Region Leipzig-Halle. Quelle: UFZ

“Remote Sensing Centre for Earth System Research”

Between the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ) and Leipzig University (UL)


The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences at Leipzig University (UL) currently establish the joint Remote Sensing Centre for Earth System Research (RSC) to conduct innovative research for deepening the understanding of the Earth system by means of remote sensing. The mission is to form a nationally and internationally recognised research and education facility focusing on fundamental and application-oriented remote sensing research.
The RSC will be embedded in a scientific landscape with a great variety of sciences committed to high-level research and with a great demand for innovative remote sensing products and applications. Geo- and biosciences on the one, remote sensing on the other hand will mutually foster each other and trigger a high scientific transfer between the different disciplines.

Organisation of Remote Sensing Centre for Earth System Research (RSC)

Organisation of the RSC

The RSC will be associated with both, UFZ and UL, providing an optimal framework and most-suited opportunities to benefit from and contribute to the existing research structures at both institutions. The centre will comprise four professorships, three to be appointed and one already in place (Prof. Vohland). The three new positions will address the research fields (i) modelling approaches in remote sensing, (ii) water cycles, and (iii) geo- and ecosystem analysis (see chart above). All three professorships will be appointed by UL in the Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences, one as a joint appointment with UFZ. At the UFZ the professorship will be heading a new department.

Associated research areas at the UFZ

The UFZ is one of the world’s leading research centres in the field of integrated environmental research. It hosts 38 departments with geo- and bioscientists, mathematical modellers, toxicologists, chemists, and social scientists and operates a large number of associated infrastructures. The new Remote Sensing department will be established in the Research Area ‘Modelling and Monitoring’.

Remote sensing at the UFZ

Today, remote sensing at the UFZ is mainly applied in four research areas: vegetation, water, biodiversity, and urbanisation. Please visit the linked pages for more information about the use of remote sensing data and methods in these research fields.

At the heart of UFZ remote sensing are two working groups (‘Remote Sensing of Ecosystems’ and ‘Remote Sensing and Ecological Modelling’) with long-term experience in optical-reflective remote sensing as well as coupling remote sensing and ecological modelling.

Analyses are based on a variety of publicly available data, but also based on data acquired by own instruments such as drones, airborne platforms, and measuring networks. More detailed information is available here.

Associated research areas at the UL

The Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences at UL strives to deepen and broaden both natural and social scientific knowledge and to fulfil its mission of education and knowledge transfer. Research activities are embedded in the research areas of the UL, which combine the humanities and social sciences, life sciences as well as natural sciences in approximately equal parts.

Remote sensing at the UL

Current research in remote sensing at the UL is mainly established at the Institute for Geography (IfG) and the Leipzig Institute for Meteorology (LIM). At the IfG remote sensing group, research activities mainly focus on the analysis of multi- and hyperspectral remote (reflective and thermal) and proximal sensing data for an analysis of geo- and ecosystem related processes, functions, and state variables. Research is conducted in close collaboration with UFZ and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig for the multiscale analysis of landscapes and integrates the coupling of remote sensing with spatial modelling approaches. At LIM, competences in the field of atmospheric and earth surface remote sensing cover ground-based, airborne, and satellite-based active (radar) and passive remote sensing techniques and methods. Main issues are remote sensing of the middle and upper atmosphere, clouds and aerosol particles, and the radiative forcing analysis for climate modelling through satellite observations. Please visit the linked pages for more detailed information.

The new RSC will profit from extensive domain knowledge existing at UFZ and UL with more than 500 scientists working in a 10 km vicinity. That allows and requires the members of the centre not only to focus on disciplinary pathways but also to address complex questions that make use of the full expertise available at the RSC and its associated institutions. The objective is to conduct interdisciplinary, creative, and cutting-edge research that develops new algorithms and remote sensing approaches besides making use of existing data analysis routines.

Planned local cooperation

RSC strongly relates to the established research field of Sustainable Systems and Biodiversity, which is one of nine currently established research profile areas at UL. In the field of biodiversity-related research, the iDiv Halle-Jena-Leipzig (DFG research centre) provides an outstanding node of science including remote sensing applications. It is run by a broad consortium of science institutions offering excellent experimental and virtual research platforms dedicated to biodiversity research. Furthermore, the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL), and the Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering (IOM) will be main research cooperation partners within the Leipzig science community.

Planned national cooperation

The centre will cooperate with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) that has a strong expertise in operating space missions. Among the DLR institutes, the Institute of Data Science founded in Jena in 2017 has a strong thematic and regional reference to the RSC, as big data science and remote sensing are directly linked issues. Further cooperation is anticipated with various university and non-university research institutions in- and outside Germany.

Current professorship vacancies

Find out more information on our job offer´s page

Selected links to potential cooperation partners: