Determination of radiance spectra (using a GER 3700 hyperspectral radiometer) on Yarnton Mead, an ancient floodplain meadow near Oxford. PhD-student Suvarna Punalekar (Felix scholar, University of Reading). These data serve as calibration for the airborne remote sensing data.
Anne Verhoef, Kevin White and Suvarna Punalekar a PhD student funded by the Felix Scholarship scheme, have been successful in an application to the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility (ARSF). The ARSF will fly the NERC -funded network of sensors project (FUSE) project site at least 3 times (weather permitting), possibly more often. Airborne remote sensing provides an efficient method for the rapid collection of data over a specified area.
The FUSE project is based at Yarnton mead an ancient hay meadow that is part of the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation. The team are investigating the interactions between the hydrological, thermal and nutrient regime and the functioning of plant communities in this example of a floodplain meadow.
Some floodplain meadow ecosystems have evolved into highly bio-diverse plant communities due to the continuance of traditional management practices. These areas are important for flood storage and sediment retention. The UK now has less than 1500 ha of this unique habitat remaining and the habitat has been given protection under the European Habitats Directive. In order to conserve and better exploit the services provided by floodplain meadows, an improved understanding of its functioning is essential.
Anne Verhoef with the NERC Dornier 228 aircraft
The NERC ARSF remote campaign with FUSE field observations gathered during 2013 will provide an important contribution to monitoring the biophysical properties as well as vegetation processes. The remote sensing and in-situ data will be used in conjunction with the SCOPE model, to ensure the derived information on the functioning of the floodplain ecosystem is mechanistically sound.
The RGS Field Centre Grant is a new annual award aimed at supporting important field work at research centres in some of the world’s poorest countries. Each project must incorporate hands-on training of local early-career scientists.
Dr Kevin White, the first recipient of this award, reports on the project: “The aim of the project was to design and deliver a training workshop in modern dune survey techniques at the Biennial Congress of the South African Association of Geomorphologists, held at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre in September 2012. There were 60 participants from 10 countries at the conference, including 25 students. The location provided easy access to the Namib dunefield, allowing us to incorporate a hands-on fieldwork component to the workshop.
The workshop took place over two days. The first session began indoors with a presentation by Kevin White on Differential GPS surveying techniques. Mark Bateman (Sheffield) then introduced optical dating methods. Charlie Bristow (Birkbeck) wrapped up the presentations with an introduction to ground penetrating radar (GPR). Conference participants were then guided to Station Dune where Bristow and White had set up the DGPS and GPR equipment. The IAG sponsored students were taught how to use the equipment and they collected data along a transect up the west flank of the dune. The second session on the following day was led by Charlie Bristow who presented the results of the previous day’s fieldwork and discussed their interpretation. All sessions were very well attended and the workshop exceeded our expectations.
With the help of the conference organiser Dr Frank Eckardt (UCT), we were able to approach the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG) to fund three bursaries to support the attendance of young African geomorphologists at the conference and workshop. The three recipients selected by IAG were Nandipha Mabuza (Swaziland), Christel Hansen (Namibia) and Johanna Niipele (Namibia).”