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JNCC broadens access to satellite data – development of analysis-ready data

Case Study 2019

JNCC broadens access to satellite data  – development of analysis-ready data (ARD)

JNCC works extensively on methods and techniques to provide high-quality, cost-effective evidence to support the assessment of habitat extent and condition. One exciting new opportunity with huge potential comes through accessing high-resolution Earth Observation data from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus satellites which provide full coverage of the Earth every 5–6 days.

The raw data from the satellites are made freely available, but processing and analysing them requires expert Earth Observation skills and involves significant investment in terms of time and cost. Finding the right data and pre-processing them into a form ready to use can be a lengthy process that represents as much as 70% of a project budget.

Technical innovation led by JNCC has achieved the automated pre-processing of raw data from Satellite-1 and Satellite-2 into standardised products in a range of user-friendly applications at a substantial cost saving. These analysis-ready data (ARD) products make the satellite data much more accessible for organisations in the public sector. They also reduce the duplication of effort and storage, since the data only needs to be processed once and is held in one place, on a cloud platform.

From this work, JNCC has generated UK standards for environmental evidence from satellite data to ensure it is produced consistently. These are feeding into the development of international standardisation and protocols.


Creating analysis-ready data

JNCC’s pre-processing of the data from Satellite-1 (radar data) and Satellite-2 (optical data) follows a complex set of steps, including spatially registering the data to ensure correct positioning, and radiometric calibration and normalisation to cleanse the data by stripping out the interference created as the signal travels through the atmosphere (e.g. from cloud or radiation).

Once ready to use, the data is published to Geoserver and made available for view and download through a web application designed for Geospatial data (Geonode), supported by a suite of web services accessible from the desktop.

The high-resolution data provided in this way enables the creation of detailed new maps which users can use flexibly to support environmental decision-making and planning.


Future use

ARD has proved itself to be a very efficient mechanism for enabling a new generation of habitat mapping, which can be deployed anywhere in the world. JNCC has provided ARD products, advice and training in all four countries of the UK, across the UK Overseas Territories, in Chile and also Peru.

JNCC is focusing new work on how ARD can be used for ‘big data’ analysis to detect changes in habitat condition over time, in the first instance for changes in grassland and peatland.


Team: Ecosystem Analysis

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