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Welcome BSc, and MSc students to the Earth Systems Dyanimcs research group. Our group is composed of about 40 students, postdocs, and staff. We conduct research on a wide range of topics and regularly supervise about 5-10 BSc and MSc students per year. All students select topics where we have other students or research staff working on similar problems, so that there is a "Team Learning" approach. Regardless of if you like applying concepts in chemistry, math/physics, GIS, or biology in your studies - we most likely have a topic of interest for you below.

In the following, we provide a list of general topics that are available for either BSc or MSc thesis. The topics are organized by general research themes in our group. If some of these topics interest you, then please schedule a meeting with the appropriate advisor to discuss it further and see if the fit is right for you. Please note that a wide range of skills/tools are used in our group. We also welcome and support students bringing their own ideas for a thesis topic and provide help applying for a scholarship (e.g. DAAD-Scholarschip).

Additional information about our group and how we're organized is available thorugh this Wiki or through our group web page (http://www.esdynamics.org). The "Welcome" link in the column to the right provides additional informatoin about how our group operates, and our expectations. We hope to see you soon!

 

Your supervisors:

supervisor list


Tectonics Research Topics

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Topic: Exploring geomorphic responses to basic fault geometries at mountain range scale in numerical and natural landscapes over geologic time scales (MSc level)

Earth's surface represents the interface between multiple processes, e.g., erosion modulated by climate and tectonic motion. The aim of this study is to systematically explore and quantify the geomorphic response to basic fault geometries (normal, reverse and transcurrent) in natural and model landscapes over geologic time scales. The results of this study will improve our understanding of the main drivers that shape present-day landscapes.   

Skills learned: aquisition and application of theoretical background on the evolution of landscapes (i.e., mechanisms of surface processes and bedrock motion along active faults), establishing fault kinematics in MOVE, setting up numerical landscape evolution models in Landlab, quantitative geomorphic analysis of natural and numerical landscapes in MATLAB and ArcGIS, (optional) thermochronologic modelling based on modelled fault kinematics and landscapes

AbstractFigure


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Topic: Reconstructing the tectonic history of the Eastern Alps along the EASI (Eastern Alpine Seismic Investigation) geophysical transect (BSc level).

Skills learned: Literature review of available geologic, geophysical and thermochronological data along the EASI transect. Merging the different datasets into GIS or MOVE and reconstruct the tectonic history. 


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Topic: Reconstructing the tectonic history of the Central Alps along the NFP-20E geophysical transect (BSc level).

Skills learned: Literature review of available geologic, geophysical and thermochronological data along the NFP-20E transect. Merging the different datasets into GIS or MOVE and reconstruct the tectonic history. 


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Topic: Timing of tectonic uplift and glacial erosion in southeast Norway (Msc or smaller version of it for a BSc).

Skills learned: Literature review of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic geologic history of Norway. Application of low-temperature thermochronology laboratory dating techniques (miscroscopy and geochemistry) to measure the cooling history of rocks exposed across glacially carved fjords of SE Norway. Application of GIS for plotting sample locations and topography.


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Topic: Tectonic activity of Pyrenees Mountains, Spain (BSc).

Skills learned: Literature review of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic geologic history of the Pyrenees and compilation of low-temperature thermochronology and magnetostratigraphy data from the region. Results will be integrated into a GIS project and interpreted.


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Topic: Analysis of earthquake history along the Patagonian Andes, South America (BSc).

Skills learned: Literature analysis of past earthquakes in southern South America and extraction of past earthquakes from global data bases. Plotting of results in GIS and analysis of events for the tectonic causes of different events and plotting of results along different profiles.


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Topic: Tectonic history of the Patagonian Andes, South America (BSc topic).

Skills learned: Literature review and synthesis of the major Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic events in the Patagonian Andes. Knowledge of plate tectonic and magmatic history will be learned. Applicaiton of GIS software to make tectonic and geologic maps of the region.


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Topic: Exhumation at the intersection of differently striking orogens: Patagonian Andes and Fuegian Andes (MSc topic).

