News

Sphere Newsletter Autumn 2018 – Published

We have published the Autumn 2018 edition of our Sphere newsletter. In this bumper edition of Sphere we are focusing on our Environment Systems Data Services which has been operating for the last two and a half years. As well as providing third parties with a rich vein of analysis-ready satellite data this availability is also having a considerable impact on our own and other collaborative projects. The prospects are very exciting. This issue also marks the launch of ‘eSphere’ which is delivered by email.

View and download this latest edition of Sphere here.

Data Services Demonstrator

The Environment Systems Data Services platform has received a new update which includes many enhancements and tweaks that will help subscribers get the most out of the data products we have on offer. As well as some updates to the portal landing page we have introduced our ‘Demonstrator’ to show how it is possible to map, model and monitor a variety of indicators.

Data Services Demonstrator
The Data Services Demonstrator shows how you can put your data to work

We have chosen two areas within the UK which offer diverse environments and land-management activities. The initial maps you can see on this site have been created by combining our Data Services products with other freely available open data, using open source GIS software. All the maps shown here are free to download under an open licence, once you have registered for a free Data Services account. This is a live site which we updating on a regular basis. Try it for yourself here.

Sphere Newsletter – Summer 2018 Published

This issue focuses on three very different projects and an update to our Data Services platform. A field trip to Uganda for the DFMS project covers the importance of ground surveys in validating satellite remote sensing. In Scotland we are undertaking research to select the most appropriate remote sensing technology for mapping trees outside woodland. In the Caribbean on the Turks & Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands we are involved in a Darwin Initiative project that will provide the evidence to help decision makers tackle post hurricane environmental recovery and enhance future resilience to natural disasters.

We have just launched the latest update to our Data Services platform plus our Data Services Demonstrator. The ‘Demonstrator’ is intended to show how it is possible to map, model and monitor a variety of indicators using our Data Services platform. This is a live site, which will be updated on a regular basis…worth a look!

View and download this latest edition of Sphere here.

Sphere Newsletter – Spring 2018 Published

In this issue we focus on projects that build on our previous work, the insights we deliver and the real impact they have on policy and in the actual decision making process. There are two very different projects, one based in the Caribbean and the other much closer to home here in Wales.There is also a short piece on how we are tackling the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), something that we will all have to become familiar with over the next few months. View and download the PDF here.

We are looking for an Ornithologist / Ecologist

We are looking for highly motivated mid-career ecologist, who is seeking to grow their track record, manage their own workload and develop their standing and business opportunities as a consultant ornithologist/ecologist. You will need to be passionate about the natural environment and sustainability with a view to problem solving and negotiating to get the best for biodiversity. Find out more.

Data Services Update – January 2018

There’s quite a lot that is new with our Data Services; what’s on offer, and how the data are licensed. You can sign up for a free account to download free Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellite imagery (and other, satellite-derived products) or sign up for a Premium account to do much more. You can access the data portal here.

Our Data Services products are capable of delivering multiple insights
Benefits of our Free account
  • Download readily available imagery from the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites
  • Access satellite-derived products that reveal information about our environment including habitats, soil, fire risk, agriculture, wetlands and forests.

Data available from Free accounts:

  • Seasonal Sentinel-1 (radar) imagery:
    • Summer 2016 image
    • Autumn 2016 image
    • Winter 2016 image
    • Spring 2017 image
  • Annual Sentinel-2 (optical) imagery and derived products:
    • 2016 ‘True Colour’/Red Green Blue (RGB) image
    • 2016 Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) image
    • 2016 Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) image
    • 2016 Nitrogen Reflectance Index (NRI) image
    • Optimised Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (OSAVI) image
Benefits of our Premium account:
  • Search our satellite image catalogue for the dates you need
  • Upload or draw your own areas of interest
  • Select the satellite-derived products you want (NDVI, EVI, NRI etc.)
  • Download only the areas you need
  • ‘Mask’ out cloud using our innovative cloud masking algorithm
What are the ‘satellite derived products?’
  • ‘True Colour’ Image/Red Green Blue (RGB) – The colours in a ‘true colour’ image appear as they would to a human. Suitable for visualisation purposes and observing change.
  • ‘Science Ready’ Image (Red Green Blue + NIR) – A multispectral image that provides information about the reflectance of blue, green, red and near-infrared light. Suitable for visualising changes in plant health, producing indices and classification.
  • Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) – A measure of vegetation productivity (measure of ‘greenness’). Bright areas correspond to healthy, productive vegetation. Bare ground and urban areas will appear dark.
  • Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) – Similar to NDVI, EVI is used in areas of dense canopy where the large amounts of chlorophyll can affect the suitability of NDVI. EVI helps to correct for soil background signals and atmospheric influences.
  • Optimised Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (OSAVI) – In areas where vegetation is sparse and soil is visible, OSAVI can be used to assess the abundance and vigour of vegetation. It is similar to NDVI, however it compensates for the effects of soil reflectance.
  • Plant Senescence Reflectance Index (PSRI) – An increase in PSRI indicates increased canopy stress, the onset of canopy senescence and plant fruit ripening. Applications include vegetation health monitoring, plant physiological stress detection plus crop production and yield analysis.
  • Nitrogen Reflectance Index (NRI) – Predicts plant nitrogen status. Can be used to estimate plant parameters and yield potential.
  • Modified Normalised Difference Water Index (MNDWI) – Using MNDWI is one of the most popular methods for water body mapping. It overcomes the shortcomings of NDWI by using shortwave infrared to replace near infra-red used in NDWI. In the last few decades, it has been widely applied to produce water body maps at different scales.
Our existing Sentinel-1 products are as follows:
  • Backscatter – A measure of the strength of the radar signal (measured in units of Sigma 0). Band 1 (VV) shows surface scattering; a rougher surface or urban areas with lots of right-angled structures generates higher VV backscatter. Band 2 (VH) relates to volume scattering; randomly oriented volumes, such as forests, generate higher VH backscatter than flat surfaces such as bare soil.
  • Backscatter with ratio band – The basic backscatter product with an additional ratio band. The ratio band helps visualise the product in an RGB composite, and also provides a measure of vegetation density. The ratio correlates well with biomass similar to optical indices such as NDVI NB: Backscatter products can also be produced on a decibel (dB) scale. This is useful for visualisation as you can see more detail in vegetation, but should be avoided for analytical purposes.

If you want to know more about interpreting our Sentinel-1 imagery check out our video here.

Sphere Newsletter – Winter 2017 Published

In this issue there is an update on our Data Services provision, another trip to the Caribbean this time to the island of Montserrat, ecosystem services assessment in Norfolk, a successful planning application for a hydro-electric scheme in Wales and the launch of our new ethics policy. We wish you all a successful 2018 and look forward to catching up with you soon. View and download the PDF here.