Saturday, 30 September 2017

Serendipity

I've been in Kourou in French Guiana this week, at a workshop on Remote sensing for tropical biodiversity mapping and management across scales, organised by Jérôme Chave from CNRS, Toulouse, and Grégoire Vincent, IRD, Montpellier. The thematic workshop is funded as part of the CEBA Centre for Study of Biodiversity in Amazonia programme here in French Guiana, and the idea is to bring together early-career scientists, interested in these topics and selected based on a proposal to work on a specific application, with a cross-disciplinary 'faculty' including David Coomes (Cambridge), Maria Joao Ferreira dos Santos (Uni Utrecht), Jean-Baptiste Féret (IRSTEA) and Sassan Saatchi (JPL). The aim is that by bringing together a relatively small group, and addressing specific, focused topics at an almost 1-1 level, rapid progress can be made by sharing tools and methods, adapting/trying new code and methods, as well as for thinking about some of these areas in new ways. From what I've seen, the workshop has been extremely productive and successful - ideas mulled and tried out, papers proposed, data munged, connections made.....

A fuzzy view of afternoon discussions in the lab. As seen by the ZEB-REVO in double quick time.


Paracou field station, from lidar from above.


It's been a fantastic week - a real privilege to be invited and to catch up with some old faces, and meet many more new, particularly the incredibly bright and enthusiastic participants. It's certainly provided food for thought for me, even if that isn't the main aim :-) I've seen new work on demographics, different ways of considering diversity & species richness, the wide range of conceptions of forest 'structure' (there's so many ways to look at it!), acoustic mapping, wood density and growth rates, overstory, understory, lidar, hyperspectral, modelling and on and on. I can't wait to follow some of this up. The one downside? During a day visit to see the work at the long term Amazonian tropical field station and Guyaflux tower at Paracou, I managed to pick up some very unwanted and irritating passengers in the form of Trombiculidae, or chiggers. Aaargh.

Lidar view of the Guyaflux tower at Paracou.

As a serendipitous bonus, we were lucky enough to get a last-minute tour of the Ariane spaceport just up the road (the main industry around here), the day before a scheduled Ariane launch! This had been delayed from a few weeks ago, apparently just for our benefit, on a balmy Friday evening. Sitting on the beach with the sun going down behind us and watching a spectacular launch was a fitting end to a great week. Props to Jérôme, Grégroire and Jessica (the tireless organiser) for sorting that out. The only slight hiccup was the small earthquake yesterday morning which surprised us all - no harm done though.

The gang - at the space centre.

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