Skills learned:  Lab work (thermochronology), compilation of existing data, GIS to create maps, thermal modeling, regional geology of southernmost South America, exhumation, (glacial) erosion


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Topic: Orocline formation: How do continental margins bend? A literature study with focus on the western South American margin: Bolivian and Patagonian oroclines (BSc topic)

Skills learned: literature research, working independently, data compilation, creation of GIS databases and maps, structural geology


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Topic: Literature based study on orogenic sedimentary basins of the Andes: When and how did they form and what are their characteristics? (BSc topic, 2 case studies: Central Andes, South Peru, and Patagonian Andes, southern Patagonia)

Skills learned: data compilation from literature, creation of maps with GIS (especially sediment isopach maps), basin formation and inversion


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Topic:  Literature based study on the fault activity of southern Chile (South Patagonia) due to oblique subduction (BSc topic)

Skills learned: literature research, working independently, GIS and graphics programs to create databases and maps, structural geology, regional geology, measurement and dating methods of fault activity


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Topic: Assessment of different Tibetan Plateau uplift scenarios based on Bayesian integration of d18O records and  climate model based topography experiements. (MSc)

Skills learned: Literature review and synthesis on Tibetan Plateau palaeoaltimetry, original programming and editing existing scripts (Python and/or Fortran, and NCL) to implement a multivariate statistical assessment of the problem.


Glaciology Research Topics

 glaciology

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Topic: Simulating the dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, in particular the transition between the grounded ice sheet and the floating ice shelves around the Antarctic perimeter (Msc). We will be using a finite element model to simulate the evolution of ice-shelf channels in 3D, thereby adressing the question of ice-shelf stability and abrupt changes in sea level rise.

Skills learned: Numerical modelling with finite elements (Elmer/Ice); supercomputing; shell-scripting; python and/or matlab; unix; solving systems of differential equations. These skils are easily transferable and will provide a strong, quantitative, and rigorous background for other scientific/applied problems.

 


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Topic: Geophysical analysis of radar profiles collected over Antarctica (BA or MSc). Scientific questions addressed include unravelling the atmospheric-,oceanic, and dynamic history by analysing the internal stratigraphy. Analysis may include application of ice-flow models.

Skills learned: Geophysical processing and 3D visualization; shell scripting; matlab/python. These skils are transferable and provide a quantitative, and rigorous background for other problems.


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Topic: Processing and analysis of existing, kinematic and static GPS data mapping topography in Antarctica (Bsc). This includes crossing-over analysis, offset/tidal corrections, and differential processing of a large dataset collected over a five-year time period. Scientific questions addressed include temporal surface elevation changes which can be linked to mass budget methods and thus to changing sea levels.

Skills learned: GPS processing, GIS, and other quantitiatve, (geo-)statistical methods. These skills are easily transferable and will provide a solid mathematical/computational baseline for advanced scientific/applied problems.

 


Surface Processes Research Topics

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Bozdag mountain - , Izmir

Topic: Modelling the evolution of internal basins at high elevations in the Bozdag tectonic region, Central Menders massif (MSc).

Skills learned: GIS (Geomorphic analysis with ArcGis and Matlab), Original programming and editing existing scripts (hillslope and river profile modelling with strong contrasts in uplift and bedrock erodibilities using Child or Matlab), Interpreting analytical data (cosmogenic nuclide and thermochronological data).

 

 

 



Bildergebnis für Phantom 4 pro

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Topic: Quantifying Earth surface processes with photogrammetry (Drone images and Structure-from-Motion) (BSc)

Skills learned: Flying a drone, creating high-resolution digital surface models, data interpretation, creation of maps using GIS, detected changes and estimate rates of Earth surface changes, such as river dynamics, snow and vegetation cover

 


 

Endeavour Crater, Mars; NASA/JPL-CaltechSupervisor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Topic: Modelling dry rockfall runout and erosion processes on Mars (Bsc, Msc)

Skills learned: Processing and analysing Martian topography data (e.g., GIS, Matlab, R, Cloudcompare), applying a cellular dry gravel transport and erosion model (R or Matlab)

 


 

Terrestrial laser scanner in a bedrock gorgeSupervisor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Topic: Assessing spatial sediment-driven bedrock erosion processes in rock gorges using terrestrial laser scanning (Msc)

Skills learned: Surveying a bedrock gorge using terrestrial laserscanning (fieldwork with a LiDAR device), analysing large 3D data sets regarding topographic change, interpreting data regarding sediment dynamics


 

Erlenbach creekSupervisor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Topic: Spectral analysis of fluvial bedload transport in a pre-alpine creek (Msc)

Skills learned: Application of spectral analysis on a temporally highly resolved data set of fluvial discharge and bedload transport, assessment of streambed evolution processes

 


Climate/Paleoclimate Research Topics

stnd_e5_tbt_e010_Temperature.jpg https://www.dkrz.de/mms/images/gallery/HLRE3/Mistral_Phase2_storage.jpg LGMclusters.jpg

Note: These are just a few examples of possible projects to give you an idea of the scope of climatological research you could be involved in. You're encouraged to contact the listed supervisors if you have questions, concerns or even ideas regarding these projects.


