Plenary sessions


9:00 - 10:00

Network Enabled Research: Not just better or faster but fundamentally different

Cameron Neylon

(Science and Technology Facilities Council, Didcot, United Kingdom)


8:30 - 10:00

Remote Sensing of Mountain Environment – Sate of the Art and outlook

Marc Zