This was my first time at one of the UK’s most important GIS conferences, GISRUK, and I was very impressed by the high level of the contributions. For landscape science, the ecology session was particularly interesting, e.g. Gullick et. al.’s (2017) presentation about tree risk evaluation.  Other relevant sessions on remote sensing, VGI and visualisation. Between sessions, Prof. Andy Hudson-Smith from the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis CASA and at the end of the conference, BBC2 presenter Nick Crane gave intriguing key notes.

Some of Nick Crane’s work can be explored as @ESRI #Storymap “The Making of the British Landscape


PECSRL 2016 Permanent European Conference on the Study of the Rural Landscape

Last week, the Permanent European Conference on the Study of the Rural Landscape PECSRL conference 2016 took place in Innsbruck and Seefeld (Austria). It was my first time at PECSRL and I was impressed how well organised it was. It was also a very productive time because it had merged with the autumn meeting of a COST Action network I´m in. And last not least, I liked the basic PECSRL idea to host the first two days in an urban environment, then go on a field trip, and host the last two days out in the countryside.

The presentations stood out through their great variety but most topics were not directly related to the theme of this blog. Except the presentation by Salak, Boris & Brandenburg, Christiane: Mixed method design as a supportive tool for evaluation of interactive 3D approaches to enhance objectification in wind energy planning processes in Session 5: Renewable energies in mountain landscapes: conflicts and synergies.

As part of the Windnet project, the authors and their colleagues organised expert workshops, survey and interviews with 27 wind energy relevant organisations. One part of the project addressed the use of visualizations in the workshops and the research question was: Is there a difference between the following three different visualisation techniques?

  • Slideshow (low immersion)
  • Interactive 3D model in game engine using a PS3 controller
  • Virtual Reality w/ stereo images, running on a mobile phone
Salak 2016
Salak 2016


70 participants completed the visualization parcour and in summary gave the following feedback:

  • Very positive feedback regarding the visualizations across all groups
  • participants trust in the information 3D
  • participants navigate very oriented in digital spaces
  • participants visit emotional landscapes first in 3d
  • participants check plausibility
  • mention transparency
  • technical tools supports personal imagination
  • good technical equipment

The full report can be read at and further information is provided at

Open Position: PhD Candidate in landscape planning

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Open Position: PhD Candidate in landscape planning

The Chair of Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems at ETH Zürich has an opening in the area of GIS and remote sensing based landscape planning. The research group focuses on understanding how the interactions and/or actions of humans shape landscapes at various temporal and spatial scales. For fostering participatory landscape planning, they investigate how people perceive the landscape using state-of-the-art 3D visualizations of landscape changes and generate decision support tools. Particularly, they explore how an iterative process between design and science can allow co-creating place specific responses satisfying human needs and demands for well-being in a sustainable manner.

In the frame of the module “Ecosystem Services in Urban Landscapes” at the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore, a joint initiative between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and Singapore’s National Research Foundation, we are looking for

a doctoral student (100%) in landscape planning

to build a ecosystem services-based decision support system for planning urban green areas in mega-cities.
For setting up such a spatially explicit decision support system, we are looking for a highly skilled and motivated candidate to work on the development of ecosystem services modeling approaches using as far as possible earth observation data in an urban environment. Ground truthing will be done in cooperation with ecologists.
The candidate should have a Master’s degree in environmental sciences, ecology, geography, or applied geoinformatics with expertise in ecosystem science, remote sensing, natural resources management, and geospatial analysis. Skills in English scientific writing within the subject area will be given emphasis in the evaluation. Furthermore, strong communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills are needed, as there will be a strong collaboration with landscape architects, landscape ecologists, and water engineers in the frame of the project. The workplace will be at the Future Cities Lab in Singapore, a vibrant and highly innovative setting. The PhD will obtained from ETH Zurich.
For further information, please contact (no applications) or visit our website at and

Please submit your application online (Apply now), which includes a comprehensive CV, cover letter, diplomas, work certificates, and contact information of at least two references and upload all documents (pdf is recommended) to ETH Zurich, Mrs. Corina Niescher, Human Resources, CH-8092 Zurich. The position will remain open until filled.

