Prof. Martin Wooster

Professor of Earth Observation Science

Main Research Topics:

  • Satellite Earth observation
  • VIS and IR Spectroscopy (land surface and atmosphere)
  • Thermal remote sensing
  • Biomass Burning/Wildfires (measurement, modelling, characterisation)
  • Quantification of carbon, trace gas and aerosol emissions in smoke
  • UAV Applications


  • BSc (Bristol University) Physics [II.1]
  • MSc (University of London) Remote Sensing [Distinction]
  • PhD (Open University) Earth Science / Remote Sensing

Brief Detail:

Professor Martin Wooster’s research focuses on theoretical and applied Earth Observation science, including the linking of EO-derived information to environmental models. He is a PI in the NERC National Center for Earth Observation and satellite EO data is the primary tool, but NERC-supported ground-based and airborne methods such as VIS/NIR and LWIR spectroscopy and are also used, most commonly to develop, optimise and validate new methodologies and products. Much of his research utilises thermal remote sensing approaches, and has included the development of a number of operational ‘real-time’ EO   systems supporting wider science investigations.  His Google Scholar page is here.

His team at KCL have been instrumental in developing the operational Fire Radiative Power (FRP) products from the Meteosat Second Generation series of satellites, available free to all in real-time from the EUMETSAT Land Satellite Applications Facility (Land SAF). The D-Fire Sub-Project of the pre-operational European GMES Atmospheric Service uses these and other data to map temporal and spatial variations in global fire emissions for use in the EU FP7 project Monitoring Atmospheric Chemisty and Climate (MACC).  He is interested in improving current global and regional estimates of carbon, trace gas and aerosol emissions to the atmosphere from burning, including for science applications such as global atmospheric modelling and for policy-driven initiatives such as the UNFCC and REDD+.

Example Publications

WOOSTER, M. J. and Xu, W. (2012) Sentinel-3 SLSTR active fire detection and FRP product: Pre-launch algorithm development and performance evaluation using MODIS and ASTER datasets, Remote Sensing of Environment, 120, 236-254.

WOOSTER, M. J., Perry, G.L.W. and Zoumas, A. (2012) Fire, drought and El Niño relationships on Borneo (Southeast Asia) in the pre-MODIS era (1980–2000), Biogeosciences, 9, 317-340.

Blackett, M. WOOSTER, M. J. and Malamud, B.D. (2011) Exploring land surface temperature earthquake precursors: A focus on the Gujarat (India) earthquake of 2001, Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L15303, doi:10.1029/2011GL048282

Smith, T.E.L., WOOSTER, M. J., Tattaris, M. and Griffith, D.W.T. (2011) Absolute accuracy and sensitivity analysis of OP-FTIR retrievals of CO2, CH4 and CO over concentrations representative of “clean air” and “polluted plumes”, Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 4, 97-116, doi:10.5194/amt-4-97-2011.

WOOSTER, M. J., Freeborn, P. H., Archibald, S., Oppenheimer, C., Roberts, G. J., Smith, T. E. L., Govender, N., Burton, M., and Palumbo, I. (2011) Field determination of biomass burning emission ratios and factors via open-path FTIR spectroscopy and fire radiative power assessment: headfire, backfire and residual smouldering combustion in African savannahs. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, 11591-11615.

Blackett, M. and WOOSTER, M. J. (2011) Evaluation of SWIR-based methods for quantifying active volcano radiant emissions using NASA EOS-ASTER data, Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, 2, 51-78.

Amici, S., WOOSTER, M. J., Piscini, A. (2011) Multi-resolution spectral analysis of wildfire potassium emission signatures using laboratory, airborne and spaceborne remote sensing, Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 1811-1823.

Roberts, G., WOOSTER, M. J. Freeborn, P.H. and Xu, W. (2011) Integration of geostationary FRP and polar-orbiter burned area datasets for an enhanced biomass burning inventory. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 2047-2061.

Disney, M.I., P. Lewis, J. Gomez-Dans, D. Roy, WOOSTER, M. J., D. Lajas (2011) 3D radiative transfer modelling of fire impacts on a two-layer savanna system, Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 1866-1881.

Freeborn, P., WOOSTER, M. J. and Roberts, G. (2011) Addressing the spatiotemporal sampling design of MODIS to provide estimates of the fire radiative energy emitted from Africa, Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 2, 475-489.

