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Recent ARSF-supported Science: 2010

2010 Normal UK flying

2010 Overseas flying

GB10-06 Richard Harding: The use of hyperspectral remote sensing of 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.

GB10-07 Kate Welham: A multi-sensor approach to analysing archaeological remains

Although aerial survey has long been recognised as a vital tool for archaeological site prospection, relatively little is understood about the physical chemical, biological and environmental factors that affect a feature's visibility in airborne remotely sensed data. This project seeks to build on the work of the doctoral research established at Bournemouth University in 2008, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence's Salisbury Plain Archaeologist, Richard Osgood. The aim of this research is to advance the field of remote sensing for archaeology by systematically developing techniques for processing a range of remote sensing data and combining the results with ground based and subsurface data, thus improving our understanding of the role of remote sensing in determining the nature of archaeological features observed.
The proposed field site will extend a pilot study using archive remotely sensed data already undertaken in the area. The aims of the project are drawn directly from the results of this work. It is hoped that by addressing issues of red-edge spectral sensitivity, optimal lidar resolution and the role of sediment moisture content, our understanding of the conditions affecting the presence of archaeological features in hyperspectral and lidar data will be improved. Iteratively, this will lead to advances in survey techniques and the interpretation of airborne remotely sensed data for the management of landscapes of historic interest.

GB10-08 Simon Price: Anthropogenic landscape evolution and off-shire industrial pollution interactions in the Mersey estuary, NW England

Rapid population growth and industrialisation in NW England has left a legacy of physical and chemical environmental damage on the surface and under the ground. The River Mersey and its estuary was the site of massive industrial growth as water provided a ready resource to support industrial processes and transport raw materials and finished goods. Past and present human (anthropogenic) processes are therefore a major factor influencing environmental change through time in urban areas. Understanding the nature of these changes in time and space will help protect natural resources and minimise pollution.

This project will has two main aims:

  1. To characterise the spatial and temporal physical changes in the urban land surface that have taken place as a result of urbanisation. By integrating this information with 3D geological models of the sub-surface, it will provide a basis for defining urban landscape evolution in one of the UK's major population centres.
  2. The second aim is to characterise the spatial relationship between industrial contamination onshore and its environmental effects in the estuarine environment. The focus of the survey will be on metal contamination related to the development of the petrochemical industries of the River Mersey.

GB10-09 Jim McQuaid: The London In-flow Monitoring Experiment (LIMEx)

Poor air quality, particularly in urban areas, has a demonstrable effect on human health, but the processes responsible for producing the main pollutants, namely particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and heat are not well understood and are poorly predicted. The observations made through LIMEx will be used to inform the UK atmospheric science community as to the background distribution in the south of the UK of 2 of these key pollutants, namely particulate matter and ozone. This will be achieved through a series of vertical profiles from above the boundary layer to very close to the surface (~50 ft) by way of a missed approach into an airfield. Flights will be conducted after the installation of the new ARSF inlet and associated instrumentation. This data will also be incorporated into the long term dataset being generated from the FAAM aircraft. Furthermore the data will also be used in conjuction with the new observation platforms which are to be established as part of the ClearfLo (Clean Air for London) experiment. The ambition of ClearfLo is to provide integrated measurements of the meteorology, composition and particulate loading of London's urban atmosphere. LIMEx will provide knowledge of the composition/distribution of key pollutants upwind of London.

GB10-11 Barbara Brooks: Characterising the spatial and temporal variation in aerosol physical properties

We understand that ARSF plan to upgrade the equipment on the aircraft to include a calibrated sampling inlet and distribution system and a GRIMM particle counter. We propose that this equipment be operated during all ARSF flights to provide a continuing dataset of aerosol physical properties. We wish to be provided with these data for any non-specific project operations and propose to use it to investigate the following research areas:

  1. validate algorithms used in satellite retrieval systems such as MODIS;
  2. to develop a comprehensive data base of aerosol properties over the UK, and elsewhere, to examine their characteristics under a wide range of environmental conditions and localities; and
  3. as a basis for both Undergraduate and Master of Research student research projects.

We propose to produce an annual report if required, providing a general overview ofthe data, plus detailed analysis and investigation of any notable events that occur during the year.
Copies of student projects can also be made available and studies of particular merit / interest will be put forward for publication in appropriate journals.

EU10-01 Natascha Kljun: Improving forest carbon uptake estimates using high-resolution airborne remote sensing data

Flux-tower measurements are increasingly used to quantify the exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O) between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere. Uncertainty in the source area (footprint) of these measurements leads to large errors in the calculation of the CO2 and H2O budgets; at present only 60-80% of the signal measured by flux towers can be accounted for. The objective of this project is to collect detailed information on topography and structure of vegetation surrounding three well-established flux-towers. With this information, a recently developed method will be improved and evaluated for reducing uncertainty in the upscaling of greenhouse gas fluxes to a regional or even global scale. In selecting three long-term flux-tower sites representing typical European forest biomes, a long-standing associated dataset from these community sites becomes available. The unique dataset will combine spaceborne and airborne LiDAR, aerial spectral photography, historic and coincident eddy-covariance measurements from the three flux towers, and ecological data from the tower areas. The research team, consisting of UK, European and Canadian scientists, includes experts in LiDAR and digital spectral photography data processing, footprint modelling, flux-tower analyses and upscaling procedures.

EU10-02 Tavi Murray: Investigating the effects of ice-sheet-ocean interactions on glacier-front dynamics in south-east Greenland

The Greenland Ice Sheet's contribution to sea-level rise has more than doubled in the last decade. This increase resulted primarily from the acceleration, thinning and marginal retreat of major outlet glaciers, mainly in the southeast (SE) and north-west, during the early 2000s. Recent research suggests that these changes, which have profound implications for global sea level, ocean circulation and regional climate, are probably driven by ocean temperature changes delivered to the glacier fronts through the fjord systems. However, the fjord processes that regulate ocean water delivery to the glacier calving front, and the role of the mélange of sea ice and calved ice that covers the fjord surface close to that front (sikkusak) are largely unknown. We hold a NERC Small Grant (NE/G10366/1) to target changes in north Greenland. This proposal targets the critical SE region and will help constrain fjord conditions and geometric and velocity changes close to key glaciers' calving fronts.
Project objectives are to:

  1. Characterise and measure changes in the sikkusak in response to glacier flow, calving events and tides;
  2. Calibrate and validate high-resolution spaceborne thermal imagery; and
  3. Extend our time series of elevation and speed records at key sites in SE Greenland.

EU10-03 Andrew Tyler: Algorithm validation of algal and cyanobacterial blooms in lake ecosystems for the remote sensing of lake waters at global scales.

Mass phytoplankton populations are a serious concern for the ecological status and socioeconomic value of water resources and there is a clear need to develop methods to gather timely and reliable data on water quality at regional-to-global scales to support wider research and monitoring. In this context, remote sensing technologies offer a solution. However, the optical properties of inland and coastal waters are strongly influenced by the non-linear contributions of other in-water constituents and by bottom reflectance. Consequently, simple empirical algorithms often lack the necessary robustness for global scale remote sensing. However, recent research suggests the use of more powerful analytically based inversion algorithms may offer a way forward in this respect. Lake Balaton would provide an ideal arena for testing these emerging algorithms as the optical properties of this lake are known to be complex. We plan to develop and test inversion algorithms for the retrieval of in-water constituents and for mapping bloom-forming cyanobacteria using in-situ radiometric, airborne AISA Eagle and MERIS satellite data. These datasets will be acquired concomitantly and will be used to assess the sensitivity of algorithms to other optically-active in-water constituents, bottom reflectance and the influence of atmospheric and adjacency effects. They will also provide the opportunity to test the new GRIMM aerosol size spectrometer to be installed on the Dornier for atmospheric correction purposes.

