MSc Topics


Master students interested in writing a thesis in remote sensing are very welcome to approach us to discuss their ideas and suggestions. In general, you should think about your interests, the skills you like to acquire and potential career paths. You should be excited about your topic, as you'll work on it for some months. Just pass by and talk with us about themes you find fascinating, interesting, or simply fun. For your inspiration, we occasionally advertise for specific Master theses. You can find these calls for Master theses below.

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Remote sensing of gas exchange in a mixed forest

The main aim of the proposed master project is to establish links between continuous spectral measurements and gas exchange observations (i.e. net CO2 assimilation, transpiration) in a mixed forest.
Dr. Eugenie Paul-Limoges

Remote sensing of 3D fields of forest gas exchange

The main aim of the proposed master project is to use a combination of 3D radiative transfer modelling, ecohydrological modelling and in situ measurements to obtain 3D fields of forest gas exchange (e.g. net CO2 assimilation, transpiration). In view of novel forecasting systems, resulting 3D fields shall be investigated to identify possible environmental drivers and their importance to determine gas exchange dynamics.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Damm

Coupling surface- and ground-carbon cycling: Implications for soil respiration in a changing environment

The respiratory release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth’s soil into the atmosphere is a major, yet poorly understood, flux in the global carbon cycle. Understanding soil respiration sensitivity to elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) and/or climatic warming remains one of the key sources of uncertainty in projecting terrestrial carbon balance and likely future shifts in the global climate. This study aims to deepen our mechanistic understanding of hidden mechanisms neither accounted for by large-scale Earth system models nor readily quantified by field experiments. We specifically explore the role of leaf-level response to eCO2 and/or temperature in regulating soil moisture (water saving effects) and the resulting impacts on CO2 release from soil due to root and rhizomicrobial respiration.

Over the course of this project, students have the opportunity to carry out some of the following tasks as part of their Master thesis:

  1. Design and fabrication of millifluidic setups resembling natural soil with microbial habitat subject to various water saturation conditions.
  2. Perform experiments to visualize spatio-temporal distribution of soil water and subsurface O2 and/or CO2 gas concentrations (i.e., soil respiration hot spots) in response to changes in environmental conditions.
  3. Develop a numerical model and perform simulations to study the flow field and transport through the micromodel.
  4. Develop an analytical model to parametrize carbon balance dynamics under prescribed environmental conditions and determine whether (and how) the whole system could be maintained as a carbon sink.

Dr. Erfan Haghighi

A multi-sensor survey of daytime variations in lake surface water temperature

Several spaceborne thermal radiometers provide suitable observations to estimate Lake Surface Water Temperature (LSWT). When specific sensor and data properties are accounted for, these observations can provide access to daytime temperature variations, which are of critical importance for the lakes’ energy budget. By doing so, this study demonstrates the potential of a new Phyton LSWT retrieval plugin for ESA’s SNAP toolbox, which was recently implemented in a project by the Swiss Space Office and will subsequently be published under an open source license.
Dr. Daniel Odermatt

Inherent optical properties in Swiss lakes

All optical water quality remote sensing depends on the visible water constituents’ absorption and scattering properties. Most current applications use representative approximations, but an improved understanding of these properties is needed for advanced applications, such as grain size or pigment composition estimation. For this purpose, we acquired new spectrometers for in situ absorption and scattering measurements. We envisage a study that makes use of them in several field campaigns on different lakes in Switzerland, and includes an analysis of the detected variations.
Dr. Daniel Odermatt

Further MS.c. Topics

Remote Sensing of Sun-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence

Remote Sensing of Plant-Water Interactions

Remote Sensing of Surface Water Quality

Remote Sensing for Carbon and Water Cycle Research

Remote Sensing of Ecosystem Functioning

Prof. Dr. Alexander Damm