Xu, W., WOOSTER, M.J., Roberts, G. and Freeborn, P.H. (2011) New GOES imager algorithms for cloud and active fire detection and fire radiative power assessment across North, South and Central America, Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 1876-1895 (download)

Freeborn, P.H., WOOSTER, M.J., Roberts, G., Malamud, B. and Xu, W. (2009)Development of a virtual active fire product for Africa through a synthesis of geostationary and polar orbiting satellite data, Remote Sensing of Environment, 113, 1700-1711 (download)

Smith, J. D. Kaduk, H. Balzter, WOOSTER, M.J.,, G. N. Mottram, T. J. Lynham, J. Studens, J. Curry, G. Hartley, and B. J. Stocks (2009) Soil respiration in a fire scar chronosequence of Canadian boreal jack pine forest, Biogeosciences Discuss., 6, 8725-8773

Roberts, G., WOOSTER, M.J., and Lagoudakis, E. (2009) Annual and diurnal African biomass burning temporal dynamics, Biogeosciences, 6, 849-866

Petropoulos, G., Carlson, T.N., WOOSTER, M.J., and Islam, S. (2009) A review of Ts/VI remote sensing based methods for the retrieval of land surface energy fluxes and soil surface moisture, Progress in Physical Geography, 33, 1–27

Brönnimann, S., Volken, E., Lehmann, K. WOOSTER, M. J., (2009) Biomass burning aerosols and climate – a 19th century perspective. – Meteorological Zeitschrift, 18, 351-355

Petropoulos, G., WOOSTER, M.J., Carlson, T.N., Kennedy, M.C. and Scholze, M. (2009) A global Bayesian sensitivity analysis of the 1d SimSphere soil–vegetation–atmospheric transfer (SVAT) model using Gaussian model emulation, Ecological Modelling, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2009.06.006

Petropoulos, G., Carlson, T. and WOOSTER, M. J., (2009) An overview of the use of the SimSphere Soil Vegetation Atmosphere Transfer (SVAT) model for the study of land-atmosphere interactions, Sensors, 9(6), 4286-4308; doi:10.3390/s90604286

Webley, P.W., Wooster, M.J., Strauch, W., Saballos, J.A., Dill, K., Stephenson, P., Stephenson, J., Escobar Wolf, R., Matias, O. (2008) Experiences from near-real-time satellite-based volcano monitoring in Central America: case studies at Fuego, Guatemala, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29, 22, 6621 – 6646, doi: 10.1080/01431160802168301

W. Xu, M.J. WOOSTER, Grimmond,C.S.B. (2008) Modelling of urban sensible heat flux at multiple spatial scales: A demonstration using airborne hyperspectral imagery of Shanghai and a temperature–emissivity separation approach, Remote Sensing of Environment, 112, 3493-3510

Ichoku, C., J. V. Martins, Y. J. Kaufman, M J. WOOSTER, P. H. Freeborn, W. M. Hao, S. Baker, C. A. Ryan, and B. L. Nordgren (2008), Laboratory investigation of fire radiative energy and smoke aerosol emissions, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, D14S09, doi:10.1029/2007JD009659

Roberts, G. and WOOSTER M.J. (2008) Fire detection and fire characterization over Africa using Meteosat SEVIRI, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 46, 1200-1218, doi: 10.1109TGRS.2008.915751

Ickoku, C., Giglio, L., WOOSTER, M.J. and Remner, L.A. (2008), Global characterization of biomass-burning patterns using satellite measurements of fire radiative energy, Remote Sensing of Environment, 112, 2950-2962.

Freeborn, P.H., Wooster, M.J., Hao, W.M., Ryan, C.A.,Nordgren, B.L. Baker, S.P. and Ichoku, C.(2008) Relationships between energy release, fuel mass loss, and trace gas and aerosol emissions during laboratory biomass fires, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 113, No. D1, D01102, 10.1029/2007JD008489

Roberts, G. and M.J. Wooster (2007) New Perspectives on African Biomass Burning Dynamics, EOS, 88, 369-270.

Smith, A.M.S., Drake, N., WOOSTER, M.J., Hudak, A. and Holden, Z.A. (2007).Production of Landsat ETM reference imagery of burned areas within Southern African savannahs: comparison of methods and application to MODIS. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 28, 2753-2775.

