HPC will keep Aberystwyth team in the vanguard of 'Earth Sciences'

Richard Lucas

As one of the oldest and largest Departments of Geography and Earth Sciences in Britain, the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences (IGES) at Aberystwyth has always been at the cutting edge of innovations in teaching and research.

The launch of the HPC Wales project will help ensure it stays in the vanguard studying human geography and physical geography.

And, according to Professor Richard Lucas at the IGES, it will open up new avenues for collaborations with small to medium-size businesses (SMEs), Government organisations and educational institutions in Wales, as well as in the UK and internationally.

"Here at Aberystwyth, we are very excited at the potential opportunities the HPC project will open up.

"It will give us a massive competitive edge in research and analysing date and we are looking forward immensely to the project getting underway.

"At Aberystwyth, a significant element of our research focuses on the use of ground, airborne and space-borne datasets for better understanding and quantifying environmental change, particularly in relation to terrestrial vegetation, glaciers and hydrological systems.

"Modeling these systems is also an important component of our work and there are strong links with elements of human geography. Areas of particular interest include understanding and quantifying the response of subtropical and tropical ecosystems and glaciers to environmental change, hydrological and glaciological modeling, carbon cycle science and conservation of biodiversity.

"Many of the datasets exploited in this research are large for several reasons. Data from spaceborne optical and radar sensors that we use are available over entire countries (e.g., Australia, Chile and Brazil) and have and continue to be acquired on a regular basis.

"These time-series datasets offer unique insights into the past and present state of landscapes and can allow us to understand, model and predict changes that might occur in the future.

"With the provision of HPC, we have a far greater capacity to process and analyse data to address issues relating particularly to human impacts on landscapes and changes associated with climatic variation.

"We have long outgrown our current computing facilities and the HPC is very timely as it provides us with the capacity we now need and the opportunity to generate new and useful information, knowledge and skills for wider benefit.

"For these reasons, we are obviously very excited at the potential opportunities the HPC project will open up."

Professor Lucas added: "We have already collected a huge quantity of data and information here at IGES. For example, we have used spaceborne optical remote sensing data for mapping habitats across Wales, a massive job in its own right, and want to use these and also airborne data for ongoing monitoring.

"We have also been working with the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QDERM) to develop and implement methods for mapping forest biomass and growth stage in eastern Australia using Japan's radar satellites.

"All of these use vast amounts of remote sensing and other data.

"We now need to be able to process these effectively and efficiently to monitor changes in eco-systems and the environment in general

"The HPC will provide us with the computer capacity we need and allow us to produce multiple 'products' from a diverse range of datasets.

"Furthermore, the facility will also allow us to link with and work more effectively with other institutions across the globe and, of course, create better and more productive links with businesses here in Wales."


For more information contact: Professor Richard Lucas, IGES, Aberystwyth.