Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists Summer School

We are proud to report the successful conclusion of the Remote Sensing for Polar Scientists summer school. This, the second of two UK Polar Network events supported by the Earth Observation Technology Cluster, was arranged in conjunction with the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) and hosted by the NCEO at the meteorology department, University of Reading.
The aim of the summer school was to bring together ~30 students who were early in their research careers and introduce a variety of applications & techniques for the use of remotely sensed data in Polar & Cryospheric Science.
All students were invited to bring a poster detailing their own work, and almost all attendees took advantage of the opportunity. Displayed throughout the school in the room where refreshments were served, the posters inspired many lively discussions. A poster prize was awarded to Catharine Walker from University of Michigan for her clear & concise presentation on “Ice sheet dynamics applied to global ice shell of Enceladus.” Honorable mentions went to Rachael Turton for the most creative poster introduction any of us had ever heard, and to Tom Cowton for his poster on “Drainage system structure and evolution of a Greenland outlet glacier.”

Our first keynote, Andrew Shepherd, University of Leeds got the school off to a flying start with a lecture on Greenland & a practical introducing the use of feature tracking in optical satellite imagery (with Aud Sundal, University of Leeds). This session was complimented by a session from Seymour Laxon & Katharine Giles (Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling, University College London), about the Croyosat mission & remote sensing of Arctic sea ice. It was inspiring to hear about the design, implementation & now validation of the first results from Cryosat from people who have been involved in the story from start to finish.
The second day of the school saw presentation on the remote sensing and modeling of snow cover by Nick Rutter (University of Northumbria), Debbie Clifford (NCEO), and Mel Sandells (University of Reading); a related practical gave students a better understanding of the satellite-derived measurements of snow water equivalent. This was followed by a presentation by Pauline Miller (Newcastle University) on the use of LiDAR in building digital elevation models and some glaciological applications. Pauline also led a practical where students were able to use and interact with LiDAR data from a glaciated area in Svalbard. These sessions really gave students the opportunity gain familiarity with many new data types and their applications.
Paul Hardaker (Chief Executive, Royal Meteorological Society) spoke at dinner about the importance of sharing our science with a wider audience. This tied into a groupwork session run through the school in which students put together a modular presentation that aimed to introduce the use of Remote Sensing in different areas of Polar Science to those following us up the career ladder. The completed presentation aimed at early undergraduate / A-level will be available in the near future through APECS and the EO Tech Cluster.
The final day of the school included a practice presentation of the outreach materials created by the students, an introduction to European Space Agency (ESA) satellite data and open-source software to interact with it (Chris Stewart, ESA), and a final keynote delivered by Stephen Briggs (Head of ESA’s EO Science, Applications & Future Technologies Department). His wide-ranging talk on how Earth Observation can, has, and will contribute to a better understanding of the Earth and its climate gave a terrific capstone to the whole course.

Attendees shared that they appreciated the ability of the instructors to link together fieldwork, remote sensing & modeling in a variety of ways. The organizers (Debbie Clifford, Jen Hall, and Matthias Kunz) would like to extend a huge thanks to all the sponsors and instructors who made the school so enjoyable and educational. Based on the success of this event, the UKPN hopes to run another remote sensing summer school in the coming years.