WOOSTER, M.J(2007) Annual Review of Remote Sensing: Sensors and Systems, Progress in Physical Geography, 31, 95-100

Roberts, G., WOOSTER, M.J., Perry, G.L.W., Drake, N., Rebelo, L-M., Dipotso, F. 2005. Retrieval of biomass combustion rates and totals from fire radiative power observations: application to southern Africa using geostationary SEVIRI Imagery. Journal of Geophysical Research 110, D21111: doi: 10.1029/2005JD006018.

WOOSTER, M.J., Roberts, G., Perry, G. and Kaufman, Y.J. 2005. Retrieval of biomass combustion rates and totals from fire radiative power observations: calibration relationships between biomass consumption and fire radiative energy release. Journal of Geophysical Research 110, D21111: doi: 10.1029/2005JD006318.

Kaneko, T. and WOOSTER, M.J. 2005. Satellite thermal analysis of the 1986 Izu-Oshima lava flows. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 148: 355-371.

Zhukov, B., Lorenz, E., Oertel, D., WOOSTER, M.J. and Roberts, G. 2005. Spaceborne detection and characterization of fires during the Bi-spectral Infrared Detection (BIRD) experimental small satellite mission 2001-2004. Remote Sensing of Environment 100: 29-51.

Smith, A.M.S. and WOOSTER, M.J. 2005. Remote classification of head and backfire types from MODIS fire radiative power observations, International Journal of Wildland Fire. 14: 249-254. (download)

Smith, A.M.S., Wooster, M.J., Drake, N.D., Perry, G.L.W. and Dipotso, F., Falkowski, M. and Hudak, A. T. 2005. Testing the potential of multi-spectral remote sensing for retrospectively estimating fire severity in African savanna environments, Remote Sensing of Environment 97: 92-115.

Smith, A.M.S., WOOSTER, M.J., Drake, N.D., Perry, G.L.W. and Dipotso, F. 2005.Fire in African savanna: testing the impact of incomplete combustion on pyrogenic emissions estimates. Ecological Applications 15: 1074–1082.

WOOSTER, M.J, Perry, G., Zhukov, B. and Oertel, D. 2004. Biomass Burning Emissions Inventories: Modelling and remote sensing of fire intensity and biomass combustion rates. In Spatial Modelling of the Terrestrial Environment, eds. R. Kelly, N. Drake and S. Barr, pp.175-196. Chichester: Wiley. (ISBN 0 470 843489).

WOOSTER, M..J and Zhang, Y.-H. 2004. Boreal Forest Fires Burn Less Intensely in Russia than in North America. Geophysical Research Letters 31: doi:10.1029/2004GL020805O.

Oppenheimer, C., McGonigle, A.J.S., Allard, P., WOOSTER, M.J. and Tsanev, V.I. 2004. Magma supply to an active lava lake. Geology 32: 509-512.

Drake, N., Symeonakis, E., Zhang, X., WOOSTER, M.J, Bryant, R. and Patterson, G. 2004. Near real-time modelling of regional scale soil erosion using AVHRR and Meteosat data: a tool for monitoring the impact of sediment yield on the biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika. In Spatial Modelling of the Terrestrial Environment, eds. R. Kelly, N. Drake and S. Barr, pp.160-174. Chichester: Wiley. (ISBN 0 470 843489).

Zhang, Y.-H., WOOSTER, M.J., Tutubalina, O. and Perry, G.L.W. 2003. Monthly burned area and forest fire carbon emission estimates for the Russian Federation from SPOT VGT. Remote Sensing of Environment 87: 1-15. (download)

WOOSTER, M.J., Zhukov, B. and Oertel, D. 2003. Fire radiative energy for quantitative study of biomass burning: Derivation from the BIRD experimental satellite and comparison to MODIS fire products. Remote Sensing of Environment 86: 83-107. (download)

Rowland, S.K., Harris, A.J.L., WOOSTER, M.J, Amelung, F., Garbeil, H., Mouginis-Mark, P.J. 2003. Volumetric characteristics of lava flows from interferometric radar and multispectral satellite data: the 1995 Fernandina and 1998 Cerra Azul eruptions in Western Galápagos. Bulletin of Volcanology 65: 311-330.

WOOSTER, M.J. 2002. Small-scale experimental testing of fire radiative energy for quantifying mass combusted in natural vegetation fires. Geophysical Research Letters, 2921: doi:10.1029/2002GL015487.

