Review Meeting at Tartu Observatory

At certain points during a Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Action, the project consortium meets for a review meeting. Together with the project officer of the European Commission and with an external reviewer they review the progress of the project. For the MULTIPLY project, on the 28th and 29th of Augustus, one of these review meetings took place at the Tartu Observatory in Estonia.

“It was a really nice and constructive meeting where we could present the current state of the project to the reviewers,” says Dr. Lea Hallik, team member of MULTIPLY and researcher at the University of Tartu. “As we are now finalizing the tests of the beta version of the platform, they were happy with our progress.”

Different types of users
“An interesting discussion was about how the platform should be accessible for two types of users. On the one hand, the more technical programmer that wants to create and improve products using satellite data. On the other hand, the earth observations consultants who are less technical and want to access only the end products. This is challenging and something we will have to work on during the next months.”

There was also time for some social activities like a nice tour along the visitor center and the space technology laboratory. “The location was great. It is in a beautiful green setting, 20 kilometers away from the city Tartu and its light pollution.”

MULTIPLY consortium members at the Tartu Observatory

MULTIPLY consortium members at the Tartu Observatory

From local to global
Hallik and her colleagues from Tartu University, study what kind of plant traits can be measured with satellites. Therefore, she collected data in the field on traits of both evergreen and deciduous trees during the past two summers. With this knowledge, she can validate the measurements from satellites. “I like that we, as a small research group, can contribute with local field measurements to such a big project.”

“In Estonia, we have six towers where you can reach the highest leaves of the trees. There we sample and measure leaf traits like reflectance, transmittance, pigment content, dry mass area, and water content. Because natural vegetation is very complex, especially in a forest, with multiple species and different vegetational layers, satellite data can also be challenging,” Hallik explains. “It is important to understand these time series of forest leaves because an important aim of MULTIPLY is to create time series and make seasonal changes visible.”


Samling at Järvselja forest, Estonia

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Observation tower at Järvselja forest, Estonia

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Fieldwork at Järvselja forest, Estonia

Fieldwork in Ghana

Amie Corbin is a PhD student at img_20180607_094410Leiden University who develops vegetation priors for the platform. From June to Augustus she will be in the Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve in Ghana to collect data. You can follow her adventures through her website.



Night of Arts & Science

Team members from Leiden University participated in the “Night of Arts & Science”, on the 16th of September in Leiden. Together with other staff members from the CML, Joris Timmermans, Leon Hauser, and Amie Corbin created “Viewing Beyond”. Using remote sensing technology in several interactive exhibits, they opened the visitors their eyes and let them view beyond the capabilities of the human eye.

Team member Esther Philips: ‘Considering that for most people remote sensing is probably quite unknown, we agreed that it would be really interesting to bring this emerging technology to the masses.’

Using cardboard VR glasses, people could experience how animals see the world. With their left eye, they saw as a human and with their right eye as another animal species, like a bee, a shark, or an eagle. The visitors explored a world that is usually hidden from human eyes.21587253_1489282267822441_7866941079516472688_o

With a living experiment, visitors observed how remote sensing technology works. Using spectrometers, the reflected light from different types of plants was measured and broadcasted live on a screen. The visitors learned how different plants and different conditions, like varying moisture content or a nitrogen deficiency, yield different outputs.

To discover the various possibilities of remote sensing research, some examples were shown in a slideshow on a screen. For example, how thermal imagery was used to map hurricane Irma and night observations are used to monitor the world light pollution. This last subject was further explained in the final part of the experience.

To make people aware of light pollution, people could see the light pollution on a special nighttime globe. Also, visitors could ‘join the dark side’ and contribute to citizen science projects on light pollution. One of these was created for the festival. Visitors could download a lux meter app and search for the darkest spot in the botanical gardens. By handing in their data they could win a price.


With Viewing Beyond visitors viewed the world beyond their eyes and shared and discussed their experiences and views on research with scientists. This expanded the knowledge of both the visitors as the participating scientists, hopefully leading to a brighter future with darker nights.

In the news:

Fieldcampaigns Land Cover and Soil Types

A comprehensive field campaign is conducted by the Ludwig-Maximilians-UniversitP1000160ät München (LMU) to collect in situ information for the validation of satellite-based retrievals of land surface parameters. These measurements will be used within MULTIPLY to validate the retrieval results of the MULTIPLY platform.
“Our campaign will last for the entire vegetation period in 2017 and collects data from a variety of different land cover types and different soil conditions”, says MULTIPLY team member Prof.dr. Alexander Loew.


During the LMU campaign essential characteristics of vegetation and plant conditions are collected, like e.g. information about vegetation biomass and water content as well as the soil moisture content. In addition, ground-based measurements of the surface radiation fluxes and spectral properties of the plants are collected. The LMU team goes into the field on a regular basis during COPERNICUS SENTINEL satellite overpasses.


‘Crop Intelligence System’

ADAS, Assimila and UCL are using the thinking from MULTIPLY to develop the concept of a ‘Crop Intelligence System’ that could provide information to growers on crop growth and performance. The team won an Innovate UK feasibility study under the Satellites for Agri-Food programme. The project started in July 2016 and runs for twelve months. It aims to examine both the technical and commercial feasibility of generating ‘canopy curves’ on a field by field basis for all fields within a region, or country, allowing comparisons of crop performance between fields, farms, years, soils and management practices.

By integrating with soil and weather datasets it should be possible to provide a dashboard for crop growth. Giving information on light and water resources available and captured in each field. This would be an invaluable tool in the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) which seeks to understand variation in crop yields in the UK and across Europe. The MULTIPLY and Crop Intelligence System projects have been presented to farmers and industry participants at YEN meetings in November 2016 and spring 2017.


ISSI Workshop

Peter van Bodegom and Phil Lewis joined a workshop in Bern (Switzerland) organized by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) titled “Exploring the Earth’s Ecosystems on a Global Scale: Requirements, Capabilities and Directions in Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy.”

The workshop aimed to connect the world’s leading scientists working on hyperspectral data for interpretation of the land surface with international scientists involved in the scientific preparation of several future hyperspectral satellite missions. Amongst others, MULTIPLY was presented as a critical tool to evaluate the added value of hyperspectral data over multispectral Sentinels data. It is a way to integrate information from multiple satellites and an important step forward for understanding land surface and system Earth.


Participants of the ISSI workshop


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 687320