Monday, 1 October 2012

New SALCA team member

The end of September saw an new addition to the SALCA team in the shape of a NERC-funded PhD student, Lucy Walker. With a background in geography, GIS, and ecology, Lucy will be investigating the use and application of SALCA for the study of forest carbon dynamics over the next 3 years, under the supervision of Mark Danson and Neil Entwistle at the University of Salford. Since starting in Salford, Lucy has been working on a range of preliminary experiments, as well as getting to grips with the data processing side of things! One of the ongoing experiments, investigating the signal measured by SALCA as trees dry out, began in December - with a festive edge!

Festive laser scanning

SALCA team goes to Silvilaser

September brought a trip to North America for the SALCA team. Rachel attended the ForestSAT 2012 conference in Corvallis, Oregon and the whole team was present at Silvilaser 2012 in Vancouver with a presentation providing an overview of the SALCA work and a more focussed poster on leaf moisture measurements. 
Silvilaser also brought the opportunity to learn more about SALCA’s American cousin, DWEL. The DWEL system, being developed by Alan Strahler at Boston University, shares some of the characteristics of SALCA, including dual near- and short -wave infrared lasers, but also has some important differences, opening the door for some interesting comparisons in the future. Silvilaser also brought the inaugural meeting of TLSIIG, the Terrestrial Laser Scanning International Interest Group, organised by Alan. The meeting raised some great possibilities for future activities, including instrument intercomparisons and data sharing. 

To top off a great trip, Mark and Rachel also found time for some rock climbing just up the road in Squamish.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Further SALCA Diaries Update

June 2012
Some great news for the SALCA project came in late June, in the form of a further successful NERC grant to examine the potential for monitoring vegetation moisture content at canopy scales. The New Investigator Grant to Newcastle University (PI: Rachel Gaulton), with Mark Danson and Mat Disney (UCL) as project partners, will fund a range of laboratory and field experiments to examine SALCA response to drought stressed tree canopies and to examine the potential for use of SALCA data and models, developed by UCL, to upscale leaf physiological measurements to the canopy scales of relevance to satellite measurements.  The project will kick-off in January 2013.

August 2012
To make the most of the beautiful British summer, we took SALCA back out in the field to test out a potential application for full-waveform TLS in hedgerow condition monitoring. This work, with France Gerard, Jo Staley and Sam Amy from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) arose from conversations in the back of a taxi after the FERA workshop and is intended to test TLS for deriving structural characteristics of hedgerows, an important habitat feature in the British countryside.  Needless to say the British weather rather let us down, with strong winds giving way later in the day to sudden showers. With careful use of an umbrella we managed to get some SALCA data and make some interesting field measurements of hedge density and LAI, and work is on-going to investigate the structural properties that could be extracted.

France Gerard and Sam Amy at the CEH testsite in Oxfordshire - with initial data visualisations of one of test hedges - and yes SALCA more or less waterproof!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

SALCA Diaries Update

It has been a while since we posted any SALCA updates! A lot has happened in that time and new people have joined the team.  The SALCA Diary entries are now up-to-date and the early entries are backdated.

December 2011 to January 2012
We carried out a range of experiments to examine the potential of SALCA for measuring the water content (or equivalent water thickness) of leaves. These were repeats of the experiments described earlier in the blog, but with more leaves from a number of species. The results looked good and hold promise for applications in monitoring water stress in vegetation.

Calibration experiments were also on-going, with Alberto carrying out a range of valuable experiments to provide data for reflectance and range calibration.

In mid-January, we held a workshop at Forest Research’s Northern Research Station near Edinburgh, co-organised by Dr Juan Suarez, to demonstrate SALCA and discuss the outcomes of the two NERC grants to develop and test the technology. With a good turn-out from a mixture of organisations and institutions some very interesting discussions were had and continued over dinner. The workshop was SALCA’s first public appearance and thankfully there was no stage fright, with demonstrations going well!

As the NERC small project grant came to a close, Alberto Ramirez left Salford in early 2012. To take up a position as a Research Associate at the University of Leicester. 

March – April 2012
The early results of the leaf drying experiments, showing a clear relationship between a ratio of the intensity of the two wavelengths and equivalent water thickness of the leaves, were presented at a Food and Environment Research Agency workshop in York (FERA Remote Sensing Workshop – Applications in the UK). These positive results open up possibilities for applications of SALCA in monitoring forest disease, drought stress and fire risk.

This was followed soon after by SALCA’s second public appearance at the LiDAR:net Knowledge Exchange Workshop on Terrestrial Laser Scanning, held at the University of Leicester from 2nd – 3rd April, and co-organised by Mark Danson and Nick Tate from the University of Leicetser. There were around 50 attendees drawn from industry and academia. A review of the state-of-the-art in terrestrial laser scanning by leading researchers was followed by demonstrations of SALCA alongside systems from a range of commercial TLS manufacturers and many useful group discussions on the potential of waveform lidar systems, TLS in general  and some horizon scanning. The opportunity for a Leicester curry was also not to be missed!

Mark Danson and Rachel Gaulton demonstrating SALCA at  LiDAR:Net Knowledge Exchange Workshop