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New breed of Hi-Tech environmental researchers to emerge from Leicester

University of Leicester is hub of new €3.5m research centre using satellite technologies to tackle environmental issues.

The University of Leicester is to launch a new €3.5m research centre that will train a new breed of hi-tech environmental researchers for the future – skilled in using the latest satellite technologies to tackle pressing environmental issues.

The new centre will also lead to development of new methods for research and addressing disaster relief following landslides and floods as well as for climate change monitoring, protection of tropical rainforests, lake water quality measuring and coastal erosion.

The University of Leicester was chosen to lead the project as it is a world leader for space research and satellite monitoring and is internationally recognised for its cutting edge research training in remote sensing.

The new European Centre of Excellence in Earth Observation Research Training, GIONET, will develop better methods for monitoring climate change, environmental disasters and land cover change.

With the changes in the planet and its climate, reliable, thorough and up-to-date environmental information is essential for understanding these changes, the impact they have on people’s lives and how to handle them.

Coordinator of the project, Professor Heiko Balzter, Head of the Department of Geography, commented:

“GIONET will lead to better satellite monitoring methods to control tropical deforestation, help people affected by natural disasters and adapt to climate change.”

GIONET will also satisfy the demand for more researchers and provide skilled personnel for the European Earth observation programme Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) land monitoring and emergency services.

Professor Balzter, who has contributed to the development of the European land monitoring from space since the very inception of GMES, commented:

“GIONET is training 14 young researchers in satellite remote sensing over the next 4 years. These young scientists will become the research leaders of tomorrow.

“They will be placed in industry and Universities and experience working abroad, as well as getting the best technical training and scientific education.

“At the same time each student will work on a research project and make a practical impact on our ability to monitor the planet from satellite.”

“Each full GIONET partner organisation is looking to recruit the brightest research students out there, who can really make a big impact on our future satellite monitoring capability,” added Professor Balzter.

Funded by European Commission, Framework Programme 7 and Marie Curie Programme, GIONET is collaboration between international partners from the private and public sector:

  • University of Leicester (Coordinator)
  • Infoterra UK Ltd.
  • Gamma Remote Sensing AG, Switzerland
  • Institute of Geodesy and Cartography, Warsaw, Poland
  • Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany
  • Balaton Limnological Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • German Aerospace Research Establishment
  • DEFiNiENS AG, Germany
  • Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy
  • ITT Visual Information Solutions Ltd., UK
  • SpectoNatura, UK

The consortium coordinator is Prof. Balzter (Geography), and contributions to the training programme are made by the G-STEP project (GMES Space Technology Exchange Partnership; Director Prof. Paul Monks, Chemistry, Deputy Director Prof. John Remedios, Physics and Astronomy).