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Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 18.83K | Year: 2010

Our Aim This project aims to develop and design a new satellite mission. This new mission concept will be a spaceborne multispectral canopy lidar (called SpeCL, speckle) that can measure the vertical profile of a forest and simultaneously determine the spectral characteristics of that profile. Since lidars can provide highly detailed 3D information on the structure of forest they have great potential in reducing the uncertainties in the terrestrial carbon cycle and of supporting the accurate mapping of land cover. The primary scientific objective of the SpeCL mission would be to determine the global distribution of above ground biomass in the worlds forests using an appropriate sampling strategy, and to reduce uncertainties in the calculations of carbon stocks and fluxes associated with the terrestrial biosphere. Why is this important? Greenhouse gases associated with forestry (deforestation and degradation) accounts for roughly 17% of global emissions, more than the entire global transport network. A recent report to the Prime Minister (the 2008 Eliasch Review on Financing Global Forests) predicts that without action, the global economic cost of climate change caused by deforestation alone could reach $1 trillion a year by 2100. Most emissions of carbon from land-use change are currently from the tropics as a result of deforestation, which releases the carbon stored in biomass and soils to the atmosphere (as CO2) as organic matter is burned or decays. The regular monitoring and assessment of land cover change is therefore essential to understand the extent and impact of natural and anthropogenic changes Furthermore, analysis of the global carbon cycle shows that the annual emissions of carbon are larger than the annual accumulations of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans, suggesting a terrestrial sink for carbon in addition to that attributable to changes in land use. Remarkably, this as yet unexplained residual sink seems to have increased over the last decades in proportion to total carbon emissions, implying that carbon feedbacks are offsetting each other. This balance is unlikely to persist. The SpeCL mission is an opportunity to constrain both the net emissions of carbon from land-use/land-use change, and the residual terrestrial sink. Any further delay in understanding the carbon budget may have serious long term consequences if we leave too little time to respond. How will we do it? Edinburgh has pioneered the development of the worlds first Multi Spectral Canopy Lidar (patent number 0808340.4). Using seedcorn funding from CEOI, we built the first 4-wavelength lidar, demonstrated its use in the lab and modelled the seasonal response. An airborne MSCL (A-MSCL) instrument has been designed and proposed to NERC on July 1st. In anticipation of future mission opportunities (and the long lead time required), there exists an imminent need for determining the feasibility and technical readiness of a spaceborne MSCL. In the first instance we will create a concept for the high cost, but low risk option of a traditional small satellite configuration with a cost ceiling of £100M. We will then aim to develop this concept to an ultra-low cost (<£5M), rapid deployment (within 3 years) micro-satellite platform using off-the-shelf components and where appropriate, proved technologies. To this end we will consider the highly novel, high risk, but very low cost option of using a modular CubeSat platform.

Smith D.J.B.,University of Nottingham | Smith D.J.B.,University of Hertfordshire | Dunne L.,University of Nottingham | Maddox S.J.,University of Nottingham | And 49 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

We present a technique to identify optical counterparts of 250-μm-selected sources from theHerschel-ATLAS survey. Of the 6621 250μm > 32-mJy sources in our science demonstration catalogue we find that ~60 per cent have counterparts brighter thanr= 22.4mag in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Applying a likelihood ratio technique we are able to identify 2423 of the counterparts with a reliabilityR> 0.8. This is approximately 37 per cent of the full 250-μm catalogue. We have estimated photometric redshifts for each of these 2423 reliable counterparts, while 1099 also have spectroscopic redshifts collated from several different sources, including the GAMA survey. We estimate the completeness of identifying counterparts as a function of redshift, and present evidence that 250-μm-selectedHerschel-ATLAS galaxies have a bimodal redshift distribution. Those with reliable optical identifications have a redshift distribution peaking atz≈ 0.25 ± 0.05, while submillimetre colours suggest that a significant fraction with no counterpart above ther-band limit havez> 1. We also suggest a method for selecting populations of strongly lensed high-redshift galaxies. Our identifications are matched to UV-NIR photometry from the GAMA survey, and these data are available as part of theHerschel-ATLAS public data release. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS. Source

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