TU Wien (Technische Universität Wien) was founded in 1815 (as “k.k. Polytechnisches Institut”), making it the first university of technology in today’s German-speaking world.
TU Wien’s microwave remote sensing (MRS) research group, which contributes to the GFM consortium, is part of the Department for Geodesy and Geoinformation (GEO), which conducts research and teaching in observing, modelling, and communicating geo-scientific states and processes, and has about 100 staff. The MRS focuses on the physical modelling of radar backscatter and the retrieval of soil moisture, water bodies, vegetation, and other geophysical variables from scatterometer and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data.
Their scientific work has paved the ground for several operational soil moisture data services for ASCAT and Sentinel-1 in cooperation with national (e.g. ZAMG, EODC) and international (e.g. EUMETSAT, ECMWF) partners. These data services have been developed and operated within the framework of EUMETSAT’s Satellite Application Facility in Support to Operational Hydrology and Water Management (HSAF), the Copernicus Global Land and Climate Change Services (CGLS and C3S), and the ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI).
In addition to the scientific output in numerous peer-reviewed research articles and conference contributions, most scientific algorithms and satellite data management software developed by the MRS team for scatterometer and SAR data analysis are implemented in various Python libraries, several of which are available as open source on https://github.com/TUW-GEO. The software libraries for ASCAT and Sentinel-1 are designed to allow global and operational processing, and have been deployed on desktop computers, operational systems, cloud platforms and high performance computing environments. The MRS group has led and participated in international research projects funded by ESA and the European Commission.
TU Wien has been one of the initiators and co-founders of the EODC. In addition to being able to use EODC’s Petabyte-scale storage with its stored Sentinel EO data (Sentinel-1: globally all available GRD data; Sentinel-2: globally all available L1C data), its cloud platform, and TU Wien’s super-computing facilities (Vienna Scientific Cluster), the TU Wien MRS group has powerful in-house processing capabilities: they operate an 800 TB Fileserver with a 1 PB robotic tape library, 12 top end working stations, several terminal servers, approximately 80 workstations and a back-up server. The internal network is based upon a Windows Active Directory Domain.
Owing to an intense collaboration with the IT-departments of EODC and TU Wien, the remote sensing research group is experienced in handling large earth observation data volumes and developing software packages for automatic processing.
In terms of related expertise, the experts of TU Wien contribute to the consortium an in-depth knowledge of SAR data processing, building upon a long-standing experience with the European Envisat and Sentinel-1 missions.
With its SAR team focusing on Level-1 data ingestion, processing, aggregation, and the retrieval of geophysical variables feeding into Level-2 products, a strong scientific and technical competence on Sentinel-1 IW and EW mode data has been gained. The pre-processing engine of the SAR Geophysical Retrieval Toolbox (SGRT) – which dates back to 2007 and has been constantly enhanced and adapted – features a near-real-time-capable (NRT) workflow especially tailored for Sentinel-1 input. It integrates the state-of-the-art geocoding and calibration functionalities of ESA’S SNAP Toolbox, as well as an in-house-developed border-noise-removal algorithm and several automated routines for quality-control, resampling and gridding. With the perspective of Big Data entering remote sensing, the spatiotemporal data-cube for raster data based on the Equi7Grid was created in 2014 and is hosted now by EODC, allowing a geometric accurate and efficient handling and storage of massive satellite data volumes.
In addition to the two other thematic key variables soil moisture and vegetation, the mapping and monitoring of water bodies has been the central topic of several research and operation projects of TU Wien. Thanks to the possibility of directly accessing the Sentinel-1 data-cube and analysing the full time series of SAR backscatter at pixel level, the delineation of permanent and seasonal water body extent can be achieved on a global scale.
Most recent research has been conducted on the analysis of temporal and spatial signatures of water bodies to estimate flood frequencies and to detect flood events.
Regarding related experience, the MRS research group of TU Wien has been part of several operational and thematic-related projects:
More information is provided on the TU Wien official web-site.