We have a wide range of talent and expertise at the Catapult, and our staff are continually working on new research and development in their focus areas. The below library details a sample of publications authored by members of the Catapult as well as international conference proceedings. Please click on the links to read the abstract and to access the full publication.




The worsening impacts of land reclamation assessed with Sentinel-1: The Rize (Turkey) test case

Catapult Co-Author: Cristian Rossi

Massive amounts of land are being reclaimed to build airports, new cities, ports, and highways. Hundreds of kilometers are added each year, as coastlines are extended further out to the sea. In this paper, this urbanization approach is monitored by Persistent Scatterer Interferometry (PSI) technique with Sentinel-1 SAR data. The study aims to explore this technology in order to support local authorities to detect and evaluate subtle terrain displacements. The test site of this study, Rize, Turkey, has been declared at high risk of collapse and radical solutions such as the relocation of the entire city in another area are been taken into consideration. A media fact-checking approach, i.e. evaluating national and international press releases on the test site, is considered for the paper and this work presents many findings in different areas of the city.

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In-season biomass estimation of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) using fully polarimetric SAR imagery

Catapult Co-Author: Dan Wicks

Accurate estimation of crop biophysical and biochemical parameters during crop growing seasons is essential for improving site-specific management and yield estimation. The potential ability of fully polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data in estimating above-ground biomass of oilseed rape was investigated in this study.  This study provides guidelines for in-season monitoring of crop growth parameters with SAR data, which further improves crop monitoring capability in adverse weather conditions.

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A Nonlocal InSAR Filter for High-Resolution DEM Generation from TanDEM-X Interferograms

Catapult Co-Author: Crisitian Rossi

This paper presents a nonlocal InSAR filter with the goal of generating digital elevation models of higher resolution and accuracy from bistatic TanDEM-X strip map interferograms than with the processing chain used in production. The currently employed boxcar multilooking filter naturally decreases the resolution and has inherent limitations on what level of noise reduction can be achieved. The proposed filter is specifically designed to account for the inherent diversity of natural terrain by setting several filtering parameters adaptively.

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Using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) stacking techniques for remote monitoring of bridge scour failure

Catapult Co-Author: Cristian Rossi

Scour is the removal of ground material in water bodies due to environmental changes in water flow. It particularly occurs at bridge piers and the holes formed can make bridges susceptible to collapse. The most common cause of bridge collapse is due to scour occurring during flooding, some failures causing loss of life and most resulting in significant transport disruption and economic loss. Consequently, failure of bridges due to scour is of great concern to bridge asset owners, and is currently very difficult to predict since conventional assessment methods foresee very resource-demanding monitoring efforts in situ.

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Lithium Exploration Using a Multi-Disciplinary Earth Observation Framework Over Cornwall, UK

Catapult Co-Authors: Cristian Rossi, Maral Bayaraa, Stephen Spittle, Anoop Pandey, Niki Henry

The increasing global effort to overcome the addiction to fossil fuels is driving the demand for ‘green’ metals such as lithium (Li). At the forefront of green technologies is electric cars, where Li-ion rechargeable batteries are a fundamental component. Lithium is sourced from three main types of deposits: pegmatites, continental brines and hydrothermally altered clays, where brines supply three-fourths of the world’s Li – mainly due to its cost effectiveness in extraction.

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Geomorphometric analysis of the 2014-2015 Bárðarbunga volcanic unrest, Iceland, using multi-temporal TanDEM-X DEMs

Catapult Co-Author: Cristian Rossi

Topographical information is of major interest when assessing material flows throughout active volcanic systems. In order to obtain accurate estimates of temporal elevation changes at volcanic edifices, time sequences of digital elevation models (DEMs) are required. DEM time series from the TanDEM-X mission provide records of topography at remarkably high temporal and spatial resolution and were applied to monitor topographical change during the 2014-2015 Bárðarbunga volcanic eruption in Iceland.

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Tailings Dams Monitoring using Satellite-Enabled Technologies

Catapult Co-Authors: Maral Bayaraa, Stephen Spittle, Chris Williams, Vladimir Stoiljkovic

Tailings dams risk reduction is one of the highest priorities within the mining industry and presents significant challenge. Tailings dams are often in remote or difficult to reach locations and any catastrophic failure can cause devastation. Even less catastrophic failures, such as leaching through dam structures and aquifers, can have far reaching effects on the local infrastructure, resulting in general public’s characteristically poor perception of the extractive sector. Unfortunately, in most developing countries, including large areas of Latin America, illegal or informal mining activity greatly increases the risks posed by tailings, so implementation of adequate monitoring and management systems is essential. These and other socio-economic and environmental concerns are now driving the development of improved and automated structural health monitoring systems for Tailings dam Management Facilities (TMFs).

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An Earth Observation Framework for the Lithium Exploration

Catapult Co-Authors: Cristian Rossi, Maral Bayaraa, Stephen Spittle, Anoop Pandey, Niki Henry

This paper presents an overview of a large research project involving collaboration from the government, academia and industry on lithium (Li) exploration in South-West Cornwall, UK. Scope of the study is to assess the utility of remote sensing technologies in the mining sector, with a particular focus on lithium. A wide range of datasets (including multispectral and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)) are used to delineate the various steps of the project. The ultimate aims are the generation of a map with the probability of lithium occurrence and a complementary environmental baseline study. For the first aim, geological and vegetation anomalies maps indicating proxies for the presence of lithium, derived from multi- and hyperspectral data, and fault lines, derived from SAR imagery, are integrated with in-situ data and a ground-based campaign. The second aim involves the generation of a high-resolution land cover classification and a historical time series analysis to provide an environmental baseline study for the assessment of the impact of mining activities.

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Testing the Interoperability of Sentinel 1 Analysis Ready Data Over the United Kingdom

Catapult Co-Authors: Daniel Wicks, Thomas Jones, Cristian Rossi

To access the valuable information contained within Earth observation data, users are required to undertake a series of complex pre-processing steps to turn the data from a ‘raw’ unprocessed format into a state that can be analysed. and remove barriers to access the concept of ARD has been proposed to improve opportunities for exploitation. This paper seeks to explore whether true interoperability can be achieved for Sentinel 1 data through the application of a standardised set of pre-processing steps.

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The sustainability study of the recent construction projects in Istanbul through Sentinel-1 Persistent Scatter Interferometry

Catapult Co-Author: Esra Erten & Cristian Rossi

Turkey, as a developing country, is designing and performing huge construction projects around Istanbul, now that it is the most populated city of the country. Beginning from the 1960s rapid urbanization has been taking place due to the industrialization, which also brings a huge increase in the population. Yet, construction projects have been accelerated especially during the last decade, and many new projects are scheduled to be finished in a couple of years. Thus, the environmental change that is caused by these ongoing engineering projects should be defined by the monitoring techniques as a function of time. Ground based observations are generally carried out in order to monitor the deformations within the construction sites, especially through geometric levelling, and GNSS techniques. These monitoring techniques provide vertical and horizontal control respectively, thus they need to be performed simultaneously, in order to fully understand the behaviour of the deforming area. However, in most cases these monitoring measurements are only scheduled within the period of the construction process, and ensuing deformations are not generally considered.

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Is Rize (Turkey) really at risk of collapse?

Catapult Co-Authors: Esra Erten, Cristian Rossi & Terri Freemantle

Rize, a city with about a hundred thousand inhabitants on the Black Sea coast in the north-east of Turkey, has been reported on the 21st of February 2018 to be at high risk of collapse. For this reason, the local municipality and the government are planning radical solutions such as the relocation of the entire town centre in another place. Subsidence is occurring since the city centre has been built on artificial ground reclaimed to the sea in the 1960. Since then, many multi-floors buildings have been built despite the original planning that was forecasting a maximum of three floors per building. Moreover, the foundations of many buildings, below water level, are reported to be damaged.

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Geomorphometric analysis of the 2014–2015 Bárðarbunga volcanic eruption, Iceland

Catapult Co-Author: Cristian Rossi

Topographical information is of fundamental interest for a wide range of disciplines including glaciology, agriculture, communication network planning, or hazard management. In volcanology, elevation data are of particular importance when assessing material flows throughout a volcanic system. To obtain accurate estimates of time-varying topography in volcanic active regions, high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) are required. To monitor and evaluate topographical changes and especially volumetric gains and losses during the 2014–2015 Bárðarbunga eruption, Iceland, multi-temporal TanDEM-X DEM sequences were evaluated.

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Reimagining National Regulatory Approaches to Third Party Liability Insurance: Towards a Single Aggregated Policy

Catapult Author: Edmond Boulle

Extensive liability exposure for launching States in international space law has resulted in a number of States promulgating indemnity and third party liability (TPL) insurance requirements as part of the authorisation procedure under national law. Though the detailed requirements vary across national laws, a common approach is discernible: The risk to the State posed by each new activity, and consequently the level of TPL insurance cover the prospective licensee must obtain (where applicable to the activity in question for which authorisation is sought) is determined by the regulator on a case-by-case basis.

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Rice Plant Height Monitoring from Space with Bistatic Interferometry 

Catapult Author: Cristian Rossi

This chapter provides an overview of the possibility to derive paddy rice plant heights with spaceborne bistatic SAR interferometry (InSAR). By using the only available interferometer in space, TanDEM-X, an investigation of rice crops located in Turkey is performed. Before analyzing the main outcomes, an introduction to the generation of elevation models with InSAR is provided, with a special focus on the agricultural land cover.

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Biophysical Retrieval in Temperate Mixed Forests of the UK

Catapult Contributor: Prof. Nick Veck MBE

Radar backscatter from forest canopies is related to forest cover, canopy structure and aboveground biomass (AGB). The S-band frequency (3.1–3.3 GHz) lies between the longer L-band (1–2 GHz) and the shorter C-band (5–6 GHz) and has been insufficiently studied for forest applications due to limited data availability. In anticipation of the British built NovaSAR-S satellite mission, this study evaluates the benefits of polarimetric S-band SAR for forest biophysical properties. To understand the scattering mechanisms in forest canopies at S-band the Michigan Microwave Canopy Scattering (MIMICS-I) radiative transfer model was used. S-band backscatter was found to have high sensitivity to the forest canopy characteristics across all polarisations and incidence angles.

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Mapping Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change with Airborne S-Band Radar

Catapult Contributor: Prof. Nick Veck MBE

Assessments of forest cover, forest carbon stocks and carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation are increasingly important components of sustainable resource management, for combating biodiversity loss and in climate mitigation policies. Satellite remote sensing provides the only means for mapping global forest cover regularly. However, forest classification with optical data is limited by its insensitivity to three-dimensional canopy structure and cloud cover obscuring many forest regions. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors are increasingly being used to mitigate these problems, mainly in the L-, C- and X-band domains of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Seasonal Health and Resilience for Ageing Urban Populations and Environments

Catapult Contributor: Terri Freemantle

People living in cities currently represent 54% of the total world population compared to 34% in 1960. Alongside this continued urbanisation, the world population is ageing rapidly. People aged 65 and older are expected to make up 22% of the total world population by 2050. The number of people aged 80 and older will also quadruple by 2050. These combined trends mean that more people will be exposed and vulnerable to climate change impacts in cities in the future.

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