Earth Observation from Space: The Cryosphere

Professor Andrew Shepherd

Professor of Earth Observation, University of Leeds

Course Description

In this course we will introduce you to the role of satellite ‘Earth observation’ (EO) technology in monitoring the Earth's Cryosphere and the data it produces. The Cryosphere is the portion of the Earth’s surface where water exists in solid form as glaciers, sea ice, ice caps, and areas of snow.

The first week will introduce you to EO and provide an introduction to the Cryosphere, and the challenges of monitoring it. The next 3 weeks will focus on sea ice, ice sheets & ice shelves, and mountain glaciers, rivers & lake ice and snow.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for people who want to learn more about monitoring the Earth's Cryosphere from space and the impact of climate change on it. The course can also help decision-makers, policy-makers, educators and communicators to gain a better insight into how satellite data can help them assess the the changes occurring in the Cryosphere, in order to better support adaptation and mitigation decisions.

Professor Andrew Shepherd

Professor of Earth Observation, University of Leeds

Professor Julienne Stroeve

Professor of Polar Observation & Modelling, UCL

Dr Michel Tsamados

Lecturer in Polar Observation & Modelling/Rheology, UCL

Professor David Vaughan

Director of Science, BAS

Dr Rosemary Willatt

Research Fellow, UCL

Dr Anna Maria Trofaier

Cryosphere Scientist, European Space Agency

Robbie Mallett

PhD Student at MOSAIC School, UCL

Dr Louise Sandberg Sørensen

Senior Researcher, DTU Space

Dr Lars Kaleschke

Sea Ice Physicist, AWI

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Course topics

The core videos of this course are labelled as topic videos.

We have also provided a range of optional further reading, links, and additional resources to help consolidate your learning. Here is a summary of what is available:

Topic links and resources

In each topic, once you have watched the video and read the accompanying text, you will find the following information:

  • Optional Further Reading: These are external links to further reading.
  • Featured Images and animations: Below the text on each video page, you’ll find the featured images and featured animations.
  • Interactives: On the 'Interactives' tab on relevent topic pages, you will find a satellite tracking application showing the current location of the satellites, a data viewer from the ESA WEkEO platform, as well as a data viewer, specially created for this course, allowing you to  explore a selection of data relevant to the themes and topics in this course. (Please note that due to maintenance, the data viewer is currently unavailable).

Quizzes and comments

  • Quizzes: At the end of each week there will be a quiz consisting of around five questions. These will help you consolidate your understanding of new topics, but are not scored. The feedback given with each answer also will also provide you with important information.

Weekly interactive exercises

At the end of each week, we have included a guided exercise, using interactive apps available on other websites, to help you become more familiar with looking at and working with EO datasets. You will be guided through the process of searching for, comparing and drawing conclusions from data relevant to some of the topics covered in that week.

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