2011 - Professor in Dept. of Geography, Swansea University
2009 - 2011 Reader in Dept. of Geography, Swansea University
2000 - 2009 Lecturer/Senior lecturer in Dept. of Geography, Swansea University
1995 - 2000 Higher Scientific Officer, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
1992 - 1995 Research Fellow at NERC Environmental Systems Science Centre (ESSC)

Research interests
My interest is the use of global satellite remote sensing to improve understanding of climate change, forest resources and in particular the role of land/atmosphere interactions. I have developed a widely used model of light transport for the optical domain (FLIGHT), based on Monte Carlo solution of radiative transfer (North, IEEE 1996). This is used to model vegetation photosynthesis and light use efficiency, to relate satellite-measured spectra to land surface properties, and has recently been extended to model light detection and ranging (LiDAR) (North et al., 2010, Morton et al., 2014). The forcing by atmospheric aerosols is currently a key uncertainty in climate change models, and in accurate measurement of the Earth's reflectance. I have developed a method for simultaneous estimation of atmospheric aerosol loading and surface reflectance, applicable to multi-angle imaging sensors (North, 2002, Bevan et al., 2012). The method has now been operationalised for the European Space Agency instruments ATSR-2 and AATSR under the ESA Climate CHange Initiative, and is under development for application to the GMES Sentinel-3 Mission, to be launched in 2015.

Areas of Expertise

  • Satellite remote sensing of land and atmosphere
  • Modelling of land surface interation with the atmosphere


  1. & Assessing the effects of forest health on sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence using the FluorFLIGHT 3-D radiative transfer model to account for forest structure. Remote Sensing of Environment 193, 165-179.
  2. & Particulate emissions from large North American wildfires estimated using a new top-down method. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 17(10), 6423-6438.
  3. & Estimating forest canopy parameters from satellite waveform LiDAR by inversion of the FLIGHT three-dimensional radiative transfer model. Remote Sensing of Environment 188, 177-189.
  4. & Synergistic use of MERIS and AATSR as a proxy for estimating Land Surface Temperature from Sentinel-3 data. Remote Sensing of Environment 179, 149-161.
  5. et. al. Development, Production and Evaluation of Aerosol Climate Data Records from European Satellite Observations (Aerosol_cci). Remote Sensing 8(5), 421

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  • GEG103 Global environmental change: The human impact

    This unit is an introduction to global environmental change and provides a wide range of examples how humans change there environment. The module covers the following aspects of global change: Tropical deforestation, desertification, sea-level rise, and climate change. We will explore the evidence provided for each of these aspects of global change and discuss their projected impacts. The aims of this unit are: 1) to consider past human impact in prehistoric and historical times; 2) to take selected human impacts on environments today and investigate the intentional and unintentional human modifications to the environment; 3) to review the likelihood of future human-induced global environmental change and the predicted effects; 4) to introduce students to recent methods in geography used to monitor and model aspects of global environmental change.

  • GEG236 The Earth from Space: Monitoring Global Environmental Change

    This module introduces the growing role of Earth Observation in Geography, in the context of monitoring global environmental change. Emphasis will be given to practical use of airborne and satellite imagery in a range of geographical applications. In addition to a grounding in the principles of remote sensing, the course will offer in-depth understanding of the use of satellite observations in the study of global change in particular of deforestation and desertification. Practical exercises will teach image processing skills and familiarity with the range of information sources available for remotely sensed imagery.

  • GEG268 Dissertation Preparation

    The module prepares students for their independent research dissertation through dissertation fairs, lectures and a series of tutorials focusing upon the formulation and construction of a research proposal. The module also includes three lectures which explore career opportunities for Geography graduates and skills to enhance graduate employability.

  • GEG331 Dissertation Report: Geography

    The dissertation is an original, substantive and independent research project in an aspect of Geography. It is typically based on approximately 20 - 25 days of primary research and several weeks of analysis and write-up. The end result must be less than 10,000 words of text. The dissertation offers you the chance to follow your personal interests and to demonstrate your capabilities as a Geographer. During the course of your dissertation you will be supported by a student-led discussion group and a staff supervisor, and you will also provide constructive criticism to fellow students undertaking related research projects, learning from their research problems and subsequent solutions. This support and supervision is delivered through the 'Dissertation Support' module, which is a co-requisite.

  • GEG332 Dissertation Support: Geography

    This module provides structured, student-led peer-group support and academic staff group supervision for students undertaking the 30-credit 'Dissertation Report: Geography' module. This support and supervision is assessed through the submission of a PowerPoint Poster in TB1 and the submission in TB2 of an individually composed, critical and reflective log of the 5 dissertation peer-group meetings and the 4 group supervisory meetings (with a verified record of attendance at meetings). Working within a supervised Student Peer Group, you will also have the opportunity to provide constructive criticism to fellow students undertaking related research projects, learning from their research problems and subsequent solutions. This module complements the 'Dissertation Report: Geography' module, which is a co-requisite.

  • GEG333 Geographical Research Frontiers

    This module provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their competence as a Geographer by undertaking a critical analysis of a wide variety of literature-based sources in order to develop a cogent, substantial, and persuasive argument. While the Dissertation in Geography normally focuses on the design and execution of an evidenced-based research project that assesses the capacity of students to undertake effective data analysis and interpretation, the purpose of this module is to assess the extent to which students are capable of engaging with the academic literature at the frontier of a particular part of Geography. Students select from a wide range of research frontiers in Human and Physical Geography that have been identified by the academic staff within the Department. Given that this module emphasizes student-centred learning, none of the frontiers will have been covered in other modules, although in many cases modules will have taken students up to some of these frontiers. However, to orientate students and provide them with suitable points of departure and way-stations, there will be a brief introduction to each frontier and a short list of pivotal references disseminated via Blackboard. (Note: The topic selected by you must not overlap with the subject of your Dissertation. If there is any doubt about potential overlap, this must be discussed with your Dissertation Support Group supervisor and agreed in writing.)

  • GEGM04 Modelling Earth Systems

    An understanding of the environment is increasingly important in many areas, e.g. industry, agriculture, conservation, health, science, and planning. This module introduces computational modelling in a geographical context. It aims to develop thinking about environmental issues within a modelling framework, and to develop practical skills in developing and using computational models, and in computer data analysis and visualisation. Examples are focused on solving practical scientific problems in environmental dynamics and climate change, focussing on modelling the terrestrial carbon and hydrological cycles.


  • Remote Sensing to Assess and Monitor Forest Condition (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Jacqueline Rosette