Scientists join ecosystems initiative

University scientists are taking part in an initiative to share data and create ways to monitor environmental changes.

Researchers are teaming up with sustainability software and data firm Ecometrica to establish an Earth Observation Lab, which is aimed at deriving maximum benefit from vast amounts of spatial data produced by satellites. Those taking part hope that the scheme will enable scientists around the world to gain new insights into changes taking place, for example, in forests, agriculture and coastal ecosystems. In its first phase the project focuses on the forests of Brazil and Mexico.

Global links

One of our first applications will be to generate reports from our CARDAMOM ecosystem model, which estimates the changes in biomass for all forests across Brazil and Mexico, every month. Our next step will be global products. Our innovation is to use satellites to update the model as they detectforest clearance.

Prof Mathew WilliamsSchool of GeoSciences

The Earth Observation (EO) Lab will be built on Ecometrica's advanced cloud-based satellite data and mapping platform. It will be hosted at the School of GeoSciences and will be linked to a number of other EO Labs being established by Ecometrica around the world. These will be facilitated by the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP), and will build on the University’s links to the UK National Centre for Earth Observation.

Space is a big frontier for economic growth and job creation. Ecometrica's platform allows scientists querying large spatial data sets to share their research findings with organisations around the world and make it available to a wide variety of users in developing countries. At the same time as helping those working to improve the environment in far-flung corners of the world, the facility will help keep the University of Edinburgh at the cutting edge of global research.

Professor Mathew WilliamsSchool of GeoSciences

It’s excellent news that the University of Edinburgh is establishing an EO Lab. The larger the network, the more efficient and powerful it becomes. This allows scientists and environmental specialists around the world to share their research and collaborate on the development of innovative products and uses. We expect more universities to join the global network and set up EO Labs, which support sustainable forestry, agriculture and natural resource management.

Dr Richard TipperExecutive Chairman, Ecometrica

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School of GeoSciences