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 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.

Apr 202011

Meeting with Mike Bailey (Senior Reserve Manager for the Dyfi National Nature Reserve) of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) to discuss the sampling of habitats across Borth Bog from the 26th April (for three days). Three areas were considered for sampling to support the BIO-SOS project. Datasets linked to Borth Bog were discussed and Mike will complete a data table with Becky.

 Posted by at 15:23 User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Mike Bailey BIO-SOS meeting
Apr 192011

For the Dyfi catchment, the main datasets acquired by satellite and airborne sensors have been collated and a description provided, including dates, with this undertaken to support, in part, biodiversity and land cover change projects being conducted through IGES. Satellite sensor data available include Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS), SPOT High Resolution Geometric (HRG), Landsat and Terra-1 ASTER. Airborne datasets available include LiDAR, hyperspectral data and aerial photography. Hugh Evans from Forest Research also visited to discuss options for postgraduate dissertation work in the Dyfi Biosphere over the next few months.

Apr 182011

A number of datasets have now been identified and which may be put together within a centralised data store (where available). In particular, we have focused on the following:

a) Vegetation maps for the Dyfi catchment, within these including the Phase 1 Habitat Survey, the National Vegetation Classification (NVC), the Land Cover Map 1990 and 2000.
b) Soils datasets, including types.
c) Protected areas
d) Satellite sensor data, namely Landsat.

More datasets will be collated from other organisations and their accessibility to a range of users will be noted (e.g., students, academics, researchers, external). These datasets will, depending on permissions, be available to use within the project.

 Posted by at 15:15 User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on IGES datasets
Apr 182011

Information is now being collated on available data sets to incorporate in this project. We have identified a number of case study users from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES), Aberystwyth University and Forest Research in Wales, Forestry Commission who have previously and are currently working on projects based in the Dyfi Biosphere.

As part of the process for gathering this information users are being actively encouraged to create dataset metadata using GeoDoc tool – found within the GoGeo area on the EDINA web site. This utility is used to create standards compliant dataset metadata for upload into catalogues, eg, GoGeo! so that the data can be discovered, evaluated and possibly reused. Note that you need to have UK Access Management credentials to use GeoDoc.

Users that we have identified so far consist of academics, researchers and students within IGES in Aberystwyth University, and from the Centre for Catchment and Coastal Research (CCCR) which is a consortium of Aberystwyth University and Bangor University. Users will also include researchers from Forestry Research in Wales, Forestry Commission and staff from the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). Within these bodies individuals have been identified and we will develop these as user case studies. We are currently collating their data sets and identifying their relevant uses and needs.

In the following weeks we will collate and input data sets some of which are complete whilst others are work in progress. These data sets will come from the individual user case studies. The user case studies will be something like the following:
• IGES Academic/Researcher
• IGES/CCCR Academic/Researcher
• IGES MSc Student
• IGES PhD Student
• IGES Digital Map Librarian
• Forestry Research Researcher
• CCW Senior Reserve Warden for Dyfi Biosphere Area

A ‘shopping list’ of data sets that are either not currently available to these users (and which they would like access to) or are difficult to find will also be identified and collated. Already we have had requests for biogeochemical data sets from IGES/CCCR, and for remote sensing data sets from Forest Research. It is hoped that Welsh Assembly Government may be able to help with some of these data and that, even if their use is restricted, we may be able to offer access to using web services secured using Shibboleth (the software underlying the UK Access Management Federation).

So far we have identified from the academic/researcher evidence that both academic staff and students would find the Web Map Service (WMS) “factory” application useful as a research and teaching tool. It has also been suggested by one of the academic users that an undergraduate module could be developed around the use of open geospatial standards. It was agreed that using the GeoDoc metadata input facility would generally improve data management practice for research projects.

Any comments from the user case study individuals or other potential users would be much appreciated to ensure the relevant uses and needs of all involved in this project are identified. The information will feed into the development of the mapping application and the identification of future requirements.

 Posted by at 15:05 User Reqs Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Collation of data sets
Apr 162011

IGIBS is going to try (I say try advisedly, as this is a project) to create a tool to allow the semi-automatic creation of an OGC Web Map Service (WMS). This will allow users to publish their data for viewing in a variety of WMS clients, one of which will be a demonstration mapping application we create. This page will have a technical focus and will be used to report bugs, progress, planning, etc. The idea is that as the project matures, this is where we collect information on:

  • Recommendations for what is necessary to take the “WMS factory” tool
    into production (if its doable)
  • Suggestions for enhancements to the relevant components of the UK
    academic SDI
  • Suggestions for next steps to take the mapping application forward
 Posted by at 15:35 Techie Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Technical Category
Apr 162011

This is a big topic that is often neglected and often proves fatal for SDI initiatives meeting their ambitions.  The reality is that much valuable data is restricted; this is true for the UK National SDI (UK Location Programme), the UK academic SDI and INSPIRE.  A genuinely interoperable means of allowing OGC Web Service clients (like the one we are developing in IGIBS) to consume WMS (open and restricted) from multiple distributed organisations without having to provide multiple user credentials is difficult.  Building on much prior work, we are going to try to demonstrate in IGIBS how Shibboleth – the open source SAML implementation that powers the UK Access Management Federation – can be used to allow protected public sector WMS can be made securely available to the academic sector.  We will also demonstrate the converse, how users in the academic sector can securely publish their data and control who can see it if they need to.  We will use this page to solicit comment and hopefully gather recommendations for further work.

 Posted by at 15:33 Security Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Security Category