Geodesy and Earth Observation

BGS Research

Geodesy and Earth observation

BGS Geodesy and Earth Observation is a world-class capability comprising scientists and instrumentation that lead the way in UK and international research.

Our team of specialists develop and use a wide range of innovative Earth Observation (EO) techniques to characterise and monitor Earth processes that impact lives and livelihoods in the UK and globally. Our EO sensors are located on the ground, in the air, and on satellites, helping us to collect and interpret data from crowded cities to the remotest places on Earth. We lead applied research projects and work in partnerships in the UK and globally.

Our research includes the following themes:

We are a member of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL). We have world-class facilities with state-of-the-art processing systems and expertise including:

  • interferometic synthetic aperture radar (GAMMA, ISCE, Mintpy, StaMPS and SNAP)
  • digital photogrammetry (ERDAS LPS, BAE Socet and GXP)
  • structure from motion (Agisoft Metashape and Pix4D)
  • image processing (ENVI, ERDAS, Spectral Mapper)
  • GIS (ESRI ArcGIS and QGIS)
  • 3D visualisation (Geovisionary)
  • rotary and fixed-wing drones with fully qualified pilots


The BGS has a long history of developing EO systems that help us to understand the Earth and other planets: we have had a dedicated remote sensing group since 1949. Since 2014, the BGS and the UK Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET) jointly deliver the NERC National Capability in Earth Observation for understanding volcanic and tectonic processes and hazards. BGS also operates the NERC Space Geodesy Facility at Herstmonceux, making a range of satellite laser ranging, GNSS and absolute gravity observations and manages the British Isles continuous GNSS Facility (BIGF), which is hosted at the University of Nottingham.

Need more information?

Please contact the head of geodesy and Earth observation

Find out more about our research

Yasur volcano - Anna Hicks


Our scientists lead research projects and work in partnerships around the world to improve our understanding of volcanic processes, hazards and risks.

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Drone imagery of Anak Krakatau

Understanding eruptive activity and related hazards at Krakatau volcano

The BGS is involved in research to understand eruptive processes and implications for tsunami initiation at Krakatau.

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Our projects

Geodesy and Earth observation disaster response

Disaster response

BGS Geodesy and Earth Observation provides satellite imagery and expertise that is used to determine the effects of natural disaster events.

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BGS drone research

Drone research

BGS use drones to gain a perspective of the Earth that is simply not possible with instruments that are based on the ground.

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Geomatic surveys

Ground-based and near-Earth geomatic surveys

The BGS has pioneered the use of ground-based (terrestrial) techniques for a variety of geoscientific applications since 1999.

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Hyperspectral research at BGS

Hyperspectral research

The BGS has extensive experience acquiring and processing hyperspectral data for a range of geological applications.

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Geodesy and earth observation InSAR

InSAR research

BGS Geodesy and Earth Observation scientists have a long history of working with InSAR data.

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METEOR stakeholders


METEOR is a three-year project led by the BGS aiming to apply Earth observation to improve understanding of risk exposure, hazards and vulnerability.

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Bandung, Indonesia density

Seismic cities

Identifying communities that are particularly vulnerable to future earthquake hazards.

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Thermal image research

Thermal research

Remote sensing of land surface temperature is a useful method of extracting information about the surface for geoenvironmental studies.

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