Nov 032011
 

The blog content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence.

IGIBS source code, i.e. the WMS Factory tool and the Mapping Application, is released under the modified BSD license. The full licence text will be included in any released source bundle.

The data licence(s) chosen depend on the original input data used. The WMS Factory tool will generate data (maps and tabular data) based on user-uploaded data which belong to their respective owners.

 Posted by at 15:20 Project Management, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on Licensing for blog content, source code and data
Jul 262011
 

Just a brief update on the progress of the project here at Aberystwyth.  We now have Lucile Lemaire visiting from France with her experience in vegetation surveying and she is hard at work recording data from randomly selected areas of the Dyfi Biosphere. This is time consuming work and made especially difficult as she is using public transport, bicycle and foot to access the survey areas.  These areas are often a long way from the nearest path and could involve long walks over very rough and or wet boggy ground.

There will be some 6 weeks of this survey work to be done and it will result in some very detailed information about the range of habitat types found in the Dyfi area. Crucially it will also allow Prof Richard Lucas to test the validity of his methodology for classifying habitat types with Remote Sensing techniques.  Briefly put; if Lucile’s vegetation descriptions match up with Richard’s predicted ones then he has shown the value of his system to classify habitats from data gathed by satellites or aerial surveys.

I have been developing a Data Management Plan for the IGIBS data over the past couple of days and witnessing the work that has gone into creating some of these data at first hand  highlights the importance of securing the integrety and access to data that is expensive in time and effort to collect.  There have been around two hundred datasets identifyied for the Dyfi Bioshere, so far, so just multiplying the 6 weeks Lucile will spend collecting data from a few hundred 10×10 m squre plots by 200 gives a very rough estimation of the work that these data represents.

The benefit of data managennt planning and the associated metadata creation and logging will mean that these data, possibly representing about 24 years of work, will be more discoverable,  more widley used and more cerafully preserved. If just one researcher discovers data that they no longer need to collect a second time then the work involved will have been time well spent. The Digital Curation Centers’s online tool for creating data managment plans can be found here

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:13 phd Tagged with: , ,  Comments Off on Recent developments
Jul 202011
 

Alisdair is a PhD case study for the IGIBS project. He is 8 months into a PhD that is developing a tool to interpret almost ant kind of imagery into part of a time line for mapping habitat change.  You can view his university profile here.  He says that the key descriptors for this work are  “universal” and “precise”. So he is aiming create a tool that can be applied to images from Landsat , IRS  and SPOT for example and from these data  he is trying to draw out both changes in extent of habitats since 1975 and in timings of changes within a season. So he might be able to look at loss of semi-natural woodland through felling  and to identify changes in the timings of tree bud burst that might relate to climate change. 

In order to make  data created at different times precisely comparable he needs to perform some complex processing of imagery and to  filter out variable factors that distort the images, such as atmospheric quality.  This means that his data requirements for the PhD are very wide ranging and have covered satellite and aerial data from the past 35 years detailing ground cover, atmospheric quality  and many things in between. 

There are also issues around the accessibility of data that will be worth exploring for the IGIBS project as some of his source data is commercially protected but much of his output and analysis might be  more freely available. So some data will only be  for University use while other parts of his work will be more accessible.  

While the ultimate aim is to provide change maps for the whole of Wales, the pilot study is covering Borth Bog (Cors Fochno in Welsh) in the Dyfi Biosphere and so will provide a suitable case study for IGIBS. 

In particular this case study will highlight some major areas of the IGIBS project.

  1. His need for such a wide range of geospatial data  from differing  sources could  feed into recommendations for metadata and data discovery aspects as well as security issues and intellectual property rights.
  2. He will be producing maps of habitat change that could be useful to landscape researchers, WAG agencies, and many other categories of data users and so he is attempting to   establish a link with the National Library of Wales so that his research can establish a  resource for future use.
 Posted by at 11:59 phd, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Alisdair Cunningham – IGES PhD student
Jul 182011
 

Today we  had a Meeting with Mike Bailey, the Countryside Council For Wales (CCW) manager of the 2,300 Hectare Dyfi National Nature Reserve (NNR) that sits in the Western end of the Dyfi catchment. This NNR has areas of raised bog, sand dune and estuary within its boarders. Of particular interest for many of the projects at IGES is the raised bog area of the reserve which represents the largest area of such habitat in Wales.

Mike is helping out with several IGES projects ongoing on the raised bog. This is a valuable and fascinating habitat consisting of an area of raised peat sitting some three or four meters above the surrounding landscape. This removes much of the influence of underlying geology and watertable and leads to the development of unique and fragile habitats that have been much reduced in area and quality across Western Europe through peat digging in the past and present.

CCW is putting considerable time and money into the area with land purchase and habitat management aimed at restoring the fringes of the raised bog that have been degraded in the past by conversion to agricultural land and by peat cutting for fuel and horticultural use.

Mike is a case study for the project and is a provider of data that will be accessed by many users at IGES. He may also be able to benefit from students (postgraduates and undergraduates) adding value to some of his data with their own analysis.

