December 2011

A warm welcome to the Earth Observation Technology Cluster’s newsletter.


* Announcement: Call for Papers for Special Issue in Remote Sensing
* Knowledge Exchange examples: astronomy & earth observation; and environmental experts & remote sensing specialists.
* RSPSoc 2011 – the Technology Cluster session
* The Technology Cluster: a brief update on the Polar theme
* Review of Landmap – request for support
* Share your news
* Contact us


Announcement: Call for Papers for Special Issue in Remote Sensing

The Cluster is delighted to announce a Call for Papers for Special Issue in Remote Sensing: “Earth Observation Technology Cluster: Innovative Sensor Systems for Advanced Land Surface Studies”.

This Special Issue focuses on innovative technology used in remote sensing of the terrestrial or land surface. The Earth Observation Technology Cluster is an initiative to promote development and communication in this field ( The observation or measurement of some property of the land surface is central to a wide range of scientific investigations conducted in many different disciplines, and in practice there is much consistency in the instruments used for observation and the techniques used to map and model the environmental phenomena of interest. Using remote sensing technology as a unifying theme, this initiative provides an opportunity for presentation of novel developments from, and cross-fertilisation of ideas between, the many and diverse members of the terrestrial remote sensing community.

The scope of the special issue covers the full range of remote sensing operation, from new platform and sensor development, through image retrieval and analysis, to data applications and environmental modelling. Example topics include novel remote sensing platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles; emerging instrumentation such as fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and terrestrial LiDAR; modern image retrieval and storage techniques such as networked data transmission and distributed computing; new image analysis and modelling approaches such as hypertemporal observation; and contemporary and significant application areas such as circumpolar and cryospheric remote sensing. Research papers and innovative review papers are invited on any topic under the broad theme of technological developments in remote sensing of the land surface.

A limited amount of funding may be available. For more information please visit:


Knowledge exchange examples

1. From Astronomy to Earth Observation

Dr Robert Content, Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, University of Durham, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, has used astronomy technology to benefit Earth Observation. In this interesting example of real knowledge exchange, the team recognised that a technique used in astronomy called Integral Field Spectroscopy could be of great use in Earth Observation. The prototype of the Microslice Integral Field Unit has now been built and has now been used to observe vegetation which can be compared to observations with conventional Earth Observation methods.

You can read more here:

2. A unique combination: Environmental Experts and Remote Sensing Specialists
Project URSULA (UAS Remote Sensing for Use in Land Applications) is a 2 year research and development programme which will explore the potential for advanced remote sensing, using small unmanned aircraft, for use in land applications, primarily high input arable farming.
The project and capability has emerged from a unique collaboration between two leading edge SMEs working in complementary areas of technology; Environment Systems, environmental experts in earth observation and geographic intelligence, and Callen-Lenz Associates Ltd, aviation and remote sensing specialists. With agricultural experts also a key part of the team, activities will cover a full spectrum from air system design and operation through to bespoke remote sensing system and data interpretation for agriculture and land-based markets.

Project URSULA officially launched in March 2011 and has just completed its first flying season with spectacular results that have already fed through into plans for year two. Working closely with the CAA the flexibility of the ‘launch anywhere, anytime’ capability has been largely proved as has the combination of the innovative remote sensing platform with novel processing techniques. URSULA promises to be a disruptive technology which will open up new avenues for flexible, cost-effective, high resolution data provision. It is anticipated that this will accelerate the adoption of precision farming principles at a critical time for the industry.

Year two will see further sensor assessment and evolution of the UAS platform which together with advanced data processing will see the development of the first market-focused data products. For further information please contact Mark Jarman.


RSPSoc 2011
University of Bournemouth
September 2011

The Cluster session provoked stimulating debate and you can read Paul Aplin’s talk on Recent Developments with the five themes of the NERC Earth Observation Technology Cluster here:
Niko Galiatsatos summarised achievements to date and future plans in his presentation “NERC Earth Observation Technology Cluster – UAV Theme”:


The Technology Cluster: a brief update on the Polar Theme, led by Allen Pope

A successful Summer School: Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists was held back in July. It was organised by Debbie Clifford, Jen Hall, and Matthias Kunz, in conjunction with the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) and hosted by the NCEO at the Meteorology Department, University of Reading. More than 30 students who are early in their research careers were introduced to a variety of applications and techniques for the use of remotely sensed data in Polar and Cryospheric Science. You can read a summary of the Summer School here:

The participants prepared the following presentations as part of the outreach activities :
• Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists and corresponding Notes for Presenters;
• Remote Sensing in Antartica and Notes for Presenters;
• Changes in the Cryosphere and Notes for Presenters;
• Snow Processes and Notes for Presenters; and
• Glacier Change Detection and Notes for Presenters.

The presentations are designed for undergraduate audiences. You can see links to all of the presentations here:
Some of the research and students in this Circumpolar theme were profiled in RSPSoc’s ‘Sensed’ magazine, and a further article in NERC’s Planet Earth magazine will be published next Spring.
Allen Pope will be presenting a Cluster-related poster at International Polar Year 2012, Montreal, Canada in April 2012.

If you would like more information about this theme please contact Allen Pope.


Review of Landmap – request for support

Landmap is being reviewed over the next couple of months by JISC, their funding body. As part of the review they are asking for use case qualitative information on how Landmap is being used for research and teaching. If you use Landmap services it will be really helpful if you could complete this form and email Gail.Millin-Chalabi this week. Thank you.


Share your news

If you have some Earth Observation news, funding opportunity or technological advance to share with our community, or you wish to publicise your Earth Observation event, please email Alison Marsh.
If you’re interested in collaborating with us please see our ‘Get Involved’ page


Contact us

We welcome your comments, suggestions and feedback. Please do get in touch with us.

Join us on and Facebook!/pages/Earth-Observation-Technology-Cluster/147226935357715?sk=wall.

The project is led by Dr Paul Aplin and managed by Alison Marsh.

The Technology Cluster is focusing on these five key themes:
* Low- Altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Observation is led by Prof. Daniel Donoghue, University of Durham.
* LiDAR:net (Light Detection and Ranging knowledge exchange network) led by Dr. Nicholas Tate, University of Leicester.
* Field-Based Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) Spectroscopy led by Dr. Graham Ferrier, University of Hull.
* Hyper-Temporal Observation led by Dr. Doreen Boyd, University of Nottingham, and Prof. Mark Danson, University of Salford.
* Circumpolar and Cryospheric Earth Observation led by Allen Pope, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge.

The Earth Observation Technology Cluster is based at the School of Geography, Sir Clive Granger Building, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. You can telephone us on 0115 846 8137 and email us using

For more information please see