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Postgraduate research project

Against Climate Change (DACC): improving the estimates of forest fire smoke emissions

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The goal of the DACC project is to improve the monitoring of wildfires and the estimate of their emissions using uncrewed aerial systems (UAS), with a focus on the Amazon region.

Uncontrolled wildfires destroy vegetation and wildlife habitats, produce CO2 and other harmful emissions in vast quantities, and are a hazard to human health. In the Amazon and several other regions, anthropogenic activities and climate change are increasing the scale, intensity and frequency of fire activity, fuelling a harmful feedback loop.

Satellite observations are vital for monitoring wildfires and estimating their impact in terms of fuel consumption and smoke emissions. However, satellite systems are constrained by cloud cover and their spatial and temporal resolutions: geostationary satellites acquire imagery every 10-15 minutes but have a resolution of 2-4 km; polar-orbit satellites have higher spatial resolution (200-1000 m) but provide data every 6-12 hours.

Consequently, small/low intensity and/or short-lived fires, as well as fires burning below clouds are not detected and thereby underestimating the extent of fire activity. Moreover, emission measurements currently rely on coarse resolution biomass (fuel load) estimates in fire affected areas and, combined, these effects result in relatively large uncertainty of regional smoke emissions.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Dr Mario Ferraro (University of Southampton)
  • Professor Blair Thornton (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Gareth Roberts (University of Southampton)