The working group has longstanding expertise in surveying and mapping mountainous/alpine regions. Over the past decades, various projects have been carried out both in the Austrian Alps and abroad, e.g. in the Himalayas and the Andes. High mountains are fragile environments. Climate change due to global warming is gradually changing this ecosystem: glaciers are melting, permafrost is thawing and vegetation is shifting. Our research group specializes in change detection/monitoring of various alpine landforms, such as glaciers, rock glaciers (which are creep phenomena of discontinuous permafrost) and landslides (including other types of mass movements). Spatiotemporal changes in the topography can be quantified by means of accurate measurements. Different techniques, e.g. tacheometry using a total station, GPS/GNSS, close-range photogrammetry, terrestrial laser scanning, aerial survey, airborne laser scanning, and spaceborne (optical and radar) remote sensing, are available for mapping surface geometry (digital elevation models) and its associated texture (orthophotos). This 3D information/data is urgently needed for modelling purposes (process understanding, etc.) and climate change studies. Our work is thus interdisciplinary per se. Typical products of our application oriented research include high-resolution digital elevation models, dense 3D displacement vectors, flow velocity fields, grids showing surface elevation change, and mass balances. Case studies are carried out to investigate new or alternative mapping techniques, such as for example the application of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in different alpine environments. We also promote the use of consumer-grade digital cameras as a cost-efficient mapping tool in ground-based glacier monitoring. Our key test sites are located in the Hohe Tauern Range (Schober Mountains, Glockner Mountains, Ankogel Mountains) and Ötztal Alps. We also place great emphasis on visualizing the results obtained in the form of maps, graphs and computer animations.
Our team cooperates closely with the Institute of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz.