Dr. Gaurav Singh

Natural hazard is a natural phenomenon that might have a negative effect on humans, animals and environment. – Dr. Gaurav Singh

Interview with Dr. Gaurav Singh

Dr. Gaurav Singh

Technical Specialist (Ph.D. – Remote Sensing and GIS)
Shillong, Meghalaya

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey with us?

My education journey started from Kendriya Vidyalaya Bulandshahr where I completed my schooling, then did Bachelor & Masters in Geology from Aligarh. After Graduating, I joined Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), ISRO, Dehradun, India for Post Graduate Diploma in Remote Sensing and GIS Application for Natural Resources Management with Specialization in Geosciences, after that I completed Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, UK, India.

I worked as a Teaching Assistant during my Ph.D. tenure for National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). After submitting my Ph.D. thesis I got an opportunity to work with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), New Delhi in a research project funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST) entitled “Centre of Excellence for Climate Change and Vector Borne Diseases”. Major goal of the project was the Determination of climate driven ecological risk for vector borne diseases and Development of early warning systems for outbreak of malaria.

Currently, I am working as a Technical Specialist/Head of Remote Sensing & GIS Component for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted project “Community Based Forest Management and Livelihood improvement in Meghalaya” (MegLIFE) under Government of Meghalaya.  

The objective of this project is to restore and conserve natural resources within selected villages by sustainable forest management, livelihood improvement, and institutional strengthening, thereby contributing to conservation of environment, biodiversity, and uplifting of socio-economic conditions of people in the State of Meghalaya, India.

In this project where RS and GIS is the main component, I am handling this component for all 22 Blocks, Block Project Management Unit (BPMU) 12 Districts, District Project Management Unit (DPMU) and 1 State Project Management Unit (SPMU) of Meghalaya State.

My major roles for the project are:

  • Provide GIS training with GIS/RS unit operators periodically at demand.
  • Assess available data.
  • Give technical advice to the Project Director and Assistant Project Director for project activities.
  • Plan and design outsourcing works for mapping agencies.
  • Standardize the quality controls of outputs.
  • Provide technical support and assist in site boundary survey and ground verification.
  • Coordinate and monitor the activities of District-Level GIS operators.
  • Conduct monitoring the assets and infrastructure created in the Project using GIS/RS.
  • Lead the GIS and MIS team at SPMU level.

In addition to my main role as Technical Specialist (RS & GIS), I am also a part and am working for the Procurement Component as well where I am involved in the procurements of UAV Drones, GIS equipments like Work Stations, GPS, DGPS, Software (ArcGIS/ArcGIS Pro, Erdas,   etc) and other office equipments for the Project through various process and principles of Procurement like Government e Marketplace (GeM), eProcurement System of Meghalaya (Meghalaya Tender), Request for Quote (RFQ)/Invitation for Bid (IFB), Request for proposal (RFP) and Invitation for Expression of Interest (EOI).

Apart from these activities, I am also member of different committees for the Department where I support & give technical advice/training to the officers of other departments like Forest Department, Agriculture Department etc.

Q2. What is the use of Remote Sensing in the field of Geomorphology?

Remote sensing, from aerial photography to satellite imagery, constitutes a powerful tool for improving accuracy and precision of extensive large-scale geomorphological surveys, making it possible to investigate previously untreatable ideas.

Remote sensing techniques provide us different data product and implementing GIS techniques makes it extremely effective. Hence, these two techniques are complementary to each other. By using GIS, several maps like geomorphological, geological, structural, drainage etc. can be easily prepared for morphometric and morphotectonic evaluation of any region. GIS technology is digital, spatial and generic.

The GIS technique has the unique capability by means of overlaying and superimposing different layers of images in a single map and therefore, it becomes easy to analyze the impact of one parameter on another. For example, river morphology and drainage pattern are very sensitive to neo-tectonic activities, and both can be easily extracted by remote sensing and GIS approach.

         Dr. Gaurav Singh at field work in Sub Himalayan Region, India

Q3. How many key things we can predict with the help of Remote Sensing in Natural Hazards?

Natural hazard is a natural phenomenon that might have a negative effect on humans, animals and environment. It can be Geophysical: a hazard originating from solid earth (such as earthquakes, landslides and volcanic activity and Hydrological: caused by the occurrence, movement and distribution of water on earth (such as floods and avalanches).

Remote sensing can be used to assist risk reduction initiatives through identification of hazard zones associated with landslides, flood plains, coastal inundation and erosion, and active faults.

If people in potentially at-risk locations personalize the risk, they are more likely to take readiness actions such as making emergency plans for contact and evacuation or assembling emergency kits. Remote sensing images of similar communities experiencing hazards, or the progress of a hazard such as a fire front, can assist with this personalization process.

