PhD in Boundary ecotone vegetation mapping using satelliteand airborne platforms

University of Basel
Basel, Switzerland
Apr 03, 2021
May 01, 2021
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The research group Physical Geography and Environmental Change at the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel is welcoming applications for a PhD position. Boundary ecotones in cold and dry regions are subject to rapid change in vegetation cover due to natural and anthropogenic environmental change. The accurate mapping of such cover change is highly relevant for the appropriate assessment of the impacts on land use and biogeochemistry on local, regional and global scales. Satellite remote sensing is an essential tool to monitor land cover change, but faces several challenges in borderline ecotones, in particular in drylands. First, the often sparse vegetation causes a mixed spectral signal received by sensors operating at great altitude, such as satellites. In addtion, the pulsed reaction of vegetation, in particular annuals, to the rainfall events is often missed by satellites passing over the land in regular, but comparatively long intervals. Airborne platorms offer the possibility to overcome these two shortcomings, but cover only small areas at a time. Combining the information gathered by satellite and airborne systems could provide a solution to these problems, i.e. through calibrating satellite data using airborne imagery.

Your position
A good balance between resolution and the size of the area captured by airborne sensors is critcal for an effectve combination of information with satellite. The aim of this PhD project is therefore the identfication of the suitable combinations of different airborne sensors platorms with common satellite data for mapping land cover change in borderline ecotones in alpine and dryland environments. The PhD in Boundary ecotone vegetation mapping using satellite and airborne platorms will involve the acquisition of imagery using airborne sensors, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and piloted aircraft. The latter also contains the generation of imagery of a quality to be expected from aircraft operating in the stratosphere. Such simulation aims at assessing and developing tools flown onboard a new generation of piloted aircraft and automated systems operating at low cost, but long duration at high altitudes. The representation of vegetation cover in all imagery will be compared and tools for a combination that enables the best assessment of land cover change will be developed.

Your profile
Applicants should have a strong interest in remote sensing and environmental change, hold a master's degree in geo- or environmental sciences, ideally with a thesis in image analysis. Applicants must have a very good command of English.

We offer you
The PhD programme at the University of Basel is a four-year program. PhD-students are expected to support teaching and research activities of the Physical Geography and Environmental Change Research Group.

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