WOOSTER, M.J. and Strub, N. 2002., Study of the 1997 Borneo Fires: Quantitative analysis using Global Area Coverage GAC. satellite data, Global Biogeochemical Cycles 161: doi:10.1029/2000GB001357.

Smith, A.M.S., WOOSTER, M.J., Powell, A.K. and Usher, D. 2002., Texture based feature extraction: application to burn scar detection in EarthObservation Imagery. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 23: 1733-1739.

Kaneko, T., WOOSTER, M.J and Nakada, S. 2002. Exogenous and endogenous growth of the Unzen lava dome examined by satellite infrared image analysis. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 116: 151-160.

Kaneko, T., Yasuda, A., Ishimaru, T., Takagi, M., WOOSTER, M.J. and Kagiyama, T. 2002. Satellite hot spot monitoring of Japanese volcanoes: a prototype AVHRR-based system. Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling 13: 125-133.

Kaneko, T., Munekane, H., WOOSTER, M.J. and Kagiyama, T. 2002. Thermal infrared analysis of the eruptive activity of the Kompirayama and Nishiyama Craters: the 2000 eruption of Usu, Japan. Bulletin of Volcanological Society of Japan, 289-296.

WOOSTER, M.J. and Rothery, D.A. 2002. A review of volcano surveillance applications using the ATSR instrument series. Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling 13: 97-123. (download)

Kaneko, T., Munekane, H., WOOSTER, M.J. and T. Kagiyama 2002. Monitoring eruption plumes at Usu Volcano Japan. using thermal infrared camera imagery broadcast via the Internet. Advances in Environmental Monitoring and Modelling 13: 153-166.

Kaneko, T., WOOSTER, M.J. and Nakada, S. 2002. Simultaneous satellite infrared observation of thermal emissions from fumarole and dome growth areas on the Unzen lava dome: implications for remotely monitoring the state of magmatic gas release and accumulation. Bulletin of Volcanological Society of Japan 47: 449-459.

Rothery, D.A., Coltelli, M., Pirie, D., WOOSTER, M.J. and Wright, R. 2001. Documenting surface magmatic activity at Mount Etna using ATSR remote sensing. Bulletin of Volcanology 63: 387-397.

Kaneko, T., Sudo, N., WOOSTER, M.J., Geshi, N., Shimano, T., Nagai, M. and Nakada, S. 2001. RADARSAT determination of the outlines of the successively collapsing caldera at the Miyakejima 2000 eruption. Bulletin of the Volcanological Society of Japan 46: 205-209.

WOOSTER, M.J., Patterson, G., Loftie, R. and Sear, C. 2001. Derivation and validation of the seasonal thermal structure of Lake Malawi using multi-satellite AVHRR observations. International Journal of Remote Sensing 22: 2953-2972.

WOOSTER, M.J. 2001. Long-term infrared surveillance of Lascar Volcano: contrasting activity cycles and cooling pyroclastics. Geophysical Research Letters 28: 847-850. (download)

WOOSTER, M.J. and Kaneko, T. 2001. Testing the accuracy of solar reflected radiation corrections applied during satellite thermal analysis of active volcanoes. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 13381-13394.

WOOSTER, M.J., Kaneko, T., Nakada, S. and Shimizu, H. 2000. Discrimination of lava dome activity styles using satellite-derived thermal structures. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 102: 97-118.

Harris, A.J.L., Murray, J.B., Aries, S.E., Davies, M.A., Flynn, L.P., WOOSTER, M.J., Wright, R.W. and Rothery, D.A. 2000. Effusion rate trends at Etna and Krafla and their implications for eruptive mechanisms. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 102: 237-269.

Harris, A.J.L., Flynn, L.P., Dean, K., Pilger, E., WOOSTER, M.J., Okubo, C., Mouginis-Mark, P., Garbiel, H., Thornber, C., De la Cruz-Reyna, C. Rothery, D.A and Wright, R.W. 2000. Real-time Satellite Monitoring of Volcanic Hotspots. In Remote Sensing of Active Volcanism, eds. P.J. Mouginis-Mark, J.A. Crisp and J.H. Fink, pp.139-159. Washington DC: American Geophysical Union. (ISBN 0 87590 0992)

Kaneko, T. and WOOSTER, M.J. 1999. Landsat infrared analysis of fumarole activity at Unzen Volcano: time-series comparison with gas and magma fluxes. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 89: 57-64.

