Amazon 2016:Remote Sensing, News

Remote sensing: Edinburgh to the Amazon and back again

Things that starts simple sometimes mature into things of complexity and elegance. This time the simple idea started with Tom’s (Meagher, St Andrews) passion for remote sensing (seeing the planet from the sky) and its transformative potential to change our understanding of the land-use and especially studies of the planets fauna and flora. The UK have amazing leaders in the development and development of deployment of both satellite and land based earth observation systems, with the STFC hosting the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory – SPACE who have been responsible for designing and development of many of the academic payloads that now orbit the globe. So remote sensing seemed an ideal subject for a workshop organised through the STFC/NERC Futures network for which Tom and I are PI/CoI. Tom identified some amazing UK scientists from drone experts, Justine Moat (Kew Gardens), to cube-sat impresario Andy Vic (STFC, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh) – for full workshop participants you will need to wait for the workshop paper!!

So all easy of far, this is where things get complicated ……. as readers of my blog know I am involved in a Newton Funded project looking at pre-Columbian ecosystems in the Amazon (see TPInetwork). In the autumn last year (2015) Tom and I helped put together a grant to study various anthropogenic Biomes in South America to extend this work including Botany and remote sensing (other CoIs include Logan (Kistler, Warwick), Eimear (Nic Lughadha, Kew) and Eduardo Neves (Sao Paulo, Brazil)). These discussions reveal a spectrum of direct applications for remote sensing with a primed ‘user community’ – from monitoring clearing of the rainforest, to botanical exploration of the Amazonian flora and characterisation of ground surface topology to identify and identify new archaeological sites a new spectrum of remote sensing devices have transformative potential. So we decided to organise two workshops – one in UK including technologist, engineers and applications experts then one in Brazil (Porto Velho) where we would bring together the user community who may exploit the new developments.

As a consequence, I would be running a workshop in Edinburgh Friday and Saturday (18/19th Feb). Then getting on a plane to Brazil on the Saturday (20th) and after traveling all Sunday 21nd I would visit collaborators in Belem on Monday (22rd) before running a complementary Amazonian focused workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday (23/24th), kicking off our third field campaign on 25th before travelling back to Cardiff on the 26/27th .

The next few entries are a catalogue the ups and downs of this hectic of weeks.