Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Lidar workshop in João Pessoa, Brazil

I've spent the past few days in João Pessao on the very Eastern tip of Brazil - the city where the sun rises first! I can certainly confirm that the sunrises are pretty spectacular - swimming off the beach from my hotel at dawn is pretty special, particularly looking back at the weirdly retro/futurist James Bond villain hotel.
Seeing the sun first in all the Americas!
The Hotel Tropical Tambau, with missile silo, shark tank and concrete nuclear bunker.
I was invited as part of the XVIIth Brazilian Symposium on Remote Sensing (XVII SBSR), a biennial science meeting for Brazilian agencies and specialists in remote sensing. The Brazilian government has invested heavily in remote sensing infrastructure and training for environmental monitoring over the last two decades, particularly in an effort to monitor and control deforestation and degradation, but more widely to support mapping, commercial and conservation activities. I was invited by Dr. Veraldo Liesenberg, a lidar expert from the Department of Forest Engineering (DEF), Santa Catarina State University (UDESC), to come and help lead a workshop in lidar remote sensing for forest mapping and monitoring, in conjunction with Dr. Akira Kato from the School of Horticulture, Chiba University, Japan. The workshop was run over the weekend prior to the main meeting (along side a range of other courses) and was aimed at showcasing the utility of lidar, both TLS and ALS, and in combination with image and other data, for addressing forest science. 
The meeting was held at the very new and shiny "Centro de Congresso de João Pessoa" of João Pessoa city, Brazil. The local authority have built the centre to attract large conferences o the region.
The workshop seemed to go down well and we had around 20 attendees who were mostly students, but also some postdocs, in Brazilian universities, all interested in what lidar could do for them. We presented new results from our work in ALS and TLS, and then ran a series of practicals looking at lidar data and some of the free tools that can be used to handle them, including Cloud Compare, Fusion, WEB-lidar, libLAS and so on. It was definitely an interesting meeting and I met a number of people with interests in our TLS work, and who potentially have plots and data that would be mutually beneficial. 
Everyone wants UAVs. And lidar.
There was also a large commercial expo as part of the conference, showcasing some very interesting new developments in UAV and ground-based tech. UAVs appear to be particularly attractive here due to the relatively lower cost of entry than many other, piloted systems. And the instrumentation and software is obviously advancing rapidly to allow exploitation of these platforms. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

New ESA Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

The new ESA Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) I've been involved with has now gone live. The MOOC is a free, 5 session course of 2-3 hours a wekk, providing an introduction to monitoring of climate with satellites. It's aimed at policy makers, students, and anyone with a general interest in climate and so it's not technical. I was involved as one of the presenters, but don't let that put you off - some of the other bits are excellent. Please circulate to anyone you think might be interested. There's some really interesting bits on the solid earth, fires, the cryosphere, oceans, atmosphere and then other services which depend on EO data.

The course information page is here and you can see some clips from our trip to the Amazon in the trailer below (e.g. at 2:19 - 2:30).