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Sophia Walther

How can complementary but heterogeneous EO data streams from ESA be integrated into data-driven simulation approaches like FLUXCOM?

Sophia completed her Bsc (2011) and Msc (2014) studies in meteorology at the Free University in Berlin. In her PhD, Sophia specialized in global vegetation remote sensing, with a focus on phenology as observed by means of sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and traditional reflectance-based approaches, both at the Free University Berlin, the Geophysical Research Centre (Potsdam, Germany) and the Joint Research Centre (Ispra, Italy). Since 2018 Sophia is a postdoctoral researcher in the global diagnostic modelling group at the Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena/ Germany where she is member of the core team working on data-driven flux simulations.

Research objectives

This project aims to improve data-driven modelling of global terrestrial carbon fluxes under droughts by integrating innovative Earth observation data from ESA programmes into the ‘FLUXCOM’ approach. We will exploit the  complementary information on ecosystem’s moisture status and stress contained in state-of-the-art products based on thermal (land surface temperature), active and passive microwave (soil moisture and vegetation optical depth), as well as fluorescence remote sensing. The integration of ESA data streams together with satellite observations from non-ESA missions and very recent in-situ observations will boost data-driven carbon flux simulations. Specific objectives of this project are to develop methods to combine Earth observation products despite their heterogeneous acquisition properties, and to harmonize and collocate them with in-situ flux tower measurements. We will conduct extensive machine learning modelling and validation experiments for identifying which (combination) of the promising new predictors yields largest improvements for carbon flux predictions under drought. This will facilitate the generation of improved spatially-explicit estimates of global net and gross carbon fluxes, and enhance our mechanistic understanding of drought effects on the biosphere.

Read more on the research project sheet.