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PhD Research Project

[CI-568] Remote Sensing of UK Forest Health(Newcastle University, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences)

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Institution Location

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Newcastle University
Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Dr R Gaulton
Dr S Barr
No more applications being accepted
Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Forest health is an area of growing international concern, due to spread of tree diseases, climatic changes and increased risk of drought. Airborne and satellite remote sensing facilitates monitoring of tree health over large areas, but challenges to utilising such data remain. Variable understorey and soil characteristics can introduce errors in measures of canopy stress, whilst the heterogeneous nature of indicators of stress, such as leaf moisture content, makes validation of remote sensing estimates difficult using field-based approaches. This project will explore the potential of using remote sensing data for monitoring tree health in a UK context. The research will utilise airborne LiDAR and thermal imagery, alongside field structural and physiological measurements, field spectroscopy and dual-wavelength terrestrial laser scanning, to assess the potential of both existing sensors and possible future sensors (multispectral LiDAR) in monitoring changes in forest health. Modelling approaches may be used to simulate sensor responses and test developed algorithms. The project provides an exciting opportunity to work with the unique dual-wavelength SALCA laser scanner ( and is also likely to utilise imagery from the School’s unmanned aerial vehicle.

Candidates should be interested in plant ecology, forestry or geography and be willing to carry out UK fieldwork. Good quantitative skills are needed, and whilst training can be provided, experience of remote sensing, field data collection and computer programming would be an advantage. Candidates with a background in physical sciences, mathematics or computer science, and an interest in applying these fields to environmental problems are strongly encouraged to apply.

Further details and information on how to apply through the University’s online application form ( can be found at
If you have specific questions about the project, please contact Dr Rachel Gaulton on (0191) 222 6577 or

Funding Notes:

Applicants must be fully eligible for UK Research Council studentship awards (


Supervisors: Dr Rachel Gaulton, Dr Stuart Barr and Dr Juan Suarez (Forest Research)


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