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Upcoming Events

Mapping Mountain Vegetation Using Very-High-Resolution Remote Sensing: Challenges in Global Data Access and Image Classification

18/07/2022 23/07/2022

MRI Event

Event location

Kochel am See

This Synthesis Workshop co-organised by the Philipps University of Marburg and the Mountain Research Initiative will take place from 18-23 July 2022.

It will be held at the Georg-von-Vollmar Akademie*, Kochel am See, Bayern, Germany. 

This Synthesis Workshop will take place in a semi-hybrid format (enabling on-site and online participation) to account for potential travel restrictions.

*location only, no political affiliation implied

About the Event

Key words: alpine vegetation, treeline ecotone, fine-scale vegetation mapping, remote sensing, machine learning, pattern analysis

Mountain plant populations are already observed to shift uphill due to climate change, with resulting changes in vegetation composition and functionality. Apart from uphill shifts, local shifts to suitable microsites, functioning as local refugia, are also expected, thereby reducing the overall risk of extinction for mountain species. Characterizing fine-scale spatial patterns in vegetation cover, emerging through microsite preferences and spatial ecological processes, is therefore important to understand alpine vegetation dynamics and to predict the future of the alpine zone.

To characterize and monitor such patterns, very-high-resolution remote sensing (i.e. with spatial resolutions < 0.5 m) offers great promise, in particular in the fine-grained alpine vegetation above the closed forest. However, two big challenges need to be overcome before this potentially fantastic resource can be applied to map vegetation cover and to monitor change in mountains globally: the availability of and access to these data, and the analysis of the images in terms of recognizing and delineating vegetation types and, in the case of larger species like shrubs, trees, cushion plants and giant rosettes, individuals.

In this workshop, we aim to address these two challenges by discussing the following questions:

1. What very-high-resolution data are available in different mountain areas of the world and how can we help to increase their accessibility?

2. What data sources (e.g. satellite-based vs. drone-based) and methods are most suitable to map small-scale patterns in vegetation cover from the treeline ecotone into the alpine zone? Additionally, in the absence of easily available fine-scale imagery, how can readily available coarser-scale data be used to learn more about the fine details of alpine vegetation patterns?

3. How can we build up and jointly train a convolutional neural network to map vegetation in alpine treeline ecotones in different parts of the world?

The expected outputs of the workshop include:

1. An action plan for GEO Mountains to set up a database of available very-high-resolution remotely sensed imagery of mountain vegetation globally.

2. A draft of a review paper on available methods and challenges related to remote-sensing-based very-high-resolution vegetation mapping in mountains globally.

3. An action plan for setting up the collaborative training of a convolutional neural network model for mapping vegetation in alpine treeline ecotones.

4. More generally: research collaboration and potential future joint projects.

The program will include presentations and discussions with active contributions from all participants. We also plan for a one-day excursion to the treeline on the nearby Zugspitze range (highest mountain of Germany).

Call for Participation

We invite participation from researchers whose research is directly related to the workshop questions. We particularly encourage researchers with experience in acquiring (or producing) and using very-high-resolution remote sensing products for (remote) mountain regions, life-long learning of convolutional neural networks applied to high-resolution remote sensing, or high-resolution remote sensing of vegetation in general.  We can provide travel funding for a small number of participants, which we will select based on the potential contribution to the workshop while also promoting diversity in terms of gender, career stage, and geographical location.

Please indicate in your application whether travel funding (full or partial) is requested. Please submit an application letter (for full attendance as participant) and an abstract explaining your expectations from the workshops and summarizing your research interests and experience (not exceeding 500 words) and a short CV to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 15 March 2022.

While the number of participants in the discussion sessions is restricted, to keep the team work manageable, plenary talks may be attended online by additional registered persons. To register as a listener only, please send a short email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive future emails with information about the timing of and access to the talks.

In addition, to get an initial overview of data sources in different mountains systems globally, we, the workshop organisers and GEO Mountains, also invite researchers who have access to such data to share the metadata (source, access policies, sensors, spatial resolution, spatial coverage, time stamps / return times, etc) with us (in compliance with data protection policies of the data providers) for future collaboration and/or cooperation. Please do so by sending an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The organizing team: Nishtha Prakash, Maaike Bader (University of Marburg, Germany), Johanna Toivonen (University of Turku, Finland).

Get in touch

Cover image by Timur Kozmenko.

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