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Sensing the world from space

Published: 
9 December 2005

A new research centre has been launched bringing together specialists in environmental remote sensing and spatial analysis from the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS).

It aims to promote multi-disciplinary research across key environmental areas and raise awareness of remote sensing and spatial analysis. It will also enhance teaching opportunities and collaboration with other academic institutions and commercial organisations.

CERSSA (Centre for Environmental Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis) involves around 50 academics from the University's Schools of Geography, Engineering Sciences, Civil Engineering and the Environment, Biological Sciences, Electronics and Computer Science along with the NOCS Laboratory for Satellite Oceanography.

Geography professor Giles Foody, who leads the initiative, said: "The University has a long track record of tremendous strength in this area. Consistently, our research academics head UK tables of the number of published papers in remote sensing. We hope CERSSA will help us develop links with others working in this field and secure more research funding to increase our understanding of this fascinating area."

Past research at the University has included mapping and analysis of sea surface temperatures and vegetation in different parts of the world using the ENVISAT satellite. Work on spatial analysis also addresses major issues. Researchers at Southampton have directed the 2001 census of population, developing the output geography of the programme.

Work by the NOCS team includes the development of new algorithms and altimetry techniques to assess parameters such as sea level, ocean currents and wave heights and analysis of the available datasets which have been gathered over a number of years using proven techniques to seek evidence of climate change.

CERSSA will be launched at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton with a keynote lecture by Dr Stephen Briggs, Head of Earth Observation Science and Applications at the European Space Agency.

Referring to the ESA Ministerial Council meeting on Monday and Tuesday, 5/6 December, he said: "The success of Europe in understanding the Earth system through satellite observations is second to none, and the UK is a leading player within the European team. Our challenge now is to use the better knowledge of the Earth derived from satellites to improve our custody of the planet." The launch of CERSSA is therefore particularly timely.

The establishment of CERSSA has already resulted in a new MSc in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis which combines modules from several areas of the University. It took its first students in October 2005.

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