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UK National Earth Observation Conference 2018
-7 September 2018
University of

Technical Sessions

Atmospheric Gases

Trace Gases in the Troposphere and Stratosphere from Satellite. Chair: Jeremy Harrison

  • There are a wealth of satellite datasets now available for trace gases in the troposphere and stratosphere, from short-lived species such as carbon monoxide, associated, for example, with biomass burning and vehicle emissions, to greenhouse gases such as methane and the long-lived dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12), an ozone-depleting substance banned by the Montreal Protocol but which is still present in the atmosphere. As our ability to measure trace gases from orbit improves, so does our ability to interpret these observations in part thanks to atmospheric models. This session will focus on scientific studies using satellite datasets of trace gases and/or atmospheric models in applications such as tropospheric/stratospheric chemistry, air quality, and the atmospheric transport of pollution.


Carbon, Forest and Fires

Earth Observation to Constrain the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle. Chair: Jeff Exbrayat

  • Terrestrial ecosystems have offset 25–30% anthropogenic emissions of CO2 but the spatial distribution of this sink remains highly uncertain. It raises concern on our ability to project the resilience of the global land carbon sink to land use change and a future climate with more extremes. Because ecosystem carbon fluxes cannot be remotely measured, they have to be estimated through empirical or process-based modelling. However, the increasing amount of continuous Earth Observation (EO) of the biosphere now offers unprecedented opportunities to constrain our understanding of the modern terrestrial carbon cycle and help improve the robustness of future projections. Therefore, this session calls for oral and poster contributions presenting new approaches to constrain machine-learning and process-based retrievals of the terrestrial carbon cycle with EO. Papers focusing on using multiple EO constraints to reconcile estimates of carbon fluxes and stocks are particularly welcome.

Forest Carbon & Forest Change. Chair: Shaun Quegan

  • This session will describe recent developments in learning about forest carbon, how forest carbon stocks are changing due to deforestation and degradation, and the implications for forest in the carbon cycle. New forest observing systems will also be considered.

Observations and Impacts of Fire in the Earth System. Chair: Martin Wooster

  • Landscape fire is the greatest terrestrial disturbance agent on Earth, being an agent of landcover change, a cause of air pollution, but also an inherent part of many ecosystem cycles and the carbon cycle overall.  Understanding the extent, magnitude and spatio-temporal variability of landscape fire is important if we are to properly attribute causation to many of the changes and variations we see in the Earth system, and a wide range of Earth observation methods are deployed to aid this process, focused both on the land surface itself and the atmosphere. We invite talks related to any aspect of remote sensing that is focused on the study of landscape fire and its terrestrial or atmospheric impact, both from ground, aircraft and satellite-based platforms.


Climate Observations

Calibration and Validation of EO Data and Products. Chair: Paul Green

  • The calibration and validation of EO data and products session will invite presentations across all spectral domains used for active or passive EO remote sensing, from the UV-VIS-NIR, infrared, microwave & SAR, applied to atmospheric, land, vegetation, ocean & cryosphere ECVs. Submissions can include current activities applied to existing satellite sensors, applications to historical data/data series or planned activities for funded future missions, through the comparison of EO data and products to ground-based, airborne or in-orbit reference sensors or networks. Submissions that emphasis the underlying calibration & validation methods and how these ensure the confidence in the EO data/product quality and their applicability to user community needs are encouraged.

Satellite ECV Data Sets and Climate Services. Chair: Briony Turner & Geoff Busswell

  • The Paris Agreement highlights the importance of good emissions monitoring and has established a global goal for climate change adaptation for the protection of people, livelihoods and ecosystems. The Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should be based on, and guided by, the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge and local knowledge systems. Satellites and space applications are already integral to accurate and long-term climate change monitoring, providing information on land surface, ocean and atmosphere, and key processes that link these components. Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) were developed by the World Meteorological Organisation to provide an empirical basis for understanding past, current, and possible future climate variability and change. This session will outline how earth observation missions and data can already, and has the potential to, further inform and provide a basis for climate services; the transformation of climate-related data, together with other relevant information, into customised, value-added products, such as projections, forecasts, analyses and decision support tools to support adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk management. 


Data Assimilation

Data Assimilation: From Theory to Applications. Chair: Amos Lawless & Peter Jan van Leeuwen

  • This session will highlight the link between advances in data assimilation (DA) theory and the applications of DA throughout NCEO, including for Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP). Abstracts will be sought on (i) DA in different application areas (e.g. land surface DA, chemical species DA, NWP), where new approaches to the DA problem are being developed; (ii) new developments in DA theory that could be beneficial to the application areas; and (iii) recent developments in model and observation error covariance estimation and their influence in data assimilation and retrievals, including errors in the model equations and representation errors. The aim is to give an overview of the broad range of DA work being carried out in NCEO and to demonstrate how theoretical advances in DA are being used to enhance the exploitation of Earth Observation data for different applications.


