Dr Suvarna Punalekar

Dr Suvarna Punalekar

Remote Sensing / Data Scientist

Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Contact Details


I work as Post Doctoral Researcher on Ser Cymru funded Living Wales project in the Geography and Earth Science Department. The project aims to develop a continuous land cover monitoring system by combining a wide range of remote sensing based inputs. The system can potentially be deployed anywhere in the world and offers huge advantage over a conventional classification algorithms in terms of consistency, reproducibility and ability to deal with variety of changes in the land cover. I am particularly interested in testing already available remote sensing based environmental variable products (such as Leaf Area Index, Canopy Cover and Height) for monitoring changes and further implement tested algorithms on the fine resolution datasets such as Cubesat, Rapideye, Sentinel 2 for achieving improved temporal frequency as well as spatial resolution.


I am mainly responsible for reviewing and testing already available remote sensing products for wide range of environmental variables. The vegetation variables we are interested in involve Leaf Area Index, Canopy Cover and Height, Biomass, Phenology, crop types and so on. I would also be dealing with variables that characterise other land surfaces such as snow cover fraction, water seasonality, urban areas and soil moisture. 

I am involved in verification of these products in Wales using ground data as well as maps derived using drones. Once the algorithms are tested, I would then  implement them using fine resolution satellite data (spatial resolution ~ 10m or below). 

I am also responsible for maintaining the project website and actively involved in organising events to educate people about the project.


Lucas, RM, German, S, Metternicht, G, Schmidt, RK, Owers, CJ, Prober, SM, Richards, AE, Tetreault-Campbell, S, Williams, KJ, Mueller, N, Tissott, B, Chua, SMT, Cowood, A, Hills, T, Gunawardana, D, McIntyre, A, Chognard, S, Hurford, C, Planque, C, Punalekar, S, Clewley, D, Sonnenschein, R, Murray, NJ, Manakos, I, Blonda, P, Owers, K, Roxburgh, S, Kay, H, Bunting, P & Horton, C 2022, 'A globally relevant change taxonomy and evidence-based change framework for land monitoring', Global Change Biology, vol. 28, no. 21, pp. 6293-6317. 10.1111/gcb.16346
Owers, CJ, Lucas, RM, Clewley, D, Planque, C, Punalekar, S, Tissott, B, Chua, SMT, Bunting, P, Mueller, N & Metternicht, G 2021, 'Living Earth: Implementing national standardised land cover classification systems for Earth Observation in support of sustainable development', Big Earth Data, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 368-390. 10.1080/20964471.2021.1948179
Planque, C, Lucas, R, Punalekar, S, Chognard, S, Hurford, C, Owers, C, Horton, C, Guest, P, King, S, Williams, S & Bunting, P 2021, 'National crop mapping using sentinel-1 time series: A knowledge-based descriptive algorithm', Remote Sensing, vol. 13, no. 5, 846. 10.3390/rs13050846
Planque, C, Punalekar, S, Lucas, R, Chognard, S, Owers, CJ, Clewley, D, Bunting, P, Sykes, H & Horton, C 2020, Living Wales: Automatic and routine environmental monitoring using multi-source earth observation data. in K Schulz, U Michel & KG Nikolakopoulos (eds), Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications XI., 115340C, Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, vol. 11534, SPIE, Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications XI 2020, Virtual, Online, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 21 Sept 2020. 10.1117/12.2573763
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