Remote sensing of the plant pigment system

Vegetation-light Interactions, Biodiversity Measurement from Space

The varying radiation regime has an impact on plant growth. We use physically based models of soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer (and their inverse) to assess ecosystem level vegetation structure (or architecture) and biochemistry. Focus is on using 1D and 3D radiative transfer models specializing on retrieval of plant pigments (Chl a/b, Carotenoids, Anthocyanin), non-pigments (leaf water), and structure (LAI, leaf inclination angle, etc.). We use in-situ, airborne and spaceborne instruments in combination with inverse modeling of those radiative transfer models to retrieve those parameters. We also improve models of NPP by using advanced Light Use Efficiency (LUE) proxies, including steady-state Chlorophyll fluorescence in the O2absorption line. We are interested in large scale changes of those parameters, allowing to model spatiotemporal changes of growth limiting factors, biochemistry and structure in a changing environment.


Recent Publications

  • Ecosystem service change caused by climatological and non-climatological drivers: a Swiss case study
    Braun, D; de Jong, R; Schaepman, ME; Furrer, R; Hein, L; Kienast, F; Damm, A
    ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS, 29 (4):10.1002/eap.1901 JUN 2019
  • A Back-Projection Tomographic Framework for VHR SAR Image Change Detection
    Dominguez, EM; Magnard, C; Meier, E; Small, D; Schaepman, ME; Henke, D
    IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 57 (7):4470-4484; 10.1109/TGRS.2019.2891308 JUL 2019
  • Mapping the Irradiance Field of a Single Tree: Quantifying Vegetation-Induced Adjacency Effects
    Kukenbrink, D; Hueni, A; Schneider, FD; Damm, A; Gastellu-Etchegorry, JP; Schaepman, ME; Morsdorf, F
    IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 57 (7):4994-5011; 10.1109/TGRS.2019.2895211 JUL 2019
  • Spatial variation of human influences on grassland biomass on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau
    Li, CX; de Jong, R; Schmid, B; Wulf, H; Schaepman, ME
    SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 665 678-689; 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.01.321 MAY 15 2019
  • Quantifying 3D structure and occlusion in dense tropical and temperate forests using close-range LiDAR
    Schneider, FD; Kukenbrink, D; Schaepman, ME; Schimel, DS; Morsdorf, F
    AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY, 268 249-257; 10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.01.033 APR 15 2019
  • Minimizing soil moisture variations in multi-temporal airborne imaging spectrometer data for digital soil mapping
    Diek, S; Chabrillat, S; Nocita, M; Schaepman, ME; de Jong, R
    GEODERMA, 337 607-621; 10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.09.052 MAR 1 2019
  • Automated detection of individual clove trees for yield quantification in northeastern Madagascar based on multi-spectral satellite data
    Roth, SIB; Leiterer, R; Volpi, M; Celio, E; Schaepman, ME; Joerg, PC
    REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 221 144-156; 10.1016/j.rse.2018.11.009 FEB 2019
  • Effect of environmental conditions on sun-induced fluorescence in a mixed forest and a cropland
    Paul-Limoges, E; Damm, A; Hueni, A; Liebisch, F; Eugster, W; Schaepman, ME; Buchmann, N
    REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 219 310-323; 10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.018 DEC 15 2018
  • Crop Classification in a Heterogeneous Arable Landscape Using Uncalibrated UAV Data
    Bohler, JE; Schaepman, ME; Kneubuhler, M
    REMOTE SENSING, 10 (8):10.3390/rs10081282 AUG 2018
  • Understanding and assessing vegetation health by in situ species and remote-sensing approaches
    Lausch, A; Bastian, O; Klotz, S; Leitao, PJ; Jung, A; Rocchini, D; Schaepman, ME; Skidmore, AK; Tischendorf, L; Knapp, S
    METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 9 (8):1799-1809; 10.1111/2041-210X.13025 AUG 2018
  • Genomics meets remote sensing in global change studies: monitoring and predicting phenology, evolution and biodiversity
    Yamasaki, E; Altermatt, F; Cavender-Bares, J; Schuman, MC; Zuppinger-Dingley, D; Garonna, I; Schneider, FD; Guillen-Escriba, C; van Moorsel, SJ; Hahl, T; Schmid, B; Schaepman-Strub, G; Schaepman, ME; Shimizu, KK
    CURRENT OPINION IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, 29 177-186; 10.1016/j.cosust.2018.03.005 DEC 2017
  • Integrative research efforts at the boundary of biodiversity and global change research
