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Grassland Degradation Detection and Assessment in China by Remote Sensing


Key facts

Type of research degree
Mastership by Research (including MA by research, MSc by Research, MSc (Eng) by research)
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Tuesday 3 January 2023
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Source of funding
External organisation
Dr Alan Grainger
Additional supervisors
Professor Jon Lovett
School of Geography
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Desertification - the degradation of drylands caused by human activities catalysed by climatic variation - is a major global problem. Some 5,169 ha.106 in the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid zones &ndash; 40% of world land surface area &ndash; are susceptible to it, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) coordinates efforts to tackle it. Yet there is no reliable estimate of its actual global extent and rate of change. Subjective estimates of the area of at least moderately desertified land prepared for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) vary from 4,002 ha.106 in the 1970s to 608 ha.106 in the 1980s in UNEP&rsquo;s World Atlas of Desertification. A 2008 estimate of 771 ha.106 uses a proxy variable of declining biomass growth, based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index derived from low (8 km) resolution satellite images, but biomass growth drops for other reasons, e.g. lack of rainfall, and soil erosion varies over areas as small as 0.1 ha. The Third Edition of the World Atlas of Desertification does not include any map of desertification at all. Shortages of empirical data constrain the work of the UNCCD and implementation of the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target in the Sustainable Development Goals. So there is an urgent need to devise new methods for measuring desertification using satellite sensors.<br /> <br /> This project will focus on devising new remote sensing methods for monitoring the degradation of grasslands, which account for 94% of all degraded drylands. It will study grasslands in China, which cover 42% of national land area, and take advantage of data collected by both Chinese and European Space Agency (ESA) satellites. The project is supported by the DRAGON 5 Programme of ESA and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The student will spend up to 6 months in Beijing working with our Chinese partner.<br /> <br /> Aims<br /> 1. Devise new remote sensing methods for monitoring the degradation of grasslands.<br /> 2. Use these methods to produce a map of grassland degradation in China.<br />

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is INSERT PROJECT TITLE HERE as well as&nbsp;NAME OF SUPERVISOR AS LINK TO PROFILE&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif">This project will provide UK tuition fees, a tax free stipend at the UK research council rate, and a research training and support grant for 1.5 years.</span></span></p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact Dr Alan Grainger by emailing<br /> &nbsp;</p>