Public engagement project
‘GROW Observatory’ by Mel Woods centres around a design framework and operational information system for climate action at scale.
European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
The research investigated how open and collaborative modes of harnessing data can support citizen-based Earth observation and climate action at a continental scale.
As Work Package Lead Missions and Action, and final year Co-ordinator, Woods led research design and management for a consortium of 18 partners, including University of Edinburgh, Met Office, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, and a network of thousands of citizen scientists. ‘GROW’ was funded by Horizon 2020 (€5.1M) to explore the potential of Citizens’ Observatories (COs), community-based environmental monitoring and information systems.
The outcome of the research was the first continental-scale CO to monitor a key parameter for science continuously over an extended period at an unmatched spatial density, improving Earth observation capabilities at the European level. Using the ‘GROW’ framework, participants gathered data on soil conditions and actioned pro-environmental change, validating high-resolution satellites (Sentinel-1) and products.
Twenty four ‘GROW’ communities in 13 countries created a network of 6,502 in-situ soil sensors, and a dataset of 516M soil data entries. University of Dundee Educators have trained 20,000 food growers in resilient methods, Internet of Things and data awareness through four massive open access online courses on Future learn.
As a result of ‘GROW’, missions farmers in the Canary Islands reduced their use of water for irrigation by 30%. ‘GROW’ communities and data services have been sustained after funding ended.
‘GROW’ was named by the European Commission as one of five projects that represent the state of the art in Earth Observation in Europe (2019). It was awarded the Land and Soil Management Award (2019). The research has been further disseminated through 9 papers and 13 posters, 20 conference presentations.