Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research

Observation & Monitoring

Observation and Monitoring


Advanced methods for field monitoring and remote data acquisition are essential. These help us to understand processes of change within the natural and built environment. They help to generate input parameters for simulation models at an appropriate scale.

With funding from JIF, SRIF, NERC and EPSRC we have established:

  • 90m long BIONICS embankment facility
  • Eden flood monitoring facility 
  • Catchment Systems programme (a UNESCO HELP basin)

We're also establishing a long term urban monitoring facility.

These facilities are now delivering rich observational datasets. They're advancing our understanding of underlying processes and facilitating novel model development.


We've helped pioneer the terrestrial and airborne sensors of the future. We've developed novel methods for fusing multi-source geospatial data. 

We continue to explore emerging sensor platforms. We've recently invested in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. This has enabled rapid, low cost data collection. It's used for applications such as catchment modelling and road/rail earthwork stability assessment. 

Scale of operation

A distinctive feature of our research has been the range of scales over which it operates.

For example, we've worked on intensely monitored local sites. This has provided validation for the data acquisition methods needed for broad scale modelling.

Data management

We work on model parameterisation. This involves combining large volumes of monitoring data with other geographical data products. One example of this is the OS MasterMap. 

Management and efficient use of these datasets is a substantial research challenge for spatial-temporal databases. 

Central to our research programme is ongoing development of geospatial-temporal database facilities for Earth Systems Engineering applications. 

New tools

We're developing new tools to extract relevant variables for model parameterisation. 

Our research on structural pattern recognition is providing a suite of spatial data-mining, correlation and knowledge discovery tools.  This is tailored for Earth Systems Engineering applications. 

This is being implemented within a middleware framework. This is between the geospatial-temporal database and specific simulation models and decision support tools within our Informatics theme.