation objectives thus need to be integrated into forest management to ensure that favourable conservation status of forested sites is maintained following Natura 2000 establishment. Biodiversity monitoring and conservation status assessment at the level of Forest Management Units is required, but there is currently no consensus regarding which indicators to use. Current approaches show a number of limitations with respect to forested Natura 2000 sites. Further indicator development is therefore needed to ensure that monitoring methods provide consistent conservation status assessments across sites and over time, using the most cost-effective approaches, to ensure the effective implementation of policies aimed at conservation of forest biodiversity in Europe. The integration of field survey and remotely sensed data to assess forest habitat status is at a relatively early stage, but holds enormous potential. This project aims to develop and assess a suite of remotely sensed indicators of woodland condition and habitat status, which link to measures of biodiversity value, and are objective and repeatable

GB08/11 Doreen Boyd: Validation Consolidation of the Envisat MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index (MTCI)

Satellite remote sensing provides the opportunity to measure and monitor key photosynthetic pigments such as chlorophyll content of vegetation canopies, which are a key and dynamic component of global ecosystems. The widely accepted red-edge algorithm, used to estimate chlorophyll content from remotely sensed data, is not suitable for use with satellite imagery. To overcome this problem, the new Envisat MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll index (MCTI) has been developed. It is the only satellite chlorophyll index available for use and is available to users as a Level 2 product from the European Space Agency. However, there is a need to validate the MCTI. In 2006 the NERC ARSF supported a validation campaign over croplands and woodlands in southern England and further support has been received from the NERC FSF and the ESA. All these studies represent a significant step to the full validation of the Envisat MTCI, however, further effort is required, with particular issues in focus. Data provided as part of this NERC ARSF campaign which will take place in East Anglia in collaboration with Rothamsted Research Station, Broom's Barn, will be a keypart of the on-going validation programme. Consolidated validation results will be useful to the producers (ESA) and users of the MCTI products.

GB08/12 Angela Harris Determining peatland physiological function: Linking biophysical variables with remotely sensed data across geographic space and spatial scale.

Remote sensing has the potential to increase the accuracy of ecosystem process models by deriving input parameters based on fundamental biophysical properties directly linked to physiological function. Several semi-empirical regression models have been developed to estimate biophysical properties of peatland vegetation using remotely sensed data. Although many of these models have been demonstrated to have acceptable accuracy at the scale at which they were developed, all have scaledependent limitations and their usefulness for estimating key process variables across entire peatland complexes is questionable. This research aims to test for and explore spatial variation in the relationships between biophysical properties and spectral reflectance, and assess whether (and how) these relationships are affected bv changes in spatial resolution. Such findings will provide greater understanding of the potential of remote sensing for synoptic monitoring of peatland ecosystem functions. Multi-scale airborne imagery and in situ data obtained from a raised bog in west Wales will be used to explore the ability of global (ordinary least squares (OLS)) and local geographically weighted regression (GWR)) regression models to accurately characterise relations and predict vegetation biophysical properties across entire peatland landscapes. Furthermore, airborne data acquired at multiple spatial resolutions will be used to assess the discriminatory ability of these methods at a range of scales. Such information places the study into the wider context, providing valuable information regarding the applicability of these methods to broader-scale monitoring of global peatland resources.

GB08/13 Mathias Disney: Monitoring and modelling vegetation response under catchment-scale treatment regimes using Earth Observation (EO) data

ARSF data are requested in support a NERC-funded PhD studentship which aims to: establish a baseline map of vegetation type and amount covering five catchment sites within the Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Reserve, a part of the Berwyn and Migneint Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Wales; ii) relate existing vegetation type and past dynamics to past landscape management and land-use activities; iii) to use Earth Observation (EO) data to monitor changes in vegetation amount and dynamics under newly-instigated management regimes (blocking of drainage channels and application of nitrate fertiliser over whole catchments) designed to repair degradation of the landscape which has occurred through a combination over-grazing, burning and drainage; iv) to relate changes in ecosystem state, particularly fluxes of carbon and water, to changes in the EO signal; and v) to develop EO-based monitoring methods which will allow the impact of management activity to be assessed quantitatively over wider areas. ARSF data will provide accurate height information (LiDAR) for generation of DEMs of the catchments, as well as hypersepctral reflectance to allow determination of vegetation spatial and spectral extent and dynamics.