    Abiven, S; Altermatt, F; Backhaus, N; Deplazes-Zemp, A; Furrer, R; Korf, B; Niklaus, PA; Schaepman-Strub, G; Shimizu, KK; Zuppinger-Dingley, D; Petchey, OL; Schaepman, ME
    CURRENT OPINION IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, 29 215-222; 10.1016/j.cosust.2018.04.016 DEC 2017
  • Environmental change issues: Integrated global change and biodiversity research for a sustainable future
    Zuppinger-Dingley, D; Krug, CB; Petchey, O; Schmid, B; Backhaus, N; Schaepman, ME
  • Observations, indicators and scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services change - a framework to support policy and decision-making
    Krug, CB; Schaepman, ME; Shannon, LJ; Cavender-Bares, J; Cheung, W; McIntyre, PB; Metzger, JP; Niinemets, U; Obura, DO; Schmid, B; Strassburg, BBN; Van Teeffelen, AJA; Weyl, OLF; Yasuhara, M; Leadley, PW
    CURRENT OPINION IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, 29 198-206; 10.1016/j.cosust.2018.04.001 DEC 2017
  • Monitoring biodiversity change through effective global coordination
    Navarro, LM; Fernandez, N; Guerra, C; Guralnick, R; Kissling, WD; Londono, MC; Muller-Karger, F; Turak, E; Balvanera, P; Costello, MJ; Delavaud, A; El Serafy, GY; Ferrier, S; Geijzendorffer, I; Geller, GN; Jetz, W; Kim, ES; Kim, H; Martin, CS; McGeoch, MA; Mwampamba, TH; Nel, JL; Nicholson, E; Pettorelli, N; Schaepman, ME; Skidmore, A; Pinto, IS;
    Vergara, S; Vihervaara, P; Xu, HG; Yahara, T; Gill, M; Pereira, HM
    CURRENT OPINION IN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, 29 158-169; 10.1016/j.cosust.2018.02.005 DEC 2017
  • A Multisquint Framework for Change Detection in High-Resolution Multitemporal SAR Images
    Dominguez, Elias Mendez; Meier, Erich; Small, David; Schaepman, Michael E.; Bruzzone, Lorenzo; Henke, Daniel
    IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 56 (6):3611-3623; 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2805471 JUN 2018
  • The Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South
    Deplazes-Zemp, A; Abiven, S; Schaber, P; Schaepman, M; Schaepman-Strub, G; Schmid, B; Shimizu, KK; Altermatt, F
    NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 2 (6):917-919; 10.1038/s41559-018-0561-z JUN 2018
  • Predicting Missing Values in Spatio-Temporal Remote Sensing Data
    Gerber, Florian; de Jong, Rogier; Schaepman, Michael E.; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela; Furrer, Reinhard
    IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 56 (5):2841-2853; 10.1109/TGRS.2017.2785240 MAY 2018
  • Spatio-temporal trends and trade-offs in ecosystem services: An Earth observation based assessment for Switzerland between 2004 and 2014
    Braun, Daniela; Damm, Alexander; Hein, Lars; Petchey, Owen L.; Schaepman, Michael E.
    ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS, 89 828-839; 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.10.016 JUN 2018
  • Relative Influence of Timing and Accumulation of Snow on Alpine Land Surface Phenology
    Xie, Jing; Kneubuhler, Mathias; Garonna, Irene; de Jong, Rogier; Notarnicola, Claudia; De Gregorio, Ludovica; Schaepman, Michael E.
    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-BIOGEOSCIENCES, 123 (2):561-576; 10.1002/2017JG004099 FEB 2018
  • Shifting relative importance of climatic constraints on land surface phenology 
    Garonna, Irene; de Jong, Rogier; Stockli, Reto; et al. 
  • Using Multitemporal Sentinel-1 C-band Backscatter to Monitor Phenology and Classify Deciduous and Coniferous Forests in Northern Switzerland 
    Rueetschi, Marius; Schaepman, Michael E.; Small, David 
    REMOTE SENSING, 10 (1): JAN 2018
  • Moving Target Tracking in SAR Data Using Combined Exo- and Endo-Clutter Processing 
    Henke, Daniel; Dominguez, Elias Mendez; Small, David; et al. 



Michael Schaepman UZH

Prof. Dr. Michael Schaepman
University of Zurich
Department of Geography Remote Sensing Laboratories
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 635 51 60

Research topics

  • Remote sensing of the plant pigment system
  • Estimating net primary productivity using models of light interaction
  • Radiative transfer modeling to map composition and chemistry of species at large scales
  • Quantitatively assess the phylogenetic organization of plants from satellites
  • Measurement of structural and biochemical traits and their response to global change
  • Assess spatiotemporal changes of functional diversity of spatially dominant species



  • Ecological genomics (linking genetic and pigment diversity)
  • Phenomics
  • Spectranomics
  • Combination of light interactions with gas exchange models