Dr Paul Alton
Senior Lecturer
Telephone: (01792) 295069
Room: Accademic Ofice - 021
Ground Floor
Margam Building
Singleton Campus

My PhD and initial postdoctoral research were in astrophysics with an emphasis on the propagation of optical radiation and the emission of thermal radiation. When I came to Swansea in 2004, I developed a new approach to carbon modelling, simulating photosynthesis in tree canopies through the transfer of both diffuse and direct sunlight.

My current research and teaching interests focus on carbon, water and energy exchange between the land-surface and the atmosphere. I seek to understand fully these processes, particularly over vegetation, and how they might change under a future climate. I use both complex and simple Land-Surface Models to simulate these processes, calibrated and constrained by ground-based (eddy covariance FLUXNET) observations and satellite remote-sensing (e.g. MODIS).

Areas of expertise:

1. Environmental modelling and radiative transfer in vegetation canopies
2. Global simulations of carbon, water and energy exchange between the landsurface and the atmosphere
3. Parameter retrieval of biophysical properties using optimisation methods
4. Assimilation of eddy covariance and satellite remote sensing into simple and complex Land-Surface Models.


  1. Alton, P. Decadal trends in photosynthetic capacity and leaf area index inferred from satellite remote sensing for global vegetation types Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 250-251 361 375
  2. Alton, P. Reconciling simulations of seasonal carbon flux and soil water with observations using tap roots and hydraulic redistribution: A multi-biome FLUXNET study Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 198-199 309 319
  3. Alton, P. The sensitivity of models of gross primary productivity to meteorological and leaf area forcing: A comparison between a Penman–Monteith ecophysiological approach and the MODIS Light-Use Efficiency algorithm Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 218-219 11 24
  4. Alton, P. Retrieval of seasonal Rubisco-limited photosynthetic capacity at global FLUXNET sites from hyperspectral satellite remote sensing: Impact on carbon modelling Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 232 74 88
  5. Alton, P. From site-level to global simulation: Reconciling carbon, water and energy fluxes over different spatial scales using a process-based ecophysiological land-surface model Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 176 111 124

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  • GE-006 An Introduction to Data Visualisation.

    Information is everywhere, from our phones, our televisions, our computers, our newspapers. To create powerful and useful data visualization we need to use skills from art, statistics, mathematics and geography. Over time the use of data visualization to explain the world around us has developed at a rapid pace, as the tools needed to produce data graphics have become more readily available and in response to society's increasing interest in communicating information effectively, accurately and quickly. This module explores the purpose, requirements and methods of data visualization and explores examples relevant to the natural and geographical sciences. The module will also introduce the concepts of Geographical Information Systems and their use as a data visualization tool.

  • GEGM10 Satellite Remote Sensing

    This module explains the use of remote sensing as a tool for gathering and analyzing information about human resources and the natural environment. It is appropriate for students who would find it valuable to understand how information about human activity and environmental change is retrieved from images of the Earth acquired by satelite or aircraft instruments. Emphasis is placed on the role of ongoing missions in providing operational information for science and society. Lecture material is supported by hands-on experience exploring satellite images in a computer environment.