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Dr Fleur Visser

Lecturer in Physical Geography

Institute of Science & the Environment

Contact Details


tel: 01905 855236

Since doing my undergraduate studies in Physical Geography at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands I have been aware that going out into the field is essential for physical geographers when trying to understand the landscape that surrounds us. During my PhD at the Australian National University I took a field-based approach to assess soil erosion from sugarcane paddocks on the floodplains of the Herbert River in north-eastern Australia. Based on direct measurements of soil erosion and deposition I developed a sediment budget that identified the dominant sources of sediment in this tropical agricultural environment.

Along the way I realized that field research has its limitations and, while working at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, I developed an additional interest in Remote Sensing. Observing the landscape from a distance allows you to analyse the processes that occur more efficiently. I continued to develop my expertise in this area while taking up a lectureship at the University of Worcester in 2006. My research projects have involved a range of image data types and image analysis techniques, including hyperspectral aerial images and object-based image analysis (OBIA).

In a current research project I am investigating the possibilities of applying remote sensing techniques for detecting and mapping submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in shallow river systems, mostly UK chalk streams. Continuing development of remote sensing sensors and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), in combination with object-based image analysis techniques will soon enable the application of remote sensing in these environments that were previously beyond the reach of the technology due to their limited size and high biodiversity. I am also a member of the University’s River Science Research Group.

While spending a lot more time in front of computers for data analysis, I certainly haven’t lost touch with the field. Applying remote sensing to new environments still requires considerable field data collection. Without a good understanding of what happens on the ground most of these techniques remain useless. In my teaching I try to bring across this essential combination of field-based knowledge and remote sensing as a tool to analyse and understand the environment.


PhD (Australian National University, 2003)
PGCert (University of Worcester, 2008)
MSc Physical Geography (Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1997)

Teaching Interests

Teaching Interests

Current Teaching

  • Applied GIS and Remote Sensing (GEOG3019)
  • Geographical Information Systems (GEOG2005)
  • River Processes (GEOG2013)
  • Research Methods (GEOG2004)
  • Earth Systems and Processes (GEOG1011)
  • Mapping the Environment (GEOG1002)
  • Field Investigations (GEOG1003)

PhD Supervision - current

Rebecca Collins - The evolution of form roughness and its influence on river bank erosion and channel change. Co-supervisor with Director of studies (DOS) Dr Ian Maddock (UW).

PhD Supervision - former

Amy Woodget (completion 2015) - High resolution remote sensing and object-based image analysis for river habitat detection. Director of studies with co-supervisor Dr Ian Maddock (UW) and external supervisor Dr Patrice Carbonneau (University of Durham).

Caroline Wallis (completion 2014) - Defining the spatial and temporal dynamics of hydraulic river habitats. Co-supervisor with DOS Dr Ian Maddock (UW) and external supervisor Professor Mike Acreman (CEH Wallingford).

Martin Wilkes (completion 2014) - Evaluating the microscale dynamics of hydraulic river habitats. Co-supervisor with DOS Dr Ian Maddock (UW) and external supervisor, Professor Mike Acreman (CEH Wallingford).

Research Interests

Research Interests

Research Interests

Remote sensing of submerged aquatic vegetation in chalk steams
Application of field spectroscopy for submerged vegetation/algae detection
Application of Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA) for vegetation mapping
Hyperspectral remote sensing
Causes of pluvial flooding
Soil erosion and sediment transport
Sediment budgets
Floodplain geomorphology and hydrology


Member of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society (RSPSoc)
Member of the British Hydrological Society (BHS)
Member of Geo Informatie Nederland (GIN)



Papers in peer reviewed journals

Woodget A.S., Visser F., Maddock I.P. and Carbonneau P.E. (2016) The Accuracy and Reliability of Traditional Surface Flow Type Mapping: Is It Time for A New Method of Characterising Physical River Habitat? Rivers Research and Applications doi:10.1002/rra.3047 (

Visser F., Buis K., Verschoren, V and Schoelynck J. (2016) Very high resolution remote sensing and Object Based Image Analysis for monitoring of submerged aquatic vegetation in rivers. Hydrobiologia doi:10.1007/s10750-016-2928-y (

Visser F., Buis K., Verschoren V. and Meire P. (2015) Depth estimation of submerged aquatic vegetation in clear water streams using low-altitude optical remote sensing. Sensors 15: 25287-25312. doi:10.3390/s151025287 (

Woodget A. S., Carbonneau P.E., Visser F. and Maddock I.P. (2015) Quantifying submerged fluvial topography using hyperspatial resolution UAS imagery and structure from motion photogrammetry. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 40(1): 47-64. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3613 (

Visser F. (2014) Rapid mapping of urban development from historic Ordnance Survey maps: An application for pluvial flood risk in Worcester. Journal of Maps 10(2): 276-288. DOI: 10.1080/17445647.2014.893847 (

Visser F., Wallis C. and Sinnott A. (2013) Optical remote sensing of submerged aquatic vegetation: opportunities for shallow clear water streams. Limnologica 43(5): 388-389. DOI: 10.1016/j.limno.2013.05.005 (

Wallis C., Maddock I.P., Visser F. & Acreman M. (2012) A framework for evaluating the spatial configuration and temporal dynamics of hydraulic patches. River Research and Applications. 28: 585-593 (

Visser F., Roth C.H., Wasson R.J. and Govers G. (2007) A sediment budget for a cultivated floodplain in tropical North Queensland, Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 32(10): 1475-1490 (

Papers in edited books

Wilkes M., Maddock I.P., Visser F. and Acreman M. (2013) Incorporating hydrodynamics into ecohydraulics: Incorporating hydrodynamics into ecohydraulics: the role of turbulence in the swimming performance and habitat selection of stream-dwelling fish. In: Maddock, I.P. Harby, A., Kemp P. & Wood P. (Eds.) Ecohydraulics: An Integrated Approach, Wiley. (

Visser F. (2008) The day roads became rivers: A GIS-based assessment of flash floods in Worcester. In: Samuels, P. Huntington, S. Allsop, W. Harrop, J. (eds.) Flood Risk Management - Research and Practice, Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp. 1617-1621.

Visser F. (2006) Erosion and deposition rates on ‘headlands’ in low-gradient sugarcane land in Australia. In: Owens P.N. and Collins A.J. (eds.), Soil Erosion and Sediment Redistribution in River Catchments: Measurement, Modelling and Management. CAB International, Wallingford, pp. 254-263 (

Visser F., Roth C.H., Wasson R.J. and Prosser I.P. (2002) Quantifying sediment sources in low-lying sugarcane land: a sediment budget approach. International Association of Hydrological Sciences Publication no. 276, Proceedings of the Alice Springs Symposium, pp. 169-175 (

Papers in conference proceedings

Woodget, A.S., Visser, F., Maddock, I.P. and Carbonneau, P. (2016) Quantifying fluvial substrate size using hyperspatial resolution UAS imagery and SfM-photogrammetry. Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics, 7-12 February 2016, Melbourne, Australia.

Visser F. and Woodget A. (2012) Object-based image analysis of very high resolution image data for detection and mapping of submerged aquatic vegetation. Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics, Vienna. (

Visser F. and Hill R.A. (2011) Application of hyperspectral image data for species detection and biomass estimation of submerged macrophytes in UK chalk streams. Proceedings of the 7th EARSeL Workshop on Imaging Spectroscopy. Edinburgh, April 11-13 2011. URL: (

Visser F. and C. Wallis (2010) Object-based analysis and multispectral low-altitude remote sensing for low-cost mapping of chalk steam macrophytes. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Vol. XXXVIII-4/C7

Visser F. and Smolar-ˇvanut N. (2009) Detecting Submerged Macrophytes in a UK Chalk Stream Using Field Spectroscopy. In: Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society, 8-11 September 2009, Leicester, pp. 541-547 (

Other publications

Visser, F (2013) A sediment budget for an area of sugarcane cultivation on the Herbert River floodplain, NE Australia. Key Concepts in Geomorphology Vignette (

Visser, F. (2008) An assessment of the historic development of Worcester in relation to pluvial and fluvial flooding. University of Worcester Research Focus One-Day Conference, Landscape and Heritage, November 2008.

Maddock, Ian and Visser, Fleur and Hill, Graham and Holliday, Richard and Wynn, Duncan (2007) Assessing the Viability of Complex Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) with a Spatially Distributed Sensor Array for Imaging of River Bed Morphology: a Proof of Concept (Study). Project Report. University of Worcester (

Visser, F., Govers, G., Van Oost, K., Cerdan, O., Quine, T. and Vandekerckhove, L. (2005) Analysis of the crop productivity - soil erosion relationship using hyperspectral data. K.U.Leuven, Final Report HYMAP2004.

F. Visser (2003) Sediment budget for cane land on the Lower Herbert River floodplain, North Queensland, Australia. PhD thesis, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, 257 pp. (