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 152011
 

As you know from previous blog entries the Dyfi Virtual Observatory (DVO) is a similar project to IGIBS and is also based at  Aberystwyth.  I had a meeting with Nicola from the DVO yesterday and we agreed to help each other out with  data sets where possible.  I thought it would be good to give a little more detail on their project so you can see how it compliments IGIBS.

The DVO is aiming to provide anyone, with an interest in the Dyfi catchment area, with a resource to process spatial data for a range of uses. Their plan is to be holders of data sets that can then be analysed and the results used privately or publicly.  To achieve this and to add processing power it is planned to make use of Cloud Computing. One example they are working on is flood risk calculation, which has obvious overlap with the  kinds of data IGIBS is looking at.

The focus of the project is more socioeconomic than IGIBS but nevertheless any extra data sets that we gain access to, that are tailored to the Dyfi area, will be of benefit to IGIBS and the end users here at IGES.

Thee `DVO web site is immenent but in the mean time you can see some impresive photos of the Dyfi area on their photostream at  flicker

 Posted by at 12:02 asides Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Dyfi Virtual Observatory
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.

Jun 062011
 

The two lists of benefits below is neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive.

Any collaborative project can be a tricky balancing act and competing agendas is a well known rock upon which many a ship has foundered.  Significant effort was expended when putting the IGIBS proposal together and at project initiation to make it clear we are concentrating on deriving mutual benefit.

Benefits to the wider university sector:

  • The demonstration of Shibboleth being used to protect public authorities data and services could lead to greater interoperability between the academic and public sectors
  • The “Best Practice model for using UK academic SDI at the departmental level” should provide guidance for other universities and assist EDINA and the JISC in developing the academic SDI.
  • Increased use and enhancements of key elements of the UK academic SDI, ie, Go-Geo! GeoDoc, ShareGeo.
  • If it works, the “WMS Factory” tool could become a service that EDINA offers.  A means of publishing data that will interoperate with the network services being established by the public sector
  • Equally, it is intended that the tool can downloaded and installed locally by any organisations (not necessarily just in the academic sector) who wishes to make it easier for their users to publish data
  • The mapping application could emerge in the longer term as a key (geospatial) component of a future Dyfi Biosphere web presence, and not just in respect of research and education.
  • The mapping application could be an example of an application integrating public and academic sector data that can be repeated elsewhere

Benefits to the host institution (in this instance, the Institute of Geography and Earth Science at the Aberystwyth University):

  • Improved provision of educational resources (inventory of data, collection of data and knowledge of data access services) related to the local area, ie, the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve area
  • Greater understanding of open geospatial interoperability standards feeding into course development
  • Greater understanding of research data management issues potentially leading to improved departmental practices

What is not listed above are the benefits that might reasonably be expected to accrue outside the academic sector.  For example, to the public sector and to citizens, eg, people living within the Dyfi Biosphere area.  While the latter is not the primary focus of this short project, we are mindful of the role of academia and the need to make broader community contributions where possible.

 Posted by at 20:12 Project Management Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on 2 of 7: Wider IGIBS Benefits to Sector & Achievements for Host Institution
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
Jun 032011
 

The overall aim of the IGIBS project is to try and improve the relationship between the UK’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) as manifested through the UK Location Programme (UKLP) and the UK’s academic SDI.

Our main objective is to focus on use cases emerging from research and education related to a particular area – the UNESCO designated Dyfi Biosphere Reserve.  Once articulated, these user requirements will drive the creation of two pieces of software of wider applicability and assist Aberystwyth University in developing resources for use by local students.

We are building on much prior art, especially in the area of Access Control.  EDINA runs the UK Access Management Federation (UKAMF) and, while it might not be fashionable, the reality is that many SDI resources, eg, data and web services, are going to stay protected.  This is true both of INSPIRE at the European scale and the UKLP nationally.  We aim to show how Shibboleth (the open source software that underpins the UKAMF) can be used to enable a wider range of use cases, so that UK students can get access to both open and protected resources, eg, from UK public authorities like Welsh Government.

We expect that the main four products resulting from this project will be:

  1. Working prototype of a “WMS factory” tool
  2. Simple mapping application
  3. Best Practice model for using UK academic SDI at the departmental level
  4. Demonstration of UK access management technology being used to secure public sector services in combination with academic sector services

SDI is underpinned by open geospatial standards like the OGC’s Web Map Service (WMS).  The “WMS factory” tool will allow users to upload their data and instantiate a WMS so that their data can then be viewed online, via a simple mapping application, in conjunction with reference data from Welsh Government.

Shibboleth is already used in academia, we extend its use here to demonstrate how public sector data can be made securely available to authenticated and authorised users within academia.

The Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES) has ambitions to improve the way it educates students in the use of open geospatial interoperability standards and intends using the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve area as an exemplar.  To this end we are conducting an inventory of data for the area and creating a repository for educational use.  The “Best Practice model for using UK academic SDI at the departmental level” will feed into this activity as well as provide guidance for the wider university sector.

Jun 022011
 

Hope all those concerned with getting some favourable coverage for Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere are watching their televisions of an evening right now; specifically BBC2 for the next few weeks as Springwatch, that stalwart of Aunties nature programming is at Ynys-hir!

Isnt it brilliant turning on the box and seeing the intrepid trio sitting out on that decking with the evening sun on Mynydd y Llyn in the background?  I am unhappy to hear about the heron numbers going down, shocked by the cannibal Barn Owls, and flabbergasted nobody has pointed a camera at the Pied Flycatchers yet, did I miss that?  Being from Scotland, I get such a kick out of seeing these wee beauties round here – they are pretty scarce elsewhere.

 

Pied Flycatcher – photo by Rainbirder (Steve Garvie) 

Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

Seriously though, this is a great advert and national recognition for some of whats best about the Dyfi area, hope somebody steering Biosphere Reserve developments is taking notes.