A picture is worth a thousand data points: Exploring visualizations as tools for connecting the public to climate change research

Labelled elements of an interactive visualization of secondary energy production and consumption in Canada from 1960 to 2010.
Labelled elements of an interactive visualization of secondary energy production and consumption in Canada from 1960 to 2010.

In this newly published open source paper, Robert Newell, Ann Dale and Celia Winters at Royal Roads University in BC investigated the efficiency and effectiveness of interactive data visualisations in the commmunication of building energy production and consumption. Two visualizations were built that held contrasting features: an abstract, static visualization built in the form of a time-series graph and a dynamic, interactive visualization with a ‘picturesque’ design. The results indicate that the interactive visualization held higher potential for drawing in and maintaining audience interests, whereas the static visualization was more useful for users wishing to gain a more detailed understanding of the data. These findings suggest that both types of visualizations have complementary strengths, and collaboration between trans-disciplinary research teams and graphic artists can lead to visualizations that attract diverse audiences and facilitate different information needs and access.

In addition to the most interesting research, the paper itseld includes some interactive PDF features inherently picking up the topic of interactivity in its own presentation.

Link to the paper


Fully funded PhD on landscape visualization at the University of Rhode Island

(c) Peter Stempel (2016)
(c) Peter Stempel (2016)

In his dissertation, Peter Stempel at the University of Rhode Island has done outstanding research about the ways in which realism used in visualizations influences the perception of risk (see the figure above for an example). His particular focus has been on storm surges and sea level rise, continuing some of the work done by Prof. Stephen Sheppard, David Flanders, me and others at the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning at UBC and published in Sheppard (2012) “Visualizing Climate Change”.

(c) Peter Stempel 2016
(c) Peter Stempel 2016

Peter has also made a short presentation at a recent estuarine and coastal modelling conference last week and you can watch a narrated version here:

Now, the University has created a position for someone to participate in and continue the work Peter has begun. This position is a fully funded assistantship focused on visualization (PhD).  Rhode Island University are actively recruiting applicants.

Contact regarding the PhD position should go to Dr. Austin Becker, and Dr. Peter Stempel

PhD candidate job description






Research paper comparing 2D versus 3D landscape visualisations with regard to economic valuation

2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)
2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial
lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)

In this fully open access paper, Michael Getzner, Barbara Faerber and Claudia Yamu compare 2D versus (stereoscopic) 3D landscape visualisations of different landscape scenarios in the Alps. Although there have been previous studies of landscape visualizations of alpine scenarios, I found that this paper is adding a couple of particularly new perspectives: a) the use of stereoscopic (anaglyph) visualisations and b) the link to the economic valuation of different landscapes through the participants. It should be said that this study like many others was conducted with students. However, I think it provides the legitimization to use landscape visualisations for other studies on the economic valuation of such landscapes.




New publication series on Digital Landscape Architecture

Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture
Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture


Buhmann, Erich; Ervin, Stephen; Hehl-Lange, Sigrid; Palmer, James (Hrsg.)

JoDLA – Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture 1-2016

17th International Conference of Information Technologies in Landscape Architecture 01-03 June 2016, Istanbul, Turkey

2016, X, 374 Seiten, 170 x 240 mm, Broschur
ISBN 978-3-87907-612-3

This is the first issue of the new Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture. JoDLA addresses all aspects of digital technologies, applications, information, and knowledge bases in research, education, and practice pertaining to landscape architecture and related fields. The journal publishes original papers that address theoretical and practical issues, innovative developments, methods, applications, findings, and case studies that are drawn primarily from work presented at the annual international Digital Landscape Architecture conference. Its intent is to encourage the broad dissemination of these ideas, innovations, and practices.

