Earth Observation

Remote sensing obtains information about the ocean from a distance, usually from satellites or aircraft, and can be used to measure a wide variety of parameters from ocean temperature to plankton dynamics. These observations from space provide unique information which greatly aids understanding and management of our environment and are vitally important because they can observe vast areas of the Earth that are difficult to access and sample using traditional methods.

Our activities are centred on the remote sensing of the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere, whilst not ignoring the intimate connections between the ocean, the atmosphere and terrestrial, estuarine and lacustrine environments. We have a focus on several research areas:

  • Phytoplankton dynamics and ocean colour
  • Validation of Earth observation data
  • Exploitation of Earth observation data
  • Provision of EO services to NERC and European agencies
 

Finally, the group is also exploiting new capabilities from the ESA Sentinel programme for innovative applications, and, potentially, commercial services, such as for the aquaculture industry, working with PML Applications Ltd.

PML's use of satellite data

Making a difference

Our Earth Observation group enjoys a global reputation and has a proven track record in both pure and applied Earth observation science, and comprises experts in many complementary fields including remote-sensing, physics, meteorology, engineering, data visualisation and computing. PML also develops applications to address environmental questions, provide services for others and is working to commercialise its research via PML Applications Ltd.

With a flexible approach to problem solving, scientific investigation and interpretation, and a willingness to share its expertise and to work co-operatively world-wide our Earth Observation group is a partner in a multitude of national and international projects, latterly with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Copernicus Programme, as well as NERC, BBSRC and Defra research programmes.

Further information

Projects

Sentinel-3 Mission Performance Centre (S3MPC)

Sentinel-3 Mission Performance Centre (S3MPC)

Contact: Dr Graham Quartly

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Sentinel-3A satellite in February 2016 and Sentinel-3B in April 2018, as the start of a long-term...

EO4SD
Completed

Earth observation for sustainable development (EO4SD) - marine resources

Contact: Steve Groom

The world’s oceans generate goods and services with an estimated value of over $49.7 trillion per annum, equivalent to the world’s...

ESA-SOLAS - OceanFlux Greenhouse Gases
Completed

ESA-SOLAS - OceanFlux Greenhouse Gases

Contact: Professor Philip Nightingale

Transport of gases between the ocean and the atmosphere, known as ‘air-sea gas exchange’, have profound implications for our...

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You may be interested in...

News

1.25m dollar boost for Earth Observation research at PML

PML is delighted to announce a grant of almost £1 million towards its world-leading Earth Observation research programme – PML’s largest ever award from a charitable foundation! The award will aid the further development of how data from satellites, orbiting the globe to scan...

News

PML to lead major European Commission research project

Plymouth Marine Laboratory can announce today that it will lead a £4.5 million project to carry out research aimed at improving knowledge of coastal and inland waters obtained from satellite observations. The work will contribute to improved observation of water quality issues...

News

PML scientists share Earth Observation expertise in new MOOCs

PML scientists have recently been involved in two ‘MOOCs’ – Massive, Open, Online Courses – sharing their expertise in the field of Earth Observation.

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Selected key publications

Brewin, RJW; Hyder, K; Andersson, AJ; Billson, O; Bresnahan, PJ; Brewin, TG; Cyronak, T; Dall'Olmo, GD; de Mora, L; Graham, G; Jackson, T; Raitsos, D. 2017. Expanding Aquatic Observations through Recreation. Frontiers in Marine Science, 4. 351, doi:10.3389/fmars.2017.00351

Dall’Olmo, G; Dingle, J; Polimene, L; Brewin, R.J.W; Claustre, H. 2016. Substantial energy input to the mesopelagic ecosystem from the seasonal mixed-layer pump. Nature Geoscience, 9, 820-823. doi: 10.1038/ngeo2818

Groom, S; Sathyendranath, S; Ban, Y; Bernard, S; Brewin, R; Brotas, V; Brockmann, C; Chauhan, P; Choi, J-K; Chuprin, A; Ciavatta, S; Cipollini, P; Donlon, C; Franz, B; He, X; Hirata, T; Jackson, T; Kampel, M; Krasemann, H; Lavender, S; Pardo-Martinez, S; Mélin, F; Platt, T; Santoleri, R; Skakala, J; Schaeffer, B; Smith, M; Steinmetz, F; Valente, A; Wang, M. 2019. Satellite Ocean Colour: Current Status and Future Perspective. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6:485. doi:10.3389/fmars.2019.00485

Harris, L; Warren, M; Grant, M; Llewellyn, GM. 2017. Spectral Characterization of the AisaOWL. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 55(5), 2751-2756. doi: 10.1109/TGRS.2017.2653241

Racault, MF; Sathyendranath, S; Menon, N; Platt, T. 2017. Phenological Responses to ENSO in the Global Oceans. Surveys in Geophysics, 38(1), 277-293. doi: 10.1007/s10712-016-9391-1

Tilstone, G; Mallor Hoya, S; Gohin, F; Belo Couto, A; Sa, C; Goela, P; Cristina, S; Airs, R; Icely, J; Zuhlke, M; Groom, S. 2017. Which ocean colour algorithm for MERIS in North West European waters? Remote Sensing of Environment, 189, 132-151. doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2016.11.012