University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Remote Sensing and Global Climate Change (GEGR10055)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryRemote sensing from satellite platforms has become increasingly important as the only way to obtain environmental data at the spatial and temporal coverage needed to understand the processes governing global climate change. The aim of this course is to explore the role of remote sensing in monitoring planetary scale phenomena, with particular focus on the use of techniques and instruments designed to monitor the global environmental properties of the Earth. The course will also consider the significance of these measurements for testing existing models, such as ozone depletion, the hydrological cycle, global climate change and other aspects of the Earth's environment.
Course description Week 1. INTRODUCTION (aims, course structure, context, history & importance)

Week 2. PRINCIPLES OF REMOTE SENSING (the underlying physical principles of remote sensing techniques, and some of the instruments currently in use).

Week 3. ATMOSPHERES (Dynamics, pressure, temperature, surface winds, water vapour, ozone, aerosols, cloud cover, precipitation)

Week 4. OCEANS (Sea surface temperature, ocean currents, ocean colour, bathymetry, ocean biomass, El Niņo)

Week 5. THE CRYOSPHERE (Snow and ice extent, ice sheet mapping & monitoring)

Week 6. GLOBAL WARMING (Earth radiation budget, global mean temperatures, cloud cover and feedback loops, EO and the Gaia hypothesis)


Week 8. LAND COVER AND THE BIOSPHERE (global biomass, terrestrial carbon dynamics, desertification, soil moisture, land-atmosphere interaction)

Week 9. NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS (global monitoring input to hazard warning and disaster management, radar interferometry, SST, extreme weather)

Week 10. CAPACITY BUILDING AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (global monitoring input to sustainable use of natural resources, international development and environmental security)

Week 11. REVISION SESSION (discussions and poster work)

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Environmental Sensitivity and Change (GEGR08001) AND Geomorphology (GEGR08002)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  38
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Class assessment: As outlined in course handbook

Degree assessment: One two-hour examination (2 questions) (60%) AND One 2,000 word essay (40%)

Overall mark for the course (ie degree coursework and examinations) of at least 40 to pass.
Feedback A short class essay received feedback that the students are asked to incorporate into a reworking of the same essay.

As part of the formative assessment, students are asked to make a short video on their course work topic. Formative feedback is given so that his can be incorporated into the degree assessment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. provide a detailed overview of remote sensing techniques used for measuring planetary scale processes, to convey the importance of such measurements and to explore how understanding in this subject has been developed
  2. explore issues of data quality, accuracy, validation and reliability, when critically assessing the value of remotely sensed data
  3. gain knowledge of appropriate remote sensing terminology
  4. think about remote sensing within a wider subject and to emphasise the role of remote sensing as a compliment rather than an alternative to other monitoring methods
  5. critically identify and analyse complex problems in the field of remote sensing and global climate change
Reading List
R.J. Gurney, J.L. Foster and C.L. Parkinson, Atlas of satellite observations related to global change (Cambridge University Press, 1993).
J.E. Harries, Earthwatch: The climate from space (Ellis Horwood, 1990).
Lillesand and Kiefer, Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation (third edition) (Wiley: 1994)
Elachi, Introduction to the physics and techniques of remote sensing (John Wiley and Sons) 1987.
Houghton, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing (Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Graedel and Crutzen, Atmospheric Change, an Earth System Approach (Freeman, 1993).
I.H. Woodhouse, Introduction to Microwave Remote Sensing. (Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 2005)
I.H. Woodhouse,Thirteen Short Chapters on Remote Sensing. (Currently only available as an eBook from Amazon, 2013)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Iain Woodhouse
Tel: (0131 6)50 2527
Course secretaryMiss Kirsty Allan
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information