Summer School 2018 on Earth Surface Dynamics

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The VolkswagenFoundation funds a series of two summer schools entitled “Earth Surface Dynamics – Understanding Processes at the Earth’s Vulnerable Skin” led by apl. Prof. Dr. Martin H. Trauth, together with nine instructors from Germany, United Kingdom, and Ethiopia. The application is now open, and the deadline is 1 October 2017. Download the summer school 2018 flyer.

Here is the program:

Please find additional information on location and time of the summer school and on how to apply on Martin’s blog:

Hope to see you there!

Best regards, Wolfgang


Finishing course on high resolution topography

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TopoToolbox magic is just a system of linear equations…

Today was the last day of the Strategy course ‘Advancing understanding of geomorphology with topographic analysis emphasizing high resolution topography‘ that more than 20 international students and researchers attended. Ramon Arrowsmith (Arizona State University), Bodo Bookhagen (University of Potsdam), Chris Crosby (UNAVCO) and I provided guidance to the analysis of digital elevation models. Obtaining fluency in writing MATLAB- and TopoToolbox-code was among the major aims of the course. The enthusiasm and steep learning curve of the participants demonstrate that we probably reached this goal. Thanks to all participants and colleagues that this course was such a success!

For those who were unable to attend: Here is the link to the course website on opentopography.org that hosts a number of slides and code snippets.


New Master’s Degree Program at the University of Potsdam

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The University of Potsdam has a new Master’s degree program “Remote Sensing, geoInformation and Visualization”. This English-language program focuses on the gathering, processing, analysing, and presentation of geoscientific spatial data by using remote-sensing technologies and data-processing methods. The program uses models and theories to assess geoinformation, and then to prepare and communicate our findings with modern means of visualization.

The new program provides a great opportunity to improve your skills in a rapidly evolving research field that also has broad applicability outside academia. If you are interested, please see this site here for further details on the program and the application for enrollment. See you in Potsdam!

Geomorphometry Short Course at the EGU 2017, Vienna

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Only few days left until the EGU begins, the largest European annual geoscience meeting in Vienna. In case you attend you should consider to participate the short course in geomorphometry: Getting the most out of DEMs of Difference. The course is organized by Tobias Heckmann, Paolo Tarolli and me and will be on Wednesday, 26 April, 13:30-15:00 in Room N1.

Please see here for further details on the course’s aims and scope.

Short courses on the analysis of elevation data at the University of Potsdam

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Two short courses are scheduled for mid June at Potsdam University. The short courses are independent of each other; however, the topics are related and probably address a similar audience.

Geoscience investigations of point clouds, June 7-9, 2017. Instructors B. Bookhagen, R. Arrowsmith, M. Isenburg, C. Crosby.

This course will explore the acquisition, post-processing, and classification of point clouds derived from airborne and terrestrial lidar scanners and structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry from drones. The course will take place at campus Golm (UP) and includes one day of field-data collection and two days of data post-processing and analysis.
The application is here: https://goo.gl/forms/NrRAcaASXPuseRs62. The course is sponsored by Geo-X.
Here is the flyer: PDF for more details.

Advancing understanding of geomorphology with topographic analysis emphasizing high resolution topography, June 12-15, 2017. Instructors R. Arrowsmith, W. Schwanghart, C. Crosby, B. Bookhagen.

This course will focus on advanced understanding of geomorphology with topographic analysis emphasizing high-resolution topography. The course will take place at campus Golm (UP) and includes theoretical background and analysis of digital topography using TopoToolbox in a Matlab environment. The course is sponsored by StRATEGy.
Here is the flyer: PDF for more details.

I’d be glad to see you in Potsdam!

Digital Terrain Analysis of Anthropogenic Landscapes

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Paolo Tarolli, Tobias Heckmann and I have organized a workshop at the EGU. If you attend the EGU, consider participating this course on Wednesday, 20 Apr. 13:30-15:00 in Room L4/5.

Humans are among the most prominent geomorphic agents, redistributing land surface, and causing drastic changes to the geomorphic organization of the landscape (e.g. intensive agriculture, urbanization, mining, roads construction), with direct consequences on land degradation and watershed response.

Tarolli & Sofia 2016 (Geomorphology)

High-resolution topography (HRT) can be useful for engineered landscapes, where the anthropic forcing related to human activities may affect natural processes (Tarolli, 2014). HRT could play a strategic and helpful role, through the recognition of human-induced geomorphic and anthropogenic features, and the connected erosion.

In this workshop, we will explore various techniques to extract and analyze anthropogenic features from high-resolution Digital Terrain Models (DTMs), and to account for the problems associated with such features in anthropogenic landscapes. Basic knowledge in Matlab® and GIS, and the availability of a laptop are an advantage but they are not a requirement to attend the workshop. Attendants at the beginning of the workshop will receive teaching materials and guidelines for the proposed methodologies.

Specifically, we will aim at:

  1. Extracting channel levees in floodplains, and terraces walls on hillslopes applying the semi-automatic techniques.
  2. Identifying terraces/road induced erosion/landslides.
  3. Automatic detection of bank erosion in agricultural drainage networks.

Upon course termination attendants will be awarded with a specific certificate of attendance signed by the EGU – GM division President and by the workshop Instructor.


Tarolli, P., Sofia, G. (2016). Human topographic signatures and derived geomorphic processes across landscapes. Geomorphology, 255, 140-161.

Tarolli, P. (2014). High-resolution topography for understanding Earth surface processes: opportunities and challenges. Geomorphology, 216, 295-312.

Immersive 3D geovisualization in higher education

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In a previous post, I have highlighted the course Geosimulator at the University of Potsdam led by Ariane Walz. This course was a research-based graduate course focusing on flood risk assessment in the different basins of the Ore Mountains. My task in this course was to teach students how to prepare DEMs for hydrodynamic simulations and how to set up and run the hydrodynamic model LISFLOOD FP.

Central to this course was the use of the university’s 3D lab. This lab offers optical immersion in a 3D CAVE (computer-animated virtual environment) that enables digital 3D objects to hover in mid-air and allows users to move physically around these objects. The CAVE thus provides opportunities for interactive exploration of higher-dimensional data and supports novel ways of gaining insights into complex data structures.

In a now published paper in Journal of Geography in Higher Education we evaluate the possibilities and usefulness of immersive 3D geovisualization in science communication and higher education. We conducted a survey among the Geosimulator students that revealed several benefits of using the 3D CAVE such as better orientation in the study area and higher interactivity with data. In particular, students found that the CAVE enhanced and stimulated discussions in the course and increased motivation, suggesting that working in a 3D lab can effectively enhance the interactive learning among students.

Philips, A., Walz, A., Bergner, A., Graeff, T., Heistermann, M., Kienzler, S., Korup, O., Lipp, T., Schwanghart, W., Zeilinger, G. (2015): Immersive 3D Geovisualisation in Higher Education. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 39, 437-449. [DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2015.1066314]