Past projects

Observing water availability in Switzerland


The project started in fall 2015 and aimed at assessing water availability across ecosystems by integrating hydrological modeling and remote sensing of dynamic vegetation processes. It was led by:

  • Maria Staudinger, Hydrology and Climate (H2K)
  • Alexander Damm, Remote Sensing Laboratories (RSL)
  • Rogier de Jong, Remote Sensing Laboratories (RSL)


Topology in Geography - an Interdisciplinary Exploration


The InnoPool project on topology explored the ways topology is interpreted in different geographic subfields. In addition, the project aimed at exploring the possibility of integrating these interpretations into a framework that enables cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Martin Tomko, Katharina Pelzelmayer, Timothy Raeymaekers, Elisabeth Militz

Topology in Geography


Uncertainty in decision making in a changing climate

uncertainty  workshop

Uncertainty is an unavoidable component of decision making, with implications for all fields of climate research – from projections of future climate change, to assessments of regional impacts and vulnerabilities, to adaptation policy making. During the workshop organized by the InnoPool project on March 21-22 2013, nine speakers from academia, industry and government introduced the 50 participants to key aspects on the topic ranging from uncertainties in climate model scenarios to managing uncertainties in development agencies.

Addor, N., Ewen, T., Johnson, L., Çöltekin, A., Derungs, C., & Muccione, V. (2015):
From products to processes: Academic events to foster interdisciplinary and iterative dialogue in a changing climate. Earth's Future, article

Critical GIS and the production of geographic knowledge


This InnoPool project aims at bringing together people from different groups at GIUZ through reading & discussion groups, a workshop and colloquia. All events are open for GIUZ staff and MSc students. Participants will look into how the practice of GIScience can profit from including social theories and methodologies and how for example qualitative GIS can enrich human geographers understanding of the spatial dimensions in their work.

Critical GIS and the production of geographic knowledge

Friday's Food for Thought (FiFFTh)


This InnoPool project aims at bringing the big picture into discussion and filling a gap by a new intellectual activity.

The project started in 2011 with a (1) monthly discussion club on a Friday during lunch hour to watch and discuss a TED talk or similar, (2) a bi-annual highlight event with invited inspiring speakers and (3) an annual session with GIUZ members presenting their ideas and reasoning once a year as short talks.

At the Grand Finale Event fall semester 2013 some GIUZ talks were video recorded. 

Arzu Çöltekin, Bart Klem, Glenda G. Santos, Maria Staudinger, and Stefano De Sabbata

Friday's Food for Thought

Seed Funding for an Undergraduate & Graduate Student Publishing Project

seeds and book

Through a shared publishing platform and printed annual volume, students profit from access to their peers’ excellent seminar papers, which often contain good summaries of readings as well as interesting – yet small – case studies. Consolidating and showcasing emergent knowledge and themes in the department make them available to a broader audience and add massive value to the Department. In a learning-by-doing process – and under initial guidance of experts– students become acquainted with the process of creating and publishing an edited volume of interest in print format.

Jennifer Bartmess (PGG), Tracy Ewen (H2K), Stephan Hochleithner (PGG), Gary Seitz (Library)

Introduction of a new technology in small agriculture systems: Biochar in India


The biochar technology has been recently proposed as one of the most promising technology to mitigate climate change as well as improve agricultural systems. It consists in producing a specific char out of organic wastes together with a gas usable as an energy. The char (named biochar) can be apply into the soil and there will reduce CO2 fluxes (greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere as well as improve soil fertility. Biochar is a technology that raises many expectations in terms of poverty reduction in small-scale farmers, particularly in places where the organic resources are existing and where agriculture is still an important economical sector.

If the theory is well established, the practical evidence that this system can be successful in reality are virtually absent. In particular, two questions are still pending:

  1. What are the physical levers one should considered before introducing this kind of technology in the field (physical geography aspects) ?
  2. What are the social structures that would welcome favorably such kind of structures (human geography aspects) ? 

This innopool project aims at selecting the right location from the physical and social point of view to start a large case study research project where a biochar production unit will be introduced in a village of India.

Light Use efficiency eXperiment – LUX: Testing ability of the xantophyll transformation sensitive optical indices to track dynamic of plant photosynthesis in various illumination and temperature conditions

comic sun

In this project, we wanted to take advantage of the RSL group expertise regarding spectral analysis of plant activity and 2B group expertise in plant physiology. In the field of remote sensing, indexes based on spectral properties are used to describe the vegetal biomass activity at regional scales. This is for example the case of the photochemical reflectance index (PRI), connected to the photoprotective transformation of xantophyll foliar pigments that regulates photosynthesis via thermal dissipation of excess light energy. However, the relationship between PRI and photosynthesis was shown to be inconsistent when measured at the level of whole canopy (disturbance of canopy structural effects) and in longer time period (disturbance of temporal changes in leaf chlorophyll content). Other indexes, more robust, have been proposed, but needs to be tested.

In this project, we want to test the following objectives:

  1. test their ability to track the photosynthetic activity of the small tree canopy under various illumination and temperature conditions in the controlled environment of the multi-labelling isotopes chambers (MICE).
  2. test different optical spectrum-derived indexes and test their relationship to photosynthesis.

InnoPool project team: Zbynek Malenovský, Ryan Christinger (RSL), Mirjam Studer, Samuel Abiven (Phys 2B)