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Topic: Local-scale estimates of Late Cenozoic and/or future temperature changes in South America based on dynamical statistical models (MSc).
You will use statistical models in combination with climate simulations produced by full General Circulation Models to estimate local changes in climate from the Late Cenozoic to the future.

Skills learned: Original programming and editing existing scripts (python) to modify and apply dynamical statistical models, literature analysis, and you will develop a deeper understanding of atmospheric dynamics and multivariate statistics.


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Topic: Prediction of Chilean local precipitation response to large-scale atmospheric drivers using Generalised Linear Models (GLM's) (MSc).
You will use GLM's to predict the local precipitation response to climate change in Chile. Such predictions are essential for policy makers in face of ongoing climate change.

Skills learned: Original programming and modifying existing programmes (python and/or Fortran).  You will learn about multivariate statistics, weather forecasting and atmosphere dynamics in Chile.


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Topic: Estimating the atmospheric controls on glaciers with short and intermittent mass balance records: Solving the climate integration problem with statistical forward modelling and Bayesian inference (MSc).
It is difficult to estimate how climate controls glaciers for which only short or intermittent mass balance records are available, because the climate signal in glacier response is integrated over the measurement gaps. This thesis will take a first big step in solving that problem.

Skills learned: Original programming and modifying existing programmes (python and/or Fortran).  You will learn about multivariate frequentist and Bayesian statistics, statistical forecasting and glacier-atmosphere dynamics.


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Topic: Crossing the thresholds: Modelling non-linear glacier response to climate change by using game theory and Bayesian glacier regime selection (MSc).
With the rapid, ongoing climate change, many glaciers experience a regime shift, resulting in threshold behaviour. Using game theory and Bayesian model selection, you will turn existing models into an intelligent model that is able to dynamically select the most appropriate algorithms for glacier change prediction.

Skills learned: Original programming and modifying existing programmes (python and/or Fortran).  You will learn about objective decision making (using game theory), multivariate Bayesian statistics, statistical modelling and glacier-atmosphere dynamics.


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Topic: Predicting the precipitation response to 21st century climate change in the Ammer catchment using Generalised Linear Models (GLM's) (MSc).
Microplastic concentration in the Ammer directly correlates with discharge and precipitation. You will therefore generate local predictions of precipitation for the 21st century that will in turn be used to estimate regional microplastic pollution.
(Note: This will happen in collaboration with Christiane Zarfl of the Environmental Systems Analysis research group for coupling your results to the Ammer sediment transport model.)

Skills learned: Original programming and modifying existing programmes (python and/or Fortran).  You will learn about multivariate statistics, weather forecasting and atmosphere dynamics in Central Europe.


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Topic: Downscaling of precipitation in mountainous terrain using a specialised orographic precipitation model (MSc).
Predicting precipitation in mounainous regions is a weakness of most climate models. In this thesis, you will implement a low-cost orographic precipitation model based on linear theory of precipitation, and will apply it to climate model output to generate high resolution estimates of rainfall. This is an important advancement for both geomorphologists and for mountain communities facing the effects of climate change.

Skills learned: Original programming and editing existing scripts (Fortran) to (re)implement and apply the model to high elevation terrain and validate it with weather station data. You will develop a deeper understanding of governing factors of local-scale orographic precipitation and advance programming skills.


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Topic: Application of Bayesian decision models and machine learning for downscaling climate in mountainous terrain (MSc).
Predicting precipitation in mounainous regions is a weakness of most climate models. In this thesis, you will develop and employ a Bayesian  decision model to downscale climate in mountainous terrain. This is an important advancement for both geomorphologists and for mountain communities facing the effects of climate change.

Skills learned: Original programming and editing existing scripts (python or Fortran) to implement, apply and evaluate the models in high elevation terrain. You will develop a practical understanding of Bayesian decision theory and advance programming skills.


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Topic: Estimates of Pleistocene and Mid-Holocene glacial extent in South America based on dynamical statistical models (MSc).
You will use already developed dynamical statistical models in combination with palaeoclimates simulations to estimate the past evolution of mountain glaciers in South America. This will provide important context for the geomorphology and tectonics communities investigating the uplift and erosion of the Andes.

Skills learned: Original programming and editing existing scripts (python) to modify and apply statistical dynamical atmosphere-glacier models, literature analysis, and you will develop a deeper understanding of atmospheric dynamics, multivariate statistics and atmosphere-cryosphere interactions.


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Topic: Critical evaluation of CMIP5 model simulations (BSc).

Skills learned: Data management with python and creating maps with existing scripts (NCAR Command Language), literature analysis, and you will get an overview of climate models and simulations carried out in the field of (modern) climate change research and common signals.


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Topic: Critical evaluation of ECHAM5 paleoclimate experiments and PMIP3 simulations for the Late Cenozoic (MSc/BSc).

Skills learned: Data management with python and creating maps with existing scripts (NCAR Command Language), literature analysis, and you will get an overview of different palaeoclimate research and modelling initiatives, the model uses and limitations in the field of palaeoclimate research, and climatic conditions at different times in the Cenozoic.


Geologic Modeling Research Topics

model 1 examplemodel 2 example

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Topic: Analysis of the topographic and tectonic history fo the Patagonian Andes. (MSc)

Skills learned: Use of existing thermal-kinematic tectonic models to evaluate the tectonic and glacial erosion controls on the thermal field of the Patagonian andes. Research will involve conducting simulations with different parameter choices tectonic and topographic relief changes, plotting and interpreting results. Project involves learning how to write shell scrips and run simulations on super compters.


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Topic: Software development for the simulation of mountain bulding with a thermal kinematic model. (Bsc or MSc)

Skills learned: Project involves programming in Fortran to modify and existing program (Pecube) to output and plots computer simulations in different state of the art visualization software packages. Research involves learning how to run simulatons of the thermal evoltion of mountain ranges and plot / interpret reslts.


Geologic Hazards Research Topics

 Hazards photos

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Topic: Measurement of rock fall activity in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, using laser scanning (LiDAR). (MSc)

Skills learned: Field work (LiDAR, drones) and data analysis with remote sensing software and matlab. Research would involved scanning of large rock walls and calculating the volume and frequency of rock fall activity, as well as the climate, lithologic, hydrologic, and vegetation controls on rockfall activity.


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Topic: Analysis of triggers for rock fall activity in deglaciated mountain environments (BSc).

Skills learned: Literature analysis for the frequency and magnitude of rock fall events from different techniques (LiDAR, drones) applied to mountain lanscapes (e.g. Alps and elsewehere). Compilation of results into tables and GIS software and analysis of results to detemrine appropriate timescale of measurements needed to reliable characterize rockfall activity.


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Topic: How to scan a rock wall - comparing methods and test their feasibility, accuracy and precision in the Lauterbrunnen valley, Switzerland (MSc).

Skills learned: Terrestrial LiDar analysis (scanning of a rock wall and interpreting results), photogrammetry ('structure-from-motion' analysis of a large set of photographs from drones).


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Topic: Analysis of rockfall relationships to seismic activity in Central Asia (MSc or BSc).

Skills learned: Analysis of a data base of rockfall events in Central Asia and active Quaternary fault locations.  Compilation of new rockfall events from literature and entering them into a data base.  Plotting results in GIS, statistical analysis of spatial and temporal variaitons in rock fall activity in relationship to earthquakes.


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Topic: Establishing correlation between rockfall and parameters such as fracture density, hydrology and climatic parameters in the Lauterbrunnen valley, Switzerland. (MSc)

Skills learned: Analysis of laser scanning data (LiDAR) collected from different field campaigns for climate and lithologic controls on rock fall occurance. Use of GIS software for plotting results. Program development (Python or Fortran) for statistical tools to analize rockfall activity.


Geo- Thermo-chronology Research Topics

Laser

CT image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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        Topic: Tectonic thermochronology along the NFP-20E or EasternAlps profile (MSc).