WOOSTER, M.J., Rothery, D.A., Sear, C.B. and Carlton, R.W. 1998. Monitoring the development of active lava domes using data from the ERS-1 Along Track Scanning Radiometer. Advances in Space Research 21: 501-505.Patterson, G.,

WOOSTER, M.J. and Sear, C.B. 1998. Satellite derived surface temperatures and the interpretation of 3 dimensional structure in Lake Malawi, Africa. Verhandlungen Internationale Vereinigung Limnologie 26: 252-255.

WOOSTER, M.J., Ceccato, P. and Flasse, S.P. 1998. Indonesian fires observed using AVHRR. International Journal of Remote Sensing 19: 383-386.

WOOSTER, M.J., Patterson, G. and Sear, C.B. 1998. The use of locally installed satellite data reception system for the monitoring of Lake Malawi surface temperature. Verhandlungen Internationale Vereinigung Limnologie 26: 277-280.

WOOSTER, M.J. and Kaneko, T. 1998. Satellite thermal analyses of lava dome effusion rates at Unzen Volcano, Japan. Journal of Geophysical Research 103: 20935-20947.

WOOSTER, M.J., Rothery, D.A. and Kaneko, T. 1998. Geometric considerations for the remote monitoring of volcanoes: studies of lava domes using ATSR and the implications for MODIS. International Journal of Remote Sensing 19: 2585-2591.

WOOSTER, M.J. and Rothery, D.A. 1997. Thermal monitoring of Lascar Volcano, Chile using infrared data from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer: a 1992-1995 time-series. Bulletin of Volcanology 58: 566-579. (download)

WOOSTER, M.J. and Rothery, D.A. 1997. Time-series analysis of effusive volcanic activity using the ERS Along Track Scanning Radiometer : the 1995 eruption of Fernandina Volcano, Galápagos Islands. Remote Sensing of Environment 62: 109-117.

WOOSTER, M.J., Wright, R., Blake, S. and Rothery, D.A. 1997. Cooling mechanisms and an approximate thermal budget for the 1991-1993 Mount Etna lava. Geophysical Research Letters 24: 3277-3280.

Rothery, D.A., Babbs, T.L., Harris, A.J.L. and WOOSTER, M.J. 1996. Colored lava flows on the Earth: a warning to Io volcanologists. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101: 26131-26136.

WOOSTER, M.J. 1996. In orbit calibration of the ATSR-1 1.6 µm channel using high resolution data from the JERS-1 Fuyo-1. Optical Sensor. International Journal of Remote Sensing 17: 1069-1074.

WOOSTER, M.J., Richards, T. and Kidwell, K.B. 1995. NOAA 11 AVHRR/2 – thermal channel calibration update. International Journal of Remote Sensing 16: 359-363.

Sear, C.B., Griggs, D.G., WOOSTER, M.J., Williams, J.B., Budgen, P. and Trigg, S.N. 1994. Enhancing African meteorological services with MDD. Meteorological Applications, 1: 99-101.

WOOSTER, M.J. Sear, C.B., Patterson, G. and Haigh, J. 1994. Tropical lake surface temperatures from locally received NOAA 11 AVHRR data – comparison with in situ measurements. International Journal of Remote Sensing 15: 183-189.

d’Souza, G., WOOSTER, M.J., Bonifacio, R. and Drake, N.A. 1996. Basic remote sensing principles and background. In Natural Vegetation as a Resource: A Regional Remote Sensing Workbook for East and Southern Africa, eds. J.M.O. Scurlock, M.J. Wooster and G. d’Souza, pp. 1-38. London: Commonwealth Science Council. (ISBN 0 85092 5461)

WOOSTER, M.J. 1996. NOAA AVHRR applications. In Natural Vegetation as a Resource: A Regional Remote Sensing Workbook for East and Southern Africa, eds. J.M.O. Scurlock, M.J. Wooster and G. d’Souza, pp. 59-92. London: Commonwealth Science Council. (ISBN 0 85092 5461)

  E-mail:    dTel: 0207 848 2577A


  Address: Department of Geography



  Office Location:
KKCL Main Entrance is on the Strand
  through a revolving door. Go into foyer and
  up to floor 7 in the lifts. Come out the lifts
  and turn right. Immediately on your right
  there is a doorway….go trough it and stop
  to admire the fantastic views of London…  
  ..then carry on around a corner for about
  10 m and my office is first on the right (its
  room K7.43 and my name is on the door).