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Department of Geography Remote Sensing

Earth Observation Application and Services

Within the group of Earth Observation (EO) applications and services, we focus on applied research topics such as useful, science-based tools for EO-applications, knowledge transfer and innovation. We are active in very diverse domains, be it under the activities of the national service of the “National Point of Contact for Satellite data” (NPOC), UZH Space Hub activities or satellite-based biodiversity monitoring.

Within the frame of the NPOC (part of Space Exchange Switzerland and partner of swisstopo), we provide free scientific consultations on how to use satellite data for any (also low level) applications, which tools to be used and where to get your data from. Our activities include prototyping of research tools, outreach activities, impulse consultations, workshops, presentations for all type of audiences (professionals, private, academia, NGOs, public government etc.). With our service, we can plant some seeds for a broader use of satellite data for our daily lives.

A focus project of the research within the group lies on the topic of monitoring biodiversity from satellite observations (i.e., Remote Sensing enabled Essential Biodiversity Variables) and bases on a global estimation of Land Surface Phenology (LSP) for biodiversity monitoring purposes. The activities grew from former activities within RSL and are also based on projects with the European Space Agency ESA (e.g., GlobDiversity). Within the group, we use simple browser-based solution, platforms such as Google Earth Engine, Swiss Data Cube or standard R and Python programming. LSP computation towards global scale needs for instance high-performance computing (e.g., GEE) and satellite time-series computations, whereas a NPOC consultation can be based on “having a first look at the data”. Our work is based on a diversity of suitable tools, however, normally based on open-source algorithms and freely available (satellite) data.

In general, we stand in the interface between research, innovation and applications. With being part of the operational team of the UZH Space Hub, we are active in fostering the transfer of research to application and collaboration with industry and involved in initiatives such as the UZH’s Innovathon or the Dübendorf Innovation Park.