Skills learned: Sampling (field work in the Alps), mineral separation (apatite and zircon separation from sampled rocks), thermochronology (dating apatite and zircon with the (U-Th)/He method), literature analysis.


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Topic: Resolving the spread in single grain (U-Th)/He ages with Micro-CT analysis (MSc).

Skills learned: Mico-CT analysis (preparation and interpretation of Mirco-CT analysis), Thermochronology (apatite or zircon (U-Th)/He dating), Editing existing scripts (Matlab).


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Topic: Detrital thermochronology (apatite U-Th-Sm)/He), comparison between modern and past (time of Antarctic Cold Reversal) erosion patterns in Southern Patagonian catchments (moraine samples 18PG35, 18PG45, 18PG46) (MSc)

Skills learned: lab work (mineral picking, packing for He and U-Th-Sm measurements), interpretation of cooling ages/provenance signal, modelling of distribution of erosion in (de)glaciated catchments using Matlab, GIS, literature research


Biology and Surface Processes Research Topics

 

bio surface proc photos

 

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Topic: Quantifying the long-term erosion of South Africa with cosmogenic nuclides (MSc).

Tiefenlinienerosion in der Karoo, Südafrika

Skills learned: Field work and sampling in South Africa (3 weeks in March 2020). Working in a international collaborative project (SALDi - South Africa Land Degradation Monitor). Learning to quantify erosion rates with cosmogenic nuclides and GIS. Work would include sampling in the field, analysis in the laboratory and GIS-based interpretation of the analytical data.


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Topic: Analysis of the control of Andes mountain bulding on South American Biodiverity (BSc or MSc).

Skills learned: Combinatoin of literature analysis and spatial analysis of data in GIS. Work would include compliation of biodiversity datasets (past and present) and a synthesis of the tectonic history to determine how biodiversity responds to the development of large mountain ranges and climate change.


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Topic: Analysis of the control of the Tibetan Plateau on southeast Asia Biodiverity (BSc or MSc).

Skills learned: Combinatoin of literature analysis and spatial analysis of data in GIS. Work would include compliation of biodiversity datasets (past and present) and a synthesis of the tectonic history to determine how biodiversity responds to the development of large mountain ranges and climate change.


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Topic: Burrowing mammals, birds, and insects along a climate and ecological gradient in Chile.  Spatial distribution and depth of burrowing (BSc)

Skills learned: Combinatoin of literature analysis and spatial analysis of data in GIS. Work would include determining the spatial density of different animals an insects and the possible magnitudes of material moved by them on hillslopes.


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Topic: Mechanics of bioturbation in soils: An investigation into the depth, frequency, seasonality, and climate controls on mass redistribution by animals. (MSc or BSc)

Skills learned: Combinatoin of literature analysis and spatial analysis of data in GIS or Matlab. Software would be used to document how fast and how thoroughly insects and animals mix soil and effect chemical weathing and nutrient supply in soils.


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Topic: Comparison of observed animal burrow size and depth in Germany with Chile. (MSc)

Skills learned: Combination of literature analysis and field work (Deutschland).  Measurement of animal and insect burrows on hillslopes.


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Topic: Investigating the effect of different vegetation types on topography and erosion with a landscape evolution computer model (MSc or BSc).

Skills learned: Landscape evolution modeling with the Landlab software.  Software exists and student would be conducting simualtions for different choices in vegetation cover, and analizing results.


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Topic: Geophysical (Ground Penetrating Radar) investigation into daily variations in water storage and use in plants and soil. (MSc)

Skills learned: Field work and literature analysis.  Field work would involve collecting ground penetrating radar data on trees and neighboring soil to measure daily and seasonal variaitions in water content.


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Topic: GIS and remote sensing analysis of modern vegetation differences along an ecological gradient in the Patagonian Andes. (BSc or MSc)

Skills learned: Combination of GIS, remote sensing, and literature analysis. Work would involve plotting different remote sensing data sets for seasonal changes in vegetation and photosynthetic activity.  Plotting and interpreting results.


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Topic: Glacial and vegetation history of the Patagonian Andes over the last 21,000 years (BSc or MSc)

Skills learned: Combination of literature analysis and GIS.  Research would involved compiling information for vegetation changes over glacial-interglacial cycles.  Compiled data sets would be plotted in GIS or remote sensing software and interpreted for how variations in climate and ice cover influence vegetation change.