Earth System Model Evaluation

Earth Observation for Earth System Model Evaluation. Chair: Robert Parker

  • Earth System modelling contributes to our understanding of the Earth System, in particular to simulations of future climate through programmes such as the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) which feed directly into the IPCC assessment. The UK Earth System Model (UKESM) will form the UK contribution to CMIP6 and comprises of the physical climate model and the Earth System component models that describe the terrestrial carbon cycle and vegetation, ocean biogeochemistry, continental ice sheets, and atmospheric chemistry and aerosols. Earth Observation data is now at a level of maturity where we can assess and evaluate many components of Earth System models both individually and as part of the coupled system. We invite submissions that make use of Earth Observation data to analyse, assess or evaluate Earth System model simulations.



Earth Observation Science for Education and Engagement Chair: Catherine Fitzsimons

  • This session will highlight examples of projects which use Earth Observation Science and Remote Sensing for education or engagement purposes. Abstracts are sought for projects which use EO or remote sensing, and education or engagement activities using principles that could be applied to EO or remote sensing topics. The session will aim to show best practice from current and historic projects, and highlight the benefits of using EO and remote sensing to engage the public with science or as an educational tool.



Earth Observation for Mapping and Monitoring Landslides. Chair: Zhenhong Li, David Milledge & Allessandro Novellino

  • Landslides cause enormous human and economic losses and disruption, worldwide. Accurate knowledge of the timing, location and size of landslides is required for mitigation and hazard and risk management, but such information is difficult, time-consuming and costly to collect, often involving labour intensive terrestrial observations or manual mapping. Earth Observations (EO) from space or aircraft, have the potential to supplement and complement terrestrial observations enabling the collection of wider, denser and more timely landslide data. This profusion of EO data, easily accessibility and quick availability provides the geoscience community with enormous opportunities in studying and monitoring mass movements processes for the first time but also significant technical and logistical challenges. This session invites presentations on innovative EO methods and applications on mapping, monitoring and modelling landslides. Submissions are encouraged to cover a broad range of topics, which may include, but are not limited to, the following activities: * EO algorithm development, automation, implementation, and validation * EO and landslide early warning systems * EO and landslide hazard mapping * EO and landslide emergency mapping


International (ODA, CEOS, Sustainable Development)

EO Applications as Part of Official Development Assistance. Chair: TBC

  • UK Earth Observation sector’s research and innovation strengths are contributing to the delivery of sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies. This session will present developments within programmes such as the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Programme, NEWTON, NERC ODA programme and activities funded directly by DfID. The projects span a whole range of themes; including agriculture, improving air quality, reducing deforestation, disaster response, land-use monitoring, reducing maritime problems and deploying renewable energy.

GEO and CEOS. Chair: Heiko Balzter & Chris McQuire

  • NCEO hosts the UK Joint GEO/CEOS Office, coordinating and disseminating information to the UK EO community and working with the international initiatives GEO and CEOS. This session provides a unique opportunity for the UK EO community to be updated on the GEO and CEOS developments, and the activities UK representatives attending CEOS and GEO Working Groups are contributing. It will also enable attendees to engage on key areas of UK strategic interest (data infrastructures, high resolution EO data, climate/carbon, disasters): to discuss synergies.


Land Cover

Earth Observation Data and Analysis for Rural Environment. Chair: Sanjay Rana

  • In recent years, various topics such as flooding, water quality, animal movements, quality of biodiversity habitats, and sustainability of farming land have brought an intense focus on the state of rural environment. Remote Sensing and Earth observation datasets have played a key role in mapping and monitoring of the state of rural environment. New challenges and opportunities have also arisen following indications of a shift in focus in government’s agricultural subsidy policy and the advent of technologies such as free optical/radar images with short revisit cycles, microsatellites, and cloud-hosted based geocomputing platforms. The session will be open to researchers and technical experts from academics, industry, and public sectors practitioners. It will seek presentations on new techniques for automated classification of crops and biodiversity habitats, new EO sensors and platforms for mapping land and farm animals, crowd sourcing of information on rural environments, and novel EO data/analysis policy proposals.

Modern Land Cover Analysis. Chair: Geoff Smith & Alastair Graham

  • With the success of programmes such as Copernicus and Landsat and the proliferation of commercial satellite systems, now is the time to understand how the data explosion arising from this is impacting on our ability to monitor the land surface. Landscape process and function can now be assessed more easily from space than ever before. This RSPSoc Land Cover Land Use SIG session will address the issues around managing these data, processing multi-temporal datasets and generating intermediate products.

