Dr Jay Gao

BE (Wuhan Tech), MS (Toronto), PhD (Georgia)

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Associate Professor


Different from my colleagues, I received my first degree not in Geography, not even in Arts or Science - it was in photogrammetric engineering from Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping. I did not start my education in Geography until I enrolled in the Master’s degree programme at the University of Toronto. Upon graduation from the University of Georgia in the U.S. in 1992, I joined the School of Environment as a lecturer initially and later as a senior lecturer.

Research | Current

Over my academic career, I have carried out quite a number of research projects on remote sensing, GIS, GPS and their integrated applications to resources management and environmental monitoring.

These studies can be generalised into two major themes:

  1. Quantitative remote sensing: In this sub-field my research has demonstrated the possibility of retrieving physical parameters of ground features such as water quality indicators and grassland density from satellite data quantitatively. Some of these detected parameters were then linked to environmental variables to explore the impact of climate change on the natural environment.
  2. Integration of geo-computational methods: The emergence of new geo-computational technologies such as GPS has eased the acquisition of certain spatial data. Accompanying this new technology arises the issue of how to integrate it innovatively with other existing methods to maximize its potential. My research explored the feasibility and potential of combining GIS, GPS and remote sensing, and how the integrated technologies can benefit monitoring of the environment.  

My recent research has focused on mapping of land covers from satellite imagery using spatial information. In particular, my research has explored how accuracy might be improved through incorporation of spatial adjacency and spatial connection as well as additional spatial knowledge in image classification.

Teaching | Current

My teaching has been in the area of GIS, spatial analysis, remote sensing, and digital image processing.

The courses that I have been involved in teaching include Remote Sensing of the Environment, Digital Image Processing, Geographic Data Analysis, and Spatial Analysis and GeoComputation.

Postgraduate supervision

Vincent Wang, PhD

Suyadi Suyadi, PhD (co-supervising)

Tingting Xu, PhD

Xuying Ma, PhD

Shi Yan, PhD

Daniel Marc dela Torre, PhD

Kumari Kshama Awasthi, MSc

Sesa  Wiguna, MSc

Patrick Edards, Honors

Kate Emerson. Honors



Associate Editor of ISPRS Journal of Photogrametry and Remote Sensing

Member of Postgraduate Committee

Areas of expertise

Geographic Information System, Remote Sensing, Spatial Data Analysis, and Resources and Environmental Modelling

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Wang, V., & Gao, J. (2019). Importance of structural and spectral parameters in modelling the aboveground carbon stock of urban vegetation. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 78, 93-101. 10.1016/j.jag.2019.01.017
  • Xu, T., Coco, G., & Gao, J. (2019). Extraction of urban built-up areas from nighttime lights using artificial neural network. GEOCARTO INTERNATIONAL10.1080/10106049.2018.1559887
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tingting Xu, Giovanni Coco
  • Xu, T., Gao, J., & Coco, G. (2019). Simulation of urban expansion via integrating artificial neural network with Markov chain–cellular automata. International Journal of Geographical Information Science10.1080/13658816.2019.1600701
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tingting Xu, Giovanni Coco
  • Suyadi, Gao, J., Lundquist, C. J., & Schwendenmann, L. (2018). Characterizing landscape patterns in changing mangrove ecosystems at high , latitudes using spatial metrics. ESTUARINE COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE, 215, 1-10. 10.1016/j.ecss.2018.10.005
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist, Luitgard Schwendenmann
  • Li, X., Gao, J., Zhang, J., & Sun, H. (2018). Natural and anthropogenic influences on the spatiotemporal change of degraded meadows in southern Qinghai Province, West China: 1976–2015. Applied Geography, 97, 176-183. 10.1016/j.apgeog.2018.06.011
  • Li, X., Gao, J., & Zhang, J. (2018). A topographic perspective on the distribution of degraded meadows and their changes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, West China. Land Degradation & Development, 29 (6), 1574-1582. 10.1002/ldr.2952
  • Wang, F., Gao, J., & Zha, Y. (2018). Hyperspectral sensing of heavy metals in soil and vegetation: Feasibility and challenges. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 136, 73-84. 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2017.12.003
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44596
  • Suyadi, Gao, J., Lundquist, C. J., & Schwendenmann, L. (2018). Sources of uncertainty in mapping temperate mangroves and their minimization using innovative methods. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 39 (1), 17-36. 10.1080/01431161.2017.1378455
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40867
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Luitgard Schwendenmann, Carolyn Lundquist

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 5, Room 531A
New Zealand