[ES_JOBS_NET] PhD project: Multi-scale Remote Sensing Retrieval Methods for Carbon Stock Estimates along a Transect from Savannah to Tropical Biomes

Anna Görner anna.goerner at bgc-jena.mpg.de
Thu Aug 8 04:07:00 MDT 2013

Multi-scale Remote Sensing Retrieval Methods for Carbon Stock Estimates
along a Transect from Savannah to Tropical Biomes

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Christiane Schmullius

Project description

This PhD project targets to develop a robust methodology to support the
assessment of carbon stocks and to monitor carbon changes along a
Savannah-to-rainforest transect in Mexico using in situ measurements and
remote sensing data. The proposed monitoring tool will facilitate
quantitative estimations in loss of carbon storage and support the
selection of terrestrial (e.g. tropical dry forests, shrublands) sites
for conservation priorities with high value for the national carbon
budget. For terrestrial products, algorithms and models using high
spatial resolution satellite data will be trained and calibrated with
site-specific data. Up-scaling to coarser resolutions is important for
operational monitoring of intra- and inter-annual processes and can be
performed using satellite time series data. The products will be jointly
generated with the local authorities to ensure their use for the
ecosystem service component carbon stocks, i.e. an objective process of
providing incentives to land owners, the monitoring of the compliance of
the obligations, and the budgeting of carbon in the landscape.

The successful candidate is expected to develop a monitoring strategy
that takes full advantage of Earth observation data and will lead to a
system that can be used by the concerned Mexican authorities (CONAFOR,
CONABIO) for their REDD-programme (Reducing Emissions by avoiding
Deforestation and Degradation). The monitoring strategy shall exploit
satellite images from different sensors with a variety of spectral and
geometrical resolutions in conjunction with the available Mexican
environmental databases. Further field and laboratory work is planned in
order to capture state variables of the forest parameters. The
scientific objective is the development of a new set of retrieval
algorithms for the upcoming ESA-satellites Sentinel-1 and -2 by
exploiting synergistic radar-optical interaction mechanisms with the
surface conditions and by taking advantage of higher temporal repetition
frequencies and various, higher-resolved geometric resolutions. This
work is imbedded in the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) of
the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Mexico is one of GEO’s Forest
Carbon Tracking National Demonstrator countries.

Working group

The Department for Earth Observation at the Friedrich Schiller
University Jena was established in January 2000 and employs now 18
remote sensing scientists. Research focuses on land applications ranging
from operational vegetation mapping (specifically biomass) to crop and
soil moisture monitoring. The Department is internationally recognized
for its radar modelling approaches based on interferometry and
hyper-temporal datasets, large area mapping exercises and exploitation
of multi-scale radar-optical synergy. Recently, the algorithm workbench
was extended to deformation mapping with persistent scatterer techniques
and an optical data assimilation system.

The Research School

The successful candidate will become a member of the International Max
Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC).
The school provides excellent research possibilities for students to
obtain a PhD degree in a 3-years graduate program. The elements key to
life such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen are continuously
exchanged among the land, ocean and atmosphere in what are known as
global biogeochemical cycles. Research in the IMPRS-gBGC discovers how
these cycles function, how they are interconnected, and how they can
change with climate or human activity. 
In their thesis projects,
students deal with various crucial aspects of global biogeochemical
cycles and participate in ongoing research comprising field
observations, method development, experiments, and modeling. Students
will also benefit from a three-month external research visit,
specialised courses in e.g. statistics, Earth observation, modelling and
analytical techniques, as well as in soft skills and will have ample
opportunity to develop their personal career networks. 
The school is
thus an excellent starting platform for a successful career in a field
related to global biogeochemical cycles and Earth System Science.


Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and
highly-qualified students from all countries. For this particular PhD
project we seek a candidate with completed academic studies (University
or University of Applied Science, M.Sc. or equivalent) and substantiated
knowledge in the field of optical and radar remote sensing. The
candidate should have very good experience in dealing with remote
sensing software (e.g. PCI Geomatics or ENVI IDL and Gamma) as well as
R, IDL or Matlab and the processing of large data volumes. High
competence in advanced radar applications (polarimetry, interferometry)
for Savannah and/or tropical environments is required.

Motivation, teamwork capacity, the willingness to enter new subject
areas (e.g. other programming languages, radar backscattering theory)
and a keen interest in spatio-temporal and synergistic optical-radar
retrieval algorithms are a prerequisite for the successful realisation
of the project. The candidate is expected to carry out the necessary
technical and theoretical work with a high degree of self-organisation.
Due to the necessary field work in Mexico, fluency in English and good
communication skills in Spanish are necessary. The work shall start on
January 1st, 2014.

How to apply

Application deadline for these fully funded PhD positions is September
30, 2013. Top candidates will be invited to take part in our selection
symposium (December 03-04, 2013).

>> Apply online: www.imprs-gbgc.de

After you have been selected The IMPRS-gBGC office will happily assist
you with your transition to Jena. Successful applicants are expected to
join us in winter 2013/14 and will receive a comfortable PhD stipend to cover all their
living expenses. There are no tuition fees. Additional financial support is available for conference visits, 
participation in summer schools and a 3-month research visit to another top lab. 

Handicapped persons with comparable qualifications receive preferential status.

Anna Goerner - coordinator
International Max Planck Research School
	for Global Biogeochemical Cycles
MPI for Biogeochemistry
Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
phone:   +49 3641 576260
e-mail:  anna.goerner at bgc-jena.mpg.de


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