Quantifying Environmental Change using Hyperspatial Remote Sensing. Chair: Amy Woodget, Fleur Visser & Stephen Dugdale

  • The quantification of environmental change is critical to a range of applications within science and management, and thus of interest to a broad range of researchers and practitioners, especially those focussed on the impacts of changing climate. Whilst aerial and satellite remote sensing have long provided the opportunity for detecting change, monitoring at hyperspatial resolutions (i.e. <0.1m) has typically been reliant on subjective classifications or traditional in situ surveys at set points or along transects. However, such surveys do not provide spatially continuous data and thus may overlook important spatio-temporal dynamics and processes. This session will provide a forum to explore and discuss hyperspatial resolution remote sensing approaches for spatially continuous quantification of environmental change. We encourage contributions from a range of environmental settings, including but not limited to rivers, coasts, landslides, glaciers, peatlands, forestry and mountainous terrain, which discuss the quantification of change at hyperspatial resolutions using remote sensing. We are particularly interested in approaches using UAVs, laser scanning and/or novel sensors which offer new insights into environmental dynamics and processes


New Developments and New Space

Low Cost EO through NewSpace, Constellations and Exotic Missions. Chair: Andrew Paliwoda & Owen Hawkins

  • This session will explore some of the new mission concepts possible using low cost satellite formats such as SmallSats, CubeSats and PocketQubes. These new satellite formats are allowing the cost of missions to come down substantially, where a satellite can be launched for as little as 25K Euro; this allows new datasets which were once considered economically unviable to be routinely collected and exploited. Constellations are where the real power of these low-cost satellite platforms is unleashed, providing novel data types at high temporal and spatial resolution, and provoking a reassessment of the applicability of EO to societal, commercial, environmental and other challenges, especially when combined with complementary methodologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. This session welcomes papers on new low-cost satellite mission and constellation concepts and on the potential applications and algorithms, prototype or operational, that incorporate these new data feeds.


Ocean Biogeochemistry

Ensemble Modelling for Ocean Biogeochemisty and Carbon. Chair: Shovonlal Roy

  • Marine biogeochemical (BGC) models have come a long way to incorporate the complexity of the lower-trophic interactions and represent multiple functional types of phytoplankton and zooplankton. However, the outputs of various BGC models still differ from each other, particularly at local scales, making the choice of a BGC model difficult for the user. This proposed session looks for contributions (talks and posters), broadly related to ensembles of marine biogeochemical models towards better quantification of biogeochemical states and biological carbon stocks in the ocean, locally and globally. The contributions may cover one or more of the following aspects: Applications of Earth Observation data for BGC model ensemble; EO data assimilation and BGC model ensemble; Parametric sensitivity and BGC model ensemble; Structural sensitivity and BGC model ensemble; Multi-model BGC ensemble



Photogrammetry and Image Processing for the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Chair: Rene Wackrow



Pipeline and Downstream EO

ESA Business Applications - Enabling Commercial Services with Earth Observation. Chair: Ian Downey

  • This session presents example EO-related activity and opportunities from ESA’s Business Applications funding. The vision for ESA Business Applications is to help improve people’s lives by enabling and supporting businesses to commercialise and apply space data and technology for everyday services. It focuses on the development and pilot operations of new and innovative service solutions that make use of at least one space technology or space-enabled capability including Earth Observation. Space-based systems and services already play an important role in many commercial sectors, but there is still significant potential for developing viable, commercially sustainable operational services (possibly involving new EO capabilities) that benefit society. ESA Business Applications aims to attract existing space companies, new entrants and non-space sector players to propose new commercially promising space-based applications or services either via direct negotiation (co-funded) or competitive opportunities. NOTE: THIS SESSION WILL NOT BE OPEN FOR ABSTRACT SUBMISSION


Surface Temperature

Integrated Earth Surface Tempertaure. Chair: Claire Bulgin

  • There is a recognised scientific need to integrate Earth surface temperature measurements across different domains (land, sea, ice, lakes). Integrating satellite data both across surface domains, and from different instruments in geostationary and polar orbit, provides a unique opportunity to understand changes in global surface temperature. Integrated datasets can provide more detailed information on surface temperature transitions in marginal zones (between individual surface domains), e.g. coastal regions and along the sea-ice edge. There are a wide-range of benefits in using all-surface temperature datasets, from studying both local changes e.g. land-lake temperature feedbacks, and longer-term trends in surface temperature related to climate. In this session we invite presentations on the theme of integrating and exploiting surface temperature observations across different Earth surface domains. There are many potential applications of these data, such as (but not limited to) understanding geophysical processes in marginal zones, global heat and energy transfer, surface-atmosphere interactions.



