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Peatlands Demo – 2019 Climate Talent Competition

Atmosphere, Land  |  13 October, 2020  |  Reading time: 3 minutes

Summary

The successful S4C Climate Talent Competition 2019 has resulted in a UK based demonstrator project to provide insight into the recovery of Peatland areas.

Thriving peatlands are a net carbon sink, while those which are degraded are a carbon source. The ability to monitor continuously, from space, interventions designed to improve the state of peatlands is therefore directly relevant to our ability to respond to a changing climate.  Professor Fred Worrall, of the University of Durham was selected to pitch his idea at the 2019 competition semi finals at the UK Space Conference.  Fred’s winning pitch slides are available here: UK Space Conference 2019 – Fred Worrall presentation slides (pdf).   These set out his ideas for harnessing EO data for the monitoring of peatlands and restoration actions to reduce emissions from them.  After winning the competition, Fred worked with an assembled team of Space4Climate group members to turn his ideas into reality by creating a demonstrator.

Phase 1 of this demonstrator project is built on DataCube facilities developed at Assimila UK, to provide land surface temperature, vegetation indices and surface reflectance information at 1 km resolution, to the UK community in a timely and accessible format. Planned extension work will be in collaboration with industry and third sector partners, notably the National Trust, to provide training and commercial applications for the platform.

The project has been designed with flexibility in mind -now built, redeployment to other variables, or locations (for e.g. urban heat discomfort indices) could be achieved with relative ease. The project is available from Assimila, please contact Claire Macintosh at S4C for more information.

Application

The project allows insight anywhere in the UK on land surface variables. The initial application is to monitor peatland recovery in the North Yorn Moors. Time series analysis for a specific location or locations allows direct monitoring of land surface recovery, and area comparison at time points of interest provides maps of vegetation indices and surface temperature.

Planned extension work will be in collaboration with industry and third sector partners, notably the National Trust, to provide training and commercial applications for the platform.

UK expertise

Assimila UK have built on existing Data Cube capabilities to provide a flexible platform with scientific and commercial applications. Prof. Fred Worrall at Durham university is the science lead, providing insight and expertise in Peatland quality.

Team Insight

The demonstrator can be used for insight alongside traditional in situ measurements, but allows scientists the ability to go beyond point measurements, to fully capture the entire extent of the peatland area.

This Phase 1 application showcases a single use case for a demonstrator built with flexibility in mind. There is planned extension work on Peatlands with commercial partners. However, the demonstrator can in principle be used to monitor temperature and vegetation changes over any area of interest in the UK, including for monitoring of greenbelt land, urban spread, urban heat maps and many other applications.

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