The National Nature Reserve is surveyed and monitored in a variety of ways both for CCW and for postgraduate research. This has lead to the formation of a hotspot of data within the Dyfi catchment. Mike’s visit is particularly inspiring in the way he can help to visualise the geospatial data that we have collected . Understanding how records of species at particular x and y coordinates actually translate into understanding the health and nature of a very valuable and visually dramatic landscape really helps to bring this project alive.

The long term needs of ecological habitat management also emphasise the importance of long term data conservation. With some ecological management only showing its results over many years, the ability to safely conserve data and then to be able to rediscover it possibly a generation later will be a tough test for the best practice models for spatial data use and management this project aims to create.

 Posted by at 16:23 msc, phd, undergraduate, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Visit from Mike Bailey; Countryside Council for Wales
Jul 132011
 

A quick hello from your newest member (Steve Walsh) I now have my feet under the desk at Aberystwyth and look forward to working with you all. I will try and keep up regular blogs on developments….

I had a meeting with Jonathan Brownett yesterday and got some very useful insights into the use of spatial data from the coal face …….Below is a brief summary of Jonathan’s section of the project’s case study.

Jonathan Brownett – IGES MSc student 

Project 

 Jonathan is looking at land cover change in the Dyfi Catchment over an 8 year period using a mixture of data from LANDSAT 7 and field parcel data (LPIS) from the Welsh Government. He has also made use of the Digimap service to access OS MasterMap data and elevation and shape file data accessed from within from IGES. 

Jonathan is then relating this data to the relatively new Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) which uses pre defined classifiers that can be applied to a level of detail suitable for a particular project. With this method he should be able to track changes in 20 or so categories of vegetation, bare land and water covered areas. 

Combined with some confirmation of actual ground cover species Jonathan should then be able to describe some of the major land cover changes  that have happened in the Dyfi catchment (very similar in extent to the Dyfi Biosphere area). 

He is well underway with his work and should have his data analysed buy the end of July and should receive some expert help in using LCCS from Lucile who will be visiting the Department from France and will be bringing her expertise in carrying out LCCS ground survey to the Dyfi Biosphere area. 

Relevant experience for the IGIBS case study 

In several ways Jonathan is a very useful case study as he has recently come from a Conservation BSc and has experienced GIS and Remote Sensing courses and the functioning of an SDI in two academic departments. With his MSc thesis he is now   discovering the intricacies of accessing data from external agencies and discovering the wealth of data held by individual researchers with their own approaches to metadata creation. He is also being forward thinking and has suggested that some of his data might be suitable to use for undergraduate teaching so suggested that he will discuss the best way to make available the research data he has generated with his supervisors.

Jul 072011
 

Within IGES, key people representing users (undergraduates, postgraduates, research staff and academics, external users) have been identified as ‘case studies’ to support the IGIBS and demonstrate the beneifts for teaching and research.

Within IGEs, undergraduate students have access to a wide range of modules.    This project will focus on the Dissertation module and also the third year modules “Geographical Information Systems” and “Earth Observation from Aircraft and Satellite”.   New material is being developed revolving around these latter two modules which will also utilise web-based mapping and the datasets made available for the Dyfi Biosphere.  The opportunities for undertaking dissertation work within the catchment will also be promoted to students as suprisingly (and for the first time in many years) none from IGES focus on the Dyfi.   However, we are talking to dissertation students in other Departments to seek their involvement.

Aberystwyth University has recently launched a suite of five new Masters Courses focusing on remote sensing and GIS, Geography, Planetary Exploration, the Living Environment and Computer Science.  The material collated for the Dyfi catchment will be playing a key role in these courses, with the content of modules also conveying techniques developed in IGIBS.   As a case study, Jonathan Brownnet (a current student on the Masters course Remote Sensing and GIS) is investigating the use of multi-temporal remote sensing data for quantifying forest change in the Dyfi catchment and its likely impact on hydrological dynamics.   His work is being followed as part of IGIBS. 

At the Ph.D. level, Alisdair Cunningham is working also on methods of change detection from remote sensing data and he will be providing datasets for the project which will be made available to students and staff within IGES.  Becky Charnock is also commencing a Ph.D. in September on examining whether changes observed from remote sensing can be related to losses or gains of floral and faunal diversity.   Becky previously worked on IGIBS and will continue to contribute.

Our Map Librarian staff, Antony Smith and Ian Gulley, are also helping to make the IGIBS a success.  In February, IGES launched its new digital map library which is providing students with opportunities to explore geographical datasets delivered over the web and to input their own.   A key component is to utilise the Map Library facilities such that the datasets acquired for the Dyfi are full available to the range of users.

We are also linking with external research organisations including Forest Research (Dr. Hugh Evans), the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), EcologyMatters and the Welsh Government and helping to support a wide range of initiatives.   The project is also linking with the NERC Virtual Observatory project being undertaken at Aberystwyth University that also focuses on the Dyfi Biosphere.   There are also strong connections with the BIOSOS project through myself.   This project is focusing on using remote sensing data to characterise and monitor Natura 2000 sites, of which Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) is one.   A component of the project is to collect new datasets over the summer period which will be fed into IGIBS.

