School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

Dr. Caroline Nichol



School of GeoSciences
Crew Building
University of Edinburgh
West Mains Road
Edinburgh EH9 3JN
Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 131 650 7729
Fax: +44 131 662 0478

Current position and research

I started my Lectureship in the School of GeoSciences in 2008 and am investigating the use of multi scale remote sensing (ground, airborne and satellite) for detecting seasonal changes in photosynthesis, light use efficiency and stress.

My research to date has principally been in developing the use of tower based and airborne  hyperspectral data for detecting seasonal physiological changes in contrasting vegetation types and have worked at a number of sites in Canada, Brazil, Siberia, Africa, USA, UK, Finland and Italy. My previous employers include the University of Edinburgh, Columbia University, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre (through the Planetary Biology Program), USA. Full details of my previous posts are detailed below

Research vision

My research vision is to use optical and LiDAR remote sensing to understand canopy-level (particularly forests) physiology and biosphere-atmosphere processes. I am building an internationally competitive group, while continuing to lead the remote sensing capabilities within Airborne GeoSciences. My research addresses crucial scientific questions whilst employing and developing existing and new technologies to improve the way we measure the terrestrial carbon cycle. My research advances the science of understanding how forest and other terrestrial ecosystems respond to climate change and how these ecosystems act as sinks for CO2. Towards this end I have generated grant income (both as PI and co-I) from NERC, NERC/Centre for Earth observation Instrumentation, The Royal Society of London and EPSRC. As an integral part of my work, I will continue to build my multi-disciplinary group focusing specifically on integrating the fields of remote sensing, physiology and micrometeorology

Academic posts to date

  • Aug 2012 - present
    Senior Lecturer in Remote Sensing, University of Edinburgh
  • Aug 2008 - July 2012
    Lecturer in Remote Sensing, University of Edinburgh
  • Aug 2005-2008

    NERC Fellowship, University of Edinburgh
  • May 2002 - Aug 2005
    Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of GeoSciences/Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics, University of Edinburgh
  • Nov 2001 - May 2002
    Visiting Scientist, Columbia University, Biosphere-2, Box 689, Oracle, AZ, USA
  • Oct 2000 - Oct 2001
    Postdoctoral Research Associate, Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • June 1998 - Sept 1998
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, Biospheric Sciences Division, Greenbelt, MD
  • October 1997 - 2000
    PhD. University of Edinburgh "Remote sensing of photosynthetic light use efficiency of boreal forest"
  • Oct 1993 - July 1997
    BSc Hons University of Edinburgh, Ecological Science:
    First Class
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy

    The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland's National Academy, has selected the first members of its new "RSE Young Academy of Scotland". Caroline Nichol from the School of GeoSciences was selected, along with ~60 others from a range of disciplines within Scotland, and from a pool of 336 applications. The period of membership is 3 years, with extension for a further 3. The RSE has established this Young Academy as a unique opportunity to bring together some of the most able and innovative young academics, entrepreneurs, artists and professionals in Scotland. Every year a new round of applications will be encouraged bringing in a new cohort of members. The aim of the initiative is to stimulate creative ideas and collaborative working that will help address some of the key challenges facing Scotland and contribute to solving some of the global challenges of the 21st Century

    Current research grants

    1. NERC CEOI 75,000. Demonstrating the quantitative recovery of structural and biochemical parameters from forest canopies using a new hyperspectral LiDAR (HSL). Joint grant between Heriot Watt University (Wallace, BUller: Physics and Engineering) and the School of GeoSciences (Nichol). Start Sept 2011 - May 2012.

    2. EPSRC Discipline Hopping Grant 150,000 Developing new imaging algorithms to support the development of a novel LiDAR system. Nichol Co-I. Start Feb 2010- July 2012

    3. EU COST Action European Cooperation in Science and Technology: 400,000 EURO ES0903: “Spectral sampling tools for vegetation Biophysical Parameters and Flux measurements in Europe” Feb 2010-2014. Nichol, Vice Chair and Management Committee member

    4. NERC Standard Grant 519,000 Remote sensing of solar induced fluorescence and the Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI) for carbon uptake in two contrasting forest ecosystems Sept 2008- Jan 2014. Nichol PI

    Previous research grants

    4. NERC NCEO 200,000 Mission Concept for spaceborne multi-spectral canopy lidar (SpeCL). March 2010-2011 Nichol Co-I

    5. Royal Society International Outgoing Visit. Funding C.Nichol to work at the Australian National University (School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Canberra in 2008 (6000) Nichol PI

    6. NERC/DTI UK (2007) Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation. Multispectral (Forest) Canopy LiDAR: Total 125,000 with 85,000 to Edinburgh. July 2007 Nichol co-I

    7. NERC Fellowship Award. Remote Sensing Micrometeorology and Modelling 147, 411 (pre-FEC). May 2005 Nichol PI

    8. Packhard Foundation (Columbia University) for rain forest research $20,000. Oct 2002 – Oct 2003 Nichol PI

    9. NERC “Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics” Total 1.2M 260, 350 to Edinburgh (named researcher and co-writer). Jan 2002 – Dec 2006


    May 2008. Patent filed on behalf of Inventors Woodhouse, Nichol, Malthus & Patenaude at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh for a new remote sensing system: MSCL ‘Multi Spectral Canopy Lidar

    Professional services, working groups and committees

    I am on the NERC ARSF (Airborne Research and Survey Facility) steering committee (from July 2010)

    I am on the EARSel SIG IS (Imaging spectroscopy) 2011 Organising Committee

    I sat on the Royal Society of London committee for Frontiers of Science, for 18 months. During this time I organised and Chaired a session (Climate change affects species distribution) at the trilateral UK-China-Netherlands Frontiers of Science meeting which was held in Beijing, China in 2009

    I am on the review board for “EUFAR” (European Framework for Airborne Research). EUFAR is an Infrastructure Cooperation Network of the European Commission HPRI programme under FP5/FP6. EUFAR aims at coordinating the operations of the European fleet of instrumented aircraft in the field of environmental research in the atmospheric, marine, terrestrial and Earth sciences

    I am a reviewer for a number of Remote Sensing journals