EM10-02 Graham Ferrier: Advancing understanding of volcanic processes and hazards using an integrated Earth Observation approach

The island of Milos, Greece, exhibits, at many centres, a diverse range of volcano-tectonic processes:

  1. it has explosively erupted, over the last 3 Ma, an extensive range of volcanic rocks in a variety of submarine and subaerial volcanic environments;
  2. it has high and low enthalpy geothermal energy resources, which are potentially suitable for electricity generation and water desalinitation; and
  3. the volcanic rocks have undergone extensive interaction with geothermal and magmatic fluids resulting in a signifcant number of fossilized hydrothermal systems that are important for economic resources of metals and industrial minerals.

In this project we propose to carry out an integrated field-based spectral reflectance and emissivity study to acquire a comprehensive set of ground spectral measurements representative of the range of volcanic rocks and geothermal and hydrothermal mineralisation present on Milos. A range of ground-, airborne- and satellite-based remote sensing datasets with complimentary spatial and spectral wavelengths (including thermal) and resolutions of the study site has already been acquired. These datasets when combined with the proposed ARSF hyperspectral and LiDAR data acquisitions will provide a unique opportunity to resolve the complex volcanic, geothermal, hydrothermal and tectonic processes occurring at a volcano in an extensional backarc tectonic setting.

EM10-03 Barry Parsons: LiDAR measurements of active faults in Western Turkey

The magnitude of an earthquake depends on the geometry of the fault on which it occurs, lengths of fault segments being determined by offsets and sharp changes in orientation. The locations of many faults are imperfectly known, often being obscured by vegetation and urban development. Accurate high-resolution topographic measurements from lidar may be used to filter out vegetation or buildings, revealing the surface morphology. We propose to use the ARSF lidar to obtain topography of the ground surface around two faults in western Turkey on which large earthquakes have occurred in the past, with the following objectives:

  1. To determine the geometry of the faults, both of which have unusual characteristics, and hence inform new investigations of past, imperfectly-understood earthquakes on them. Knowledge of the geometry of the southern strand of the North Anatolian fault will be used to aid interpretation of the northern strand that lies offshore of Istanbul.
  2. To identify locations on the faults suitable for field studies of geomorphology and palŠo-seismology, from which estimates of slip rates and strain accumulation on the faults may be made.
  3. To provide new constraints on the seismic hazard and risk to the populated areas surrounding the faults.

EM10-04 Graham Ferrier: Mapping massive sulphide deposits in the Troodos Massif, Cyprus.

The island of Cyprus hosts one of the best preserved ophiolite sequences of the world: the Troodos massif. Lithologically the complex comprises a mantle series of ultramafic rocks overlain by intrusive and extrusive volcanic sequences composed of basalts, gabbros and (plagio)granites. Massive sulphide deposits, occur at the contact between the lower and upper pillow lava series. This contact is difficult to map in the field. In this project we wish to explore the possibility of using advanced image processing techniques to discriminate the main lithological units to guide in mineral prospecting. A detailed field-spectral stratigraphic study forms the basis for the selection of potential spectral end-members characterizing the hyperspectral and Lidar image used. We will be fine tuning and further developing a set of object based image processing techniques that combine spatial and spectral information in hyperspectral data with terrain data from Lidar data sets to characterize lithologic boundaries and stratigraphic contacts. The mapping results will be compared with known geologic maps to quantify the usefulness of geologic remote sensing products for mineral potential mapping. Our work aims to demonstrate how remote sensing can be used for mineral exploration at a reconnaissance stage in ultramafic terrains.

EM10-05 Dickson Cunningham: Investigation of the lithological and structural architecture of the northern Troodos Mts, Cyprus using novel mapping techniques incorporating LiDAR and hyperspectral data.