This issue of the Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture, 1-2016, presents contributions from the 17th annual conference at the Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey, (June 1 to 3, 2016) covering five broad themes:

• Systems Thinking in Landscape Design Processes
• Landscape Visualization and Analysis
• Geodesign Concepts and Applications
• Mobile Devices for Geodesign
• Teaching Methods in Digital Landscape Architecture

Link to the publisher for ordering

New research paper on sound in landscape visualisation

Ass. Prof. Dr. Mark Lindquist, who completed his PhD at the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield, just published a paper in Landscape and Urban Planning summarizing his findings about the contribution of sound to the perception of landscape visualisations.

His key research findings are:

  • Sound significantly alters perceptual responses to 3D landscape visualizations.
  • Realism and preference are moderated by congruency of visual and sound content
  • Eye level Google Earth visualizations receive low realism ratings.
  • Aural-visual survey data collected via the web is comparable to laboratory data.
  • Sound and visuals that are spatiotemporally congruent are recommended for simulations.

You can read and download the fully accessible open source paper by Lindquist, Lange and Kang (2016) here: From 3D landscape visualization to environmental simulation: The contribution of sound to the perception of virtual environments

Views and landscape elements used in the research: view 1 (top row); view 2 (middle row); view 3 (bottom row); by visual condition (1 left column; 2 middle column; 3 right column) (©Google Earth).
Views and landscape elements used in the research: view 1 (top row); view 2 (middle row); view 3 (bottom row); by visual condition (1 left column; 2 middle column; 3 right column) (©Google Earth).





Terrapattern: Visual search tool for satellite imagery

Terrapattern is an amazing research project originated at the University of Pittsburgh providing a visual search tools for the analysis of satellite imagery. Until now, such tools have only been accessible to intelligence services.

Terrapattern: Case study Berlin
Terrapattern: Football pitches in the Berlin case study

The search engine behind Terrapattern is based on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and will learn, i.e.g improve, over time. You can for example select a church and then, Terrapattern will show all visually similar objects. For now, Terrapattern is only available for selected case studies, ie. Pittsburgh, San Francisco, New York, Detroit, Miami and Berlin!

Apart from the various commercial uses for such a visual search tool, I am excited about the potential for landscape studies. At the tip of a mouse click, Terrapattern will produce a typology of open space forms. You could search for playgrounds, cemetries or specific vegetation patterns! As soon as the tool is available outside of a few selected cities, it could also be used to describe different landscape types, e.g. in landscape character assessment, and make distinct landscape patterns visible.

PhD Funding for green space smartphone App

The PhD is closley linked to the Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature project
The PhD is closley linked to the Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature project

Funding has become available for a PhD, which will investigate whether a smartphone App can encourage people to spend time outdoors.

The PhD, Can a smartphone App promote therapeutic interactions with the natural environment? is closely linked to the three-year Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature research project, which is being led by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape.

The successful applicant will support the development of a smartphone App, evaluate the efficacy of the App as a data collection tool and work closely with project partners to explore the potential for the App as a green prescription.

Based on data collection via the smartphone App, the project aims to answer the following research questions:

• Which types of urban natural environments are most effective in delivering health and wellbeing benefits?
• What level of exposure to natural environments (duration) brings about benefits in health and wellbeing?
• How does quality of experience in nature impact on he benefits?
• How do individual differences and demographics mediate health and wellbeing benefits?
• What are the differing impacts of natural environment exposure on mental health service users and non-users?

Applicants should have minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area or a Masters in a relevant discipline/subject area. Applications are open to UK, EU and international students but University fees will only be waived up to the UK/EU maximum. A stipend starting at £14,296 and rising in line with RCUK rates will be awarded annually.

To find out more please email Director of Research Anna Jorgensen or the PhD supervisor Olaf Schroth

You can apply online via the University’s online system:

Applications will close on 30th June 2016.

Download the PhD advert