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Monks Wood



Monks Wood is National Nature Reserve situated in Cambridgeshire. An ash-oak woodland has been present on the site for over 2,000 years. In the past, the wood was managed as coppice and some areas were clear-felled. It then became National Nature Reserve in 1953 as its high biodiversity in ground flora and insects was recognised as vital for local wildlife. The site coordinates are: 52º 24' N, 00º 14' W.


The Centre of Ecology & Hydrology of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is based next to Monks Wood National Nature Reserve. The research programmes taking place at the centre include Earth Observation, Ecological Risk, Environmental Processes & Monitoring and UK Biological Records Centre.

The Earth Observation research team is working on the testing and development of EO and optical remote sensing techniques and instruments. The aim is to improve environmental research, monitoring and surveying capabilities.

Projects: Overview

The centre is involved on several EO projects: Climate and Land Surface System Interaction Centre (CLASSIC), Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Land Cover Map.

CLASSIC is a consortium of researchers aiming to reduce uncertainity in assessing the effects of climate change. In this context EO data are used for modelling the climate and in particular the mechanisms taking place between land surfaces and the atmosphere.

GMES is a project co-funded by the European Commission and the European Space Agency that aims to gather data and to provide accurate information on environmental issues to decision-makers. Examples of the data provided include up-to-date weather and pollution reports.

Land Cover Map is a database of geographical information derived from satellite imagery. It was produced by a semi-automated classification of data from the satellite's Thematic Mapper sensor. Scenes are divided into parcels that are then characterised by a list of attributes attached to them. There are 25 classes of land cover including semi-natural, cultivated and urban landscapes, recorded on a 25 metre grid, covering the all of Great Britain.

Current remote sensing research at the site (2005)

Monks Wood is the geometric calibration site for the NERC Airborne Research and Survey (ARSF), providing a set of accurately located geometric targets, used to derive view angle vector calibration for the current instrument suite on the NERC aircraft. Acquisition of relatively frequent over-flights of the Monks Wood NNR are being used to develop an understanding of the phenological changes in deciduous woodland species, to complement the spectral discrimination of species, provided by single date imagery.

CEH Monks Wood will shortly begin operational acquisition of aerosol optical depth and retrieved aerosol size distributions, using a CIMEL sunphotometer, as part of the international, NASA lead, AERONET sunphotometer network.

A NERC Earth Observation Enabling Fund Research Grant has funded the implementation of a GUI for the MODTRAN 4 radiative transfer code, as part of a larger programme to implement an operational atmospheric correction scheme for remotely sensed airborne data from the NERC ARSF sensor suite. Instrumentation is being developed to provide in-flight characterisation of the size-resolved aerosol concentration for input to the atmospheric correction scheme.

The Section for Earth Observation is currently implementing a processing line to receive and process, in near real-time, daily data from the NASA MODIS sensors, received by the NERC Dundee Satellite Receiving Station (DSRS). The aim is to provide 8-day, cloud-cleared, composites of vegetation indices at 250m spatial resolution for studies of vegetation canopy phenology. Once implemented the processing line will work in parallel to process the 5-yr back archive of MODIS data to develop an extended time series for the UK.

Figure 1.
Geocorrected ATM imagery of Monks Wood NNR, using near-infrared, middle infrared and red spectral wavelengths (channels 7, 9, 5),
discriminating deciduous and conifer woodland tree species.


Links for further information

Key contacts for the Monks Wood site

Mr Andrew K. Wilson
Head, Underpinning Technologies Group
Section for Earth Observation
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
CEH Monks Wood
Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon
Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS
Tel: (01487) 772489 (direct)
Fax: (01487) 773467


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© NCAVEO, 2005
Network for Calibration and Validation of Earth Observation data
School of Geography, University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK

Last updated 13/01/2006