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
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.
May 132011

Today I met with Jonathan Brownett an MSc student studying at IGES who is hoping to complete a thesis which will investigate land cover change over the Dyfi catchment area using remote sensing. He will use this method to determine the effects of land cover change on the hydrology of the area.

He would find this project very useful in compiling his thesis and already from the list we have compiled he has highlighted a number of data sets that he would like to have access to, to help him complete his thesis. So far there are at least 10 data sets that we have collated that will be useful to him.

After this I made a trip to Ynyslas where the Dyfi Reserve Manager Mike Bailey from CCW was able to locate a number of useful vegetation data sets initially taken from quadrats within the Cors Fochno bog area of the Dyfi Biosphere. This data will be of use to Professor Richard Lucas, academic from IGES and Alisdair Cuningham, PhD student who will be able to use this data for the BIOSOS project which they are working on.

I also received a list of IGES undergraduate proposed thesis titles and so far none of these are focusing on the Dyfi Biosphere. The Dyfi Biosphere is an area which could prove to be a huge resource to such students in terms of research already carried out in this area and the boundless possibilities it poses for more research. The proposed tool/mapping application could be used as a valuable tool for educating these students allowing them to discover the resources it holds.

May 092011

In the last couple of days I have met with a number of people who have previously or are currently working on projects within the Dyfi Biosphere. I have asked what data sets they have available and what their requirements of this tool would be.

I have met with Anthony Smith, the map curator in IGES. He agrees that the IGIBS data and tool would be very useful for both students and staff. The data acquired would also add to and help to update the map library. It also seems that many data sets relating to maps within the library are actually held among various researchers within the department. This currently makes it difficult for anyone to locate data sets relating to catalogued maps. The use of Geodoc for metadata recording and management might improve this situation but ultimately the Dyfi Biosphere and IGIBS mapping application would make all the information available in one site.

Alisdair Cunningham is a PhD student and is studying and developing methods for detecting habitat and land-use change in Wales using remote sensing. He will be concentrating his research on the Dyfi Biosphere area. He has many data sets available for the use of this project which have now been collated and stored safely along with other lists of data we are accumulating. Alisdair has said the proposed IGIBS tool and mapping application would be very useful for his research as it would draw together data sets compiled by other researchers. It could also act as a place to store his data sets so that they are easy to access, view, and compare. He would particularly like to use the LiDAR data from the Dyfi Biosphere.

In the process of collating the data sets for this project we have acquired LiDAR data of the area from a Dr. Angela Harris who is a lecturer at Manchester University and has been researching the use of remote sensing in monitoring northern peatland hydrology. She has also provided hyperspectral data and aerial photographs which will be very useful for Professor Richard Lucas who is working on a BIOSOS project in the Dyfi Bioshere and again for Alisdair Cunningham’s PhD research.

Already this project is linking people and their data sets with each other and should eventually prove to be a valuable and expanding resource to all researching and learning about the Dyfi Biosphere.