Q4. How do you see the geospatial technology to support towards mitigating the climate change scenarios?

Geospatial technology has proved to be an important tool to examine the changes and to suggest adaptation and mitigation, locally, regionally and globally. Mining large amounts of data developed from remote sensing sensors along with inter operability through latest computing and software techniques makes today the frontier zones of earth system more accessible than in the past.

This will make heterogeneous data more available to modern research with cyber tools and models with ubiquitous involvement of information technology. The software tools in geo-informatics help scientists to access vast data sets in cloud computing platforms.

Geospatial Technologies and Climate Change describe various approaches from different countries on how to use geospatial technologies to help solving climate change issues. It also details how different geospatial technologies can be used to help with climate monitoring and modeling, how to work with them and what to be careful about.

Q5. What did attract you towards Remote Sensing/GIS domain for career?

I found Remote Sensing and GIS very interesting during my M.Sc. Though my subject was Geology, I used to read articles/books, watch videos related to Planets, Satellites, Solar System, Stars and Galaxies. Space agencies like ISRO, NASA and ESA attract to me a lot during those days. In every sector Remote sensing and GIS technology is being used thus this subject, have a very vast opportunity.

I remember I was giving viva in the final year of M.Sc. and external expert who came from a very famous University to take viva asked me the last question: What is your next goal after completing M.Sc.? I replied: Sir I want to join IIRS, ISRO Dehradun for my further studies and want to work in Remote Sensing and GIS field only. He laughed and asked: “Do you know what IIRS is? Only few people get chance to join that world famous Organization”. I answered politely: Sir, I know about IIRS that’s why I want to join the Organization. Later, I took that as a means of motivation and I studied very hard. Then, I got selected in IIRS & also qualified UGC-CSIR JRF examination which helped me to join IIT Roorkee.

Q6. What was your Thesis topic in Ph.D.? Please share some brief about it?

Title of my Thesis was “Geospatial Technologies in Evaluating Morphotectonic Features in Sub-Himalayan Region, India”.

I researched on geological, tectonic and seismic set up of Sub-Himalayan Region where I have identified various morphotectonic features associated with the fault/thrust using Geospatial Technologies. I analyzed the drainage network in this region and its relation to tectonics using different techniques and tools. I have used variety of satellite data and software for my research work. I have also worked on Satellite Earth Station (IITR-SES) Sponsored by DST (Govt. of India) of Department of Earth Sciences IIT Roorkee for downloading, archiving and handling National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data during my Ph.D.

I have published several research articles in reputed national and international journals also attended and presented my research work in many national and international conferences/workshops including Himalaya-Karakorum-Tibet Workshop (HKT–2016), Aussois, France and American Geophysical Union (AGU 2018) Washington D.C. USA.

Dr. Gaurav Singh at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Washington D.C. USA

Q7. What are your research interests? How do you update yourself with the latest technology?

My major areas of interest are applications of Remote Sensing and GIS, in active tectonics, ground deformation, geomorphology, earthquake studies, water resource and Natural Hazards. My approach as Scientist/Geologist is to apply my knowledge of Remote Sensing and GIS in the field of Earth Sciences. My research has provided the unique opportunity to work in the field of Tectonics, Hydrology, Natural Hazards (earthquakes, landslides and floods) in arid/semi-arid regions, and monitoring in challenging environments of and Himalayan Mountains. I have worked with various Scientists/Researchers during my research. My research began in 2011 from Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, ISRO, Dehradun where I completed project entitled “Understanding The Impact of Regional Climate Condition and Local Features On Glacial Behavior Around Satopanth and Bhagirath Glacier in Alaknanda Valley, Uttarakhand, India”.  It included of satellite-based behavior identification and mapping of Glaciers at higher spatial resolution, followed by preparation and analysis of its time-series for prediction of movement and velocity.

To update myself with the latest technology I have subscribed my tech related channels. I keep myself connected to social networking sites, the first platform for any technological advancement news and also keep surfing on the latest technology on the internet. I am having membership of several organizations related to RS/GIS and Earth Sciences like American Geophysical Union (AGU), Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS), Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU), International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) etc.

Dr. Gaurav Singh with American Geophysical Union

Q8. Why we are far behind in Research and Development section comparing to developed countries?

Yes, we are far behind in Research and Development compare to developed countries and the reason is difference between working environment, working culture/style and facilities.

Image Credit: Dr. Gaurav Singh

Read more about Dr. Gaurav Singh @

Linkedin- https://www.linkedin.com/in/gaurav2k2ali/

ResearchGate- https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gaurav-Singh-18

Google Scholar- https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&authuser=1&user=ii2kenkAAAAJ

Orchid ID- https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1109-3938

Twitter-  https://twitter.com/gaurav2k2ali