Imaging Technology for New Space Applications. Chair: Paul Jerram

  • The capability of Earth Observation platforms for new space applications is intimately linked to the development of new imaging technologies that are enabling the use of instruments with reduced size, weight, power consumption and cost. This session will cover the imaging technologies that are being developed for new space applications, both constellations and HAPS, and what new capabilities those technologies allow. Talks could include topics such as: New visible imager sensor technology; Infrared imaging sensor technology (both cooled and uncooled); Detector and focal plan concepts for optimisation of super resolution operation; Telescopes; Highly integrated electronics; Compact and low mass focal planes; On-board image processing

Technology for Earth Observation. Chair: Chris Brownsword & Alessandro Battaglia

  • This session will present some of the innovative new technologies for EO under development, e.g. by teams funded through the Centre for EO Instrumentation. It will include instruments for the next generation of science and operational (Copernicus and meteorology) missions, as well as technologies for ‘NewSpace’ commercial missions, constellations and HAPS. Papers on novel imaging technologies and the new capabilities that those technologies allow are particularly encouraged.


Urban and Cities

EO Applications to City Sustainability. Chair: Eloise Marais, Mike Barnsley, Phil Wilkes & Briony Turner

  • Over half of the world's population live in cities and this is expected to rise to 65% by 2050. This presents tremendous challenges in planning, building, maintaining, and monitoring city sustainability, particularly in developing countries. Use of EO data from satellites, to sensor networks, to UAVs and fusion with ground-based measurements and models offer unique opportunities to monitor and assess impacts of rapid development, urban renewal, and ambitious development projects on the city environment. We welcome contributions from academics, industry, and government on a diversity of topics: Air quality monitoring; Constraining pollution sources; Urban footprints and sustainable growth; Traffic/transport management and planning; Disaster management; Climate resilience; Natural capital and green infrastructure; Meteorology, heat islands and microclimates; New observing EO techniques/instrumentation; Internet of Things; EO validation in cities


Water and Cryosphere

Coupled Energy, Water and Carbon Cycles from EO Products. Chair: Keith Haines

  • Better constraining the coupling of the energy, water and carbon cycles using observational data sets would provide a valuable tool for climate and earth system model evaluation. For example, current climate models show a wide range of behaviour in their meridional and land-sea heat and water transports. This session aims to explore the extent to which water, energy and carbon fluxes, and their coupling, are currently well captured by EO or other observation-based datasets. Contributions could explore how these fluxes are connected across a range of scales, from local, through regional to global budgets, and at the process level, in both observations and models.

Observing Water from Space. Chair: Chris Kidd & Alessandro Battaglia

  • The proposed session will highlight and explore the various aspects of observing water from space, including clouds and precipitation, surface water, oceans and the cryosphere. Such observations are critical for, for example, natural hazard monitoring (drought and floods) and assessing water security. Potential contributions could include new observing systems and technology, calibration and validation of EO data and products, monitoring natural hazards and disasters, cloud radiative effects and climate change. Therefore overviews of current Earth observations of water in all phases would be encouraged, while exploring the synergies between these different topics.

Remote Sensing of the Polar Regions. Chair: TBC



Plenary Sessions

The Future of Downstream EO. Chair: Terri Freemantle (Satellite Applications Catapult)

The Earth Observation industry is advancing at a rapid rate. Technological advancement in recent years have seen an explosion in the use of EO through the development of downstream applications – largely due the democratisation of EO data through open access that was previously unprecedented – resulting in the commercialisation of EO based services.

This influx of data has a led to mass innovation in the industry, opening doors to EO data for exploitation by non-expert users. This big data movement has resulted in the requirement to find faster, cost-effective ways to analyse EO imagery at scale – the data is acquired faster than we can process it, leading to the rise of innovative techniques such as machine learning, provision of analysis-ready data (ARD) and the adoption of cloud-based technologies capable of handling the enormous amounts of data currently being generated. Critically, it has been widely recognised that insights gathered using geospatial data are fundamental to delivering the Sustainable Development Agenda, putting EO technology in the spotlight like never before.

What does the future hold for the downstream application of Earth Observation? This session will bring together innovation leaders from all areas of the EO community who are tackling this issue first hand.


EO Applications for Government. Chair: Emily Gravestock (UKSA) & Farhana Amin (Defra)

Through programmes such as Copernicus, UK Space Agency's Space for Smarter Government Programme and the Defra EO Centre of Excellence, UK government departments, agencies and the devolved administrations are becoming increasing developers and users of EO products and services. This session will provide an update on important UK initiatives and will be a showcase for recent examples of practical applications in the public sector. 

2011. Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society
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