Steve Walsh is working to ensure the success of the project over the next four months and will be putting up blogs on a near daily basis so stay tuned for updates.

 Posted by at 10:34 Project Management, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Users of IGIBS: An update
Jun 062011
 

During the Dyfi Biosphere Research Forum, Alma Blonda from Bari Italy and Richard Lucas IGES gave a joint presentation on the BIO-SOS project, which focuses on developing satellite and airborne-based techniques for monitoring Cors Fochno, the only NATURA 2000 site within the Dyfi Biosphere.  Details of the mapping and monitoring methodologies were explained and the benefits of the project were also outlined.   By presenting at this meeting, scientists involved in the Dyfi Biosphere were able to be collectively informed of both the BIO-SOS and the JISC IGIBS projects.

 Posted by at 13:35 User Reqs Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on Presentation at the Dyfi Biosphere Research Forum
May 232011
 

Last Wednesday (18th May) I attended a meeting of the Dyfi Biosphere Research Forum at Aberystwyth University.  Chaired by Mike Woods of the Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences, the meeting showcased a selection of the wide range of different research activities that have taken place (or are underway) in the Dyfi Biosphere area.

  • Chris Lea (Welsh Assembly Government) gave the keynote stressing WAGs support for R&D in the area, particularly as it relates to the work of the Sustainability and Environmental Evidence Division
  • Palma Blonda (CNR, Italy) and Richard Lucas (Aberystwyth University) gave an overview of the EU funded BIOdiversity multi-source monitoring system: from Space TO Species (BIO-SOS) project
  • Mike Bailey (CCW): dipped into what is obviously a deep mine of personal knowledge of the area and presented on recent research in the core conservation zone of the Dyfi Biosphere
  • Mike Hambrey (Aberystwyth University): gave a fascinating presentation on the last glaciation in Wales with a focus on the Dyfi catchment
  • Paul Brewer (Aberystwyth University) outlined some surprising results in a presentation entitled “Altered morphodynamics in the tidally-influenced lower Dyfi: re-thinking catchment management, flood risk & material fluxes”
  • Yours truly (Chris Higgins) presented on IGIBS (IGIBS_BDB_Research_Forum_May11) emphaising that the project needs input, eg, via the questionairre from this group if it is to benefit Dyfi related R&D and bring further resources into the area
  • Mike Christie (Aberystwyth University) gave a very erudite presentation on a hot subject that I think we will be hearing a lot more about: Valuing ecosystem services
  • Ambra Burls (Independent researcher) and her guest Zena Willmot from Coed Lleol talked about very pertinent related work – Environment and health
  • Man (apologies, didnt catch the name and not on the programme) from Centre for Alternative Technology talked about the groundbreaking work CAT is doing in relation to “Building adaptation for climate change”
  • Finally, Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University) spoke on “The Dyfi biosphere in context: research from the Wales Rural Observatory.”  Again, very apposite, some very surprising insights and all the more interesting as coming at the question of Biosphere related research from a different angle

We had 20-30 minute at the end for a brief plenary discussion.  Lots of good ideas here but no time to go into any of them in any real depth. At the risk of pre-empting the minutes, IMHO, a couple of themes started to emerge:

  • Need to broaden the scope of the Research Forum to include greater representation from the social sciences
  • Must bear in mind the need to engage with the wider community
  • Terms of reference need nailed down
  • Lack of resourcing a problem

Of course, the IGIBS project has some resources (at least up until November 2011) and, as project manager, I volunteered that the project team would do what we can to help as long as it aligns with the project objectives.

The one thing we can help with is laying firm foundations for getting the most out of online Geographic Information and managing Dyfi Biosphere research related data.  Our hope is that the work we do in this short project helps you and others like you inititiate and execute future projects in the area.  To lay this foundation well, we need input from stakeholders in the Dyfi Biosphere and from the research forum in particular.  Please fill in the questionnaire, even if its only a partial response.

 Posted by at 20:13 Project Management, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere Research Forum meeting
May 162011
 

An important part of the data collation for this project is to make sure we know what level of access is allocated to the data. For example some data sets will have sensitive data which would not be for general viewing whilst others will be available to most and students will be able to use it for their research.

We have recently received data set lists from Paul Brewer at IGES and Colin Chapman at WAG. Paul Brewer has given us a list of hydrology data sets as well as LiDAR data and aerial photography for the Dyfi catchment that would be available for all students and academics to access. Some of these data sets have been noted by Jonathan Brownett, MSc student who would like these to help with his thesis research. We have also acquired a list of data that WAG may be able provide. These may contain sensitive data and will have user restrictions. Both Paul Brewer and Colin Chapman should have other data lists available to us at a later date.

 Posted by at 12:14 msc, phd, undergraduate, User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Access to data.