Information for Prospective Students

Why study Earth Observation Science?

What is Earth Observation Science?

Earth Observation Science (EOS) is the study of the global Earth land-ocean-atmosphere system through observations. The principal tools for such studies are measurements from space since these provide the coverage of the planet that is necessary to capture the behaviour of the entire coupled system. In addition, surface observations, and measurements from aircraft, balloons and sounding rockets provide valuable contributors to what are now termed "integrated, global observing systems". Coupled with models, the EOS measurement suites provide powerful tools for research into the factors controlling and changing the Earth system in which we live.

How can Earth Observations Science be studied?

Earth Observation Science can be studied through undergraduate degrees (Physics and Astronomy; Chemistry; Geography) and as a postgraduate. There are many opportunities to work in Earth Observation Science. If you have a first degree in Physics, Chemistry, Geography or Environmental Science, or if you have a mathematical, statistical or computational background, you may find vacancies of interest on our employment page.

If you are at school or university, then you can obtain work experience or undertake projects with the EOS group.


Why is Earth Observation Science interesting?

Earth Observation Science provides fascinating insights into the behaviour of the world in which we live, utilising quantitative, physical devices to observe the land-ocean-atmosphere system in detail. The phenomena observed are of tremendous interest both for the beauty and power of the system, and for the practical impact this system has on our everyday lives. The drivers for Earth Observation Science can be divided into:

  1. Natural system behaviour: e.g. meteorology, weather and storms; volcanoes; earthquakes; El Nino; river flows; tides.
  2. Human impacts: e.g. the stratospheric ozone hole, atmospheric pollution from industry and biomass burning, desertification, global warming and climate change.
  3. Industrial and Commercial services: e.g. weather forecasting, agricultural monitoring, resource exploration, planning, hazard protection.

Since Earth Observation Science requires observations globally, remote sensing from space is a very important aspect and studies of Earth Observation Science offer the opportunity to investigate satellite systems and their payloads. The NASA and ESA are the leading space agencies which promote EOS satellite systems and some exciting projects can be found on our group research page

What skills are gained from studing Earth Observation Science?

Earth Observation Science is a multi-disciplinary field since the land, oceans and atmosphere systems can all be observed from space or from other platforms of the global observing system. EOS studies therefore provide expertise in Physics, Chemistry, Geography and a number of other disciplines including Geology and Meteorology.

Remote sensing from space is a key component of EOS studies. Studies of Earth Observation Science therefore often involve a strong component of physical instrument design including optics, interaction of radiation with matter (physical and chemical processes), electronics, and satellite orbits.

The analysis of data from Earth Observation missions is a sophisticated process and require mathematics, statistical skills, and an understanding of the physical/chemical/biological state of the system under observation. Systems such as Geographical Information Systems are of increasing importance.

Models are as important as observations and studies of Earth Observation Science involve detailed investigations of the mechanisms controlling the Earth system. Areas of study include fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, chemical process, biological processes, geographical systems. A good knowledge of mathematics underlies these studies.

Finally, EOS provides generic skills arising from the design and utilisation of EOS systems. These skills include information techonology and scientific programming, project management, commmunication and public information.

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EOS News
  • EOS congratulates Robert Parker on the award of an ESA Living Planet Fellowship in exploring the global carbon cycle through observations of greenhouse gas atmospheric variability.
  • EOS is pleased to announce that the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation is now led from the University of Leicester under the Directorship of Professor John Remedios.
  • EOS congratulates Joshua Vande Hey on the award of a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship.

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Mars Science Laboratory Blog

Find out the latest news about Mars Science Laboratory in Professor John Bridges' Mars Science Laboratory Blog.