The proposed research builds on an established project in the Leicester LiDAR Research Unit (LLRU) investigating the lithological and structural architecture of the northern Troodos Mts, Cyprus, utilising a semi-automated mapping technique involving lithology-specific morphometric parameters derived from high-resolution LiDAR data. In this application, we propose a combined LiDAR and hyperspectral survey in an adjacent area to further refine our mapping methodology and address additional scientific questions about the emplacement history of the Troodos ophiolitic rocks, its internal structure and its potential mineral deposits.

Previous results have indicated that the fusion of airborne LiDAR and spectral data is synergetic in that rock types can be discriminated and classified by their morphometric and/or spectral characteristics depending on terrain attributes, vegetative cover and anthropogenic modification of the landscape. Maps that we have generated to date and have field verified are significantly more detailed and accurate than existing geological maps. The proposed research in this application will allow us to further refine our techniques and apply them to the stratigraphically deeper levels of the Troodos ophiolite. Our results will have widespread application to geological mapping in all terrain types and will provide potential benefits to the wider resource exploration and tectonic research communities.

EM10-06 Ken McCafferey: Airborne LiDAR mapping of uplift marine terraces, Gulf of Corinth, Greece.

Earthquakes cluster in time, confounding our attempts to predict the timing and location of imminent large-magnitude earthquakes. The aim is acquire, process and use Airborne Lidar data to make high resolution (1m) maps of palaeo-shorelines from glacioeustatic sea-level highstands at 76 to 780 ka from the Gulf of Corinth, Greece. These new data will enable us to improve understanding processes that produce spatial and temporal variations in deformation rates and hence earthquake recurrence intervals on active faults. Ultimately, we will test the hypothesis that clustering is caused by elastic interaction between faults via stress transfer with cluster intensity and duration varying as a function of fault geometry.

EM10-07 Franscesco Vuolo: Exploring potential of hyperspectral remotes sensing data in vegetation monitoring for future satellite missions (such as PRISMA)

With the launch of a new generation of hyperspectral environmental earth observation satellites (such as PRISMA and EnMAP), it will be possible to acquire remotely sensed data with higher spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions than currently available. Such capabilities will facilitate both research activities and operational applications. Within this context, this proposal will contribute to:

  1. Develop and validate hyperspectral retrieval algorithms for LAI and Chlorophyll estimation in preparation for launch of hyperspectral missions such as PRISMA
  2. Test and validate remote sensing techniques for quantifying water exchanges in the main tree crop species of the Mediterranean environment
  3. Exchange of knowledge between European research institutions having expertises in mutual field of interest

Experimental campaigns will be carried out in two Sicilian areas having special interest for tree crop agriculture: orange orchards in the Catania plain and vineyards and olive trees in the south-western part of Sicily. The results of this study will allow to define:

  1. A portfolio of products for vegetation monitoring in the context of carbon cycle monitoring based on future hyperspectral satellite data;
  2. Suitable techniques for the rational management of water resources in tree crops under water scarcity conditions.

EM10-08 David Pyle: Deformation and degassing at active volcanoes in the Aegean: Nisyros and Santorini, Greece

We propose to use the special deployment opportunity to Greece to analyse recent deformation and degassing at two active Aegean volcanoes, Nisyros and Santorini.

High resolution lidar and digital photography will be used to map young and active fractures and faults at both centres. By combining airborne remote sensing data with high spatial resolution field measurements of soil gas CO2 flux, and analysis of satellite imagery (radar interferometry; InSAR), we shall quantify rates of recent deformation and degassing fluxes at each volcano. These data will substantially improve our understanding of the behaviour of dangerous volcanoes during non-eruptive periods. At Nisyros volcano, we propose to collect hyperspectral data to map vegetation stress and hydrothermal alteration zones associated with active craters, fumaroles and fractures; and to test whether strong point sources of CO2 emission can be detected directly from hyperspectral data.

These new data will allow us to understand the magmatic and hydrothermal processes leading to decade-scale changes in gas flux and deformation at two dangerous but quiescent volcanoes. This work will have a direct impact on volcanic hazard assessment in Greece, and elsewhere.