GB08/14 Mike Smith Identification and terrain analysis of peat mass movements

Peatlands are globally important environments because of their contributions to biodiversity and their roles as long-term stores of global carbon. However, some peatlands are susceptible to instability and failure, particularly in the British Isles, and thus the landslide hazard may be changing as a consequence of climate change. Typically these failures occur on remote uplands where access for field investigation is difficult or impossible, so information needed to assess the future risk and potential impacts from peat landslides is often not available. This application seeks to obtain high resolution LiDAR data covering a small part of the North Pennines where a cluster of peat landslides has developed. The reason for seeking LiDAR imagery is that the landslides typically show much topographic detail but with a very limited vertical range. Other forms of remotely sensed data cannot satisfy the necessary level of mapping detail that is achievable in the field. The proposed research will establish whether quantitative morphological characterisation of peat landslides can be achieved sufficiently accurately using LiDAR data, by comparing with existing field mapping. The utility of the LiDAR data for monitoring post-failure changes and for identifying previously unrecorded failure sites will also be quantitatively evaluated.

GB08/15 Alan Blackburn: Modelling gap microclimates in broadleaved deciduous forests using remotely sensed data.

When treefalls occur or tree crowns are damaged due to windthrow, tree death, disease or anthropogenic disturbance, the gaps that are created in the forest canopy initiate dramatic changes in abiotic conditions, particularly microclimate. It is generally acknowledged that the magnitude of the changes in microclimate is related to the size, shape and 3-D geometry of the gap and characteristics of the remaining surrounding canopy. However, there is currently a paucity of models that are able to describe these relationships, particularly in temperate forests. Furthermore, we currently have very limited ability to characterise the consequences of the variations in the spatial distribution of gaps on the microclimatic conditions across entire forest stands. The proposed project aims to address these issues by using a unique combination of field observations, numerical modelling and remote sensing techniques. In situ observations at the field site are helping to provide the empirical evidence with which to construct a dynamic spatio-temporal model of gap microclimates, while experiments over the next growing season will develop robust and extendible remote sensing techniques for characterising relevant gap and canopy properties. This study will only be possible because of the unique operational and sensing capabilities of the NERC ARSF, combined with comprehensive validations based on an extensive ground campaign coinciding with the overflights.

GB08/16 James Brasington: Multi-Scale Morphological Characterization in Braided Rivers

This application seeks support from the ARSF to acquire airborne lidar, panchromatic photography and multi-spectral imagery to support and extend a research programme which aims to develop novel methods to monitor and model the morphodynamics of braided gravel-bed rivers. These data will augment a globally unique river characterization study on the UKs only extensively braided river, the River Feshie, which has been influential in the development of new methodologies for sediment budgeting and reduced complexity modelling of river morphodynamics. Data from the ARSF will be used extend this research to focus on developing the first truly multi-scale characterization of braided river morphologies, which stretches from the fundamental building blocks, the individual grains, through to bar- and reach-scale patterns of organization. this is made possible for the first time by combining state-of-the art terrestrial laser scanning with airborne lidar and image analysis. These data will be used to explore scaling relationships in river morphologies in order to: a) better quantify morphological sediment budgets and patterns of channel change; b) retrieve physically-based flow resistance data fundamental for robust hydraulic and sedimentological modelling; and c) offer system-scale data to parameterize and test reduced complexity models of fluvial landscape evolution.

GB08/17 Ross Hill: Assessing the invasive potential of Rhododendron ponticum in western Britain

Rhododendron ponticum (L) is an invasive non-native shrub species that has invaded a range of natural habitats since its introduction into Britain around 240 years ago. Once it invades an area it shades out indigenous vegetation, reduces the habitat's biodiversity value and eventually dominates the habitat. Where this occurs in woodlands the process of natural regeneration is prevented and the woodland habitat is then under threat of irreparable deterioration. Dense rhododendron occupation in woodland is particularly difficult to map, as the area cannot be physically accessed and traditional methods of mapping cannot penetrate the woodland canopy. New techniques are therefore required to identify the location and extent of current invasions. This project aims to use airborne remotely-sensed data to map existing rhododendron sites and predict future rhododendron expansion over time periods of 20 and 50 years resulting from the combination of vegetative layering and seed dispersal. This information can then be used as a tool by managers to produce strategic management plans to eradicate rhododendron in areas with an established population, and protect potential sites suitable for invasion.

GB08/18 Richard Stillman: Assessing the distribution and abundance of a keystone riparian macrophyte: impacts of swan grazing and consequences for Salmonid conservation

Submerged macrophytes often have a pivotal role in the functioning of freshwater ecosystems, but can prove difficult to monitor using digital imaging. Water Crowfoot Ranunculus pseudofluitans is a keystone macrophyte in chalk streams, forming a fundamental structural component, supporting high invertebrate densities, thereby enhancing productivity to the benefit of fish populations. R. pseudofluitans grows in relatively shallow, clear water, with most biomass on or near the water surface, increasing the chances of detection using remote sensing. Several abiotic and biotic factors (e.g. shading by bankside vegetation and grazing by mute swans Cygnus olor) control R. pseudofluitans distribution. Understanding the importance of R. pseudofluitans as a major factor influencing aquatic biodiversity and as preferred habitat for fish has been pivotal in the conservation of salmonids (trout Salmo trutta, Atlantic salmon Salmo salar). This project will use remote sensing, existing long term datasets and new field work to map the distribution and abundance of R. pseudofluitans in a chalk stream, assess the impact of swan grazing and predict the distribution of R. pseudofluitans as salmonid habitat in order to advise river management. This is the first attempt to use remote sensing in modelling key river habitat for aquatic biodiversity of lowland rivers.

GB08/19 Wooster, Martin: Investigating the Urban Energy Balance of London

Urbanization alters the urban energy balance (UEB), urban heat island (UHI), growth of the boundary layer, and other biophysical processes. Generally in situ (tower-based) measures urban energy exchanges are spatially limited relative to the heterogeneity in the urban matrix. ARSF remote sensing (RS) capability should allow parameters of urban land cover class vegetation, soil, concrete etc), surface topography (building presence, height) and surface temperature to be determined remotely, which when combined with local meteorological data can be used to model the UEB, for example the Local-Scale Urban Meteorological Parameterization Scheme. We will explore the use of ARSF-RS data to provide inputs to LUMPS and to provide spatially explicit data on the UEB, and related variables (e.g. UHI intensity) that have direct impact on human comfort and health. If applicable to London, such models will provide understanding of the urban environment and, potentially, aid in planning new developments. Ultimately such models would be run without frequent airborne overflight data since the high resolution land cover classification (from the airborne imagery) will not change significantly over short periods of time, and allowing use of the temporal data of relatively high spatial resolution thermally-equipped satellite-based sensors (e.g. ASTER).

NL08/01 Hugh Coe: EUCAARI-Cloud Radiation Interaction Study (EU-CRIS)

Clouds are highly reflective and scatter incoming solar radiation to space, thereby increasing the planetary reflectance, or albedo. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (2007) has identified the perturbation of aerosol and cloud by man's activities as the most uncertain part of man's contribution to changes in the Earth's radiation balance. EUCAARI is an EU 6th Framework Integrated Programme on Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interactions. A major activity in EUCAARI is a multi-aircraft experiment to investigate aerosol properties and processes across Europe and to study the interaction between aerosols and clouds. This latter activity will be conducted by the French SAFIRE ATR-42 aircraft, which will fly in the region of Cabauw, Netherlands, a major ground station equipped with radiometers and lidar. The current activities are focussed on aerosol-cloud interactions making use of in-situ measurements but including a cloud RADAR and an aerosol lidar. This proposal seeks to extend the measurement capability by making a suite of remote radiometric measurements of the short wave and near infra-red reflected radiation from above the cloud. These measurements will be both compared with in situ measurements and also, where possible, with satellite information.