Dr. H. Peter White

Environmental Physicist

Application of remote sensing (hyperspectral) to support monitoring the environment, for forests, mineral exploration and environmental remediation.

Natural Resources Canada

Current research and/or projects

Application of hyperspectral remote sensing to natural resource exploration and to environmental monitoring and remediation.

Research and/or project statements

With advancing development hyperspectral remote sensing technology for Earth Observations, high spectral resolution imagery (also known as imaging spectrometry or hyperspectral remote sensing) is becoming more readily available for application to such interests as natural resource exploration and environmental monitoring. By analysing specific spectral features, remote sensing can now move towards increase the accuracy of characterizing the land surface, through radiative transfer (light scattering) models of vegetation canopies, to spectral detection for surface geochemistry. The increase in spectral resolution provides an information rich source of data, which requires an increased level of required calibration precision to get to that information. I actively work to advance our capacity to benefit from hyperspectral remote sensing, working to develop methods to improve data quality and to extract quantitative information products supporting the monitoring and management of our natural resources.

Professional activities / interests

Hyperspectral Remote Sensing in Action

  • Imaging spectroscopy, or hyperspectral imaging, is one of the most advanced optical Earth observation technologies. It has applications supporting better natural resource management (geology and mineral resources, forestry, agriculture, and water) and in environmental monitoring (mine site remediation).

Calibration and Validation of Hyperspectral Imagery

  • An important aspect to advancing hyperspectral applications development is to provide detailed ancillary support for data quality assurance and characterization. User confidence and assimilation of information extraction technologies using hyperspectral remote sensing depends on providing standards and protocols for the acquisition of supporting field data, and in defining quality assurance reporting of the derived information.

The Imaging Spectrometer Data Analysis System (ISDAS)

  • At the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, we have developed one of the first systems to process imaging spectrometry data (hyperspectral data). ISDAS was created to fill the void left by existing image analysis systems, that were designed for broadband optical channels, which only roughly represent colour characteristics of ground materials. This research tool places Canada as a world leader in this field, and many of it’s innovations have already been adopted by Canadian industry.

BioGeoPhysical Mapping from high spectral resolution remote sensing

  • Hyperspectral remote sensing is required to increase the accuracy of characterizing the land surface, through radiative transfer (light scattering) models of vegatation canopies, to spectral detection of surface geochemistry.

Site Remediation Monitoring

  • Sites contaminated with radioactive waste, mine tailings, or other material can have severe impacts on both ecosystem integrity and human health. Environmental monitoring as part of remediation management benefits with imaging spectrometer data (hyperspectral imagery) for characterising environmentally contaminated sites and providing supporting techniques to monitor their remediation. Examples of such sites include mine tailing sites and related waste disposal sites, and the remediation and rehabilitation of these sites.

Education and awards


Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Physics/Astronomy, York University.

B.Sc. in Honours Physics, Saint Mary's Univ.

Awards and Certificates:

2009 ESS Team Recognition Award, “Joint collaboration in airborne hyperspectral acquisition with AAFC and NRC.”

2009 ESS Team Recognition Award, “Nunavut Hyperspectral Survey Team.”

2009 Managing Project Time Certificate, Canada School of Public Service.

2008 Leading Scientific Teams Certificate, Canada School of Public Service.

2001 Enhancement and Classification of Landsat Images for Mapping Canada Training Course Certificate.

2000 Canadian Remote Sensing Society - Best Ph.D. Thesis Award.

1995 York Astronomy Club Certificate of Appreciation.

1986 NSERC Undergraduate Research Award.

1984 Forum for Young Canadians Certificate.

1983 Canadian Legion Leadership Certificate.

1983 Lieutenant-Governor Award (Nova Scotia).

Key publications

My recent publications are available on GEOSCAN at the NRCan Library web site.

My resume is also available. 


Canada Centre for Remote Sensing,Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observations,Earth Scienced Sector (ESS),NRCan.

Adjunct Professor, Saint Mary's University.

Chair of the ad hoc Imaging Spectrometry Science Team.

Member of the Canadian Remote Sensing Society and Past-Chair of the Ottawa Branch.

Member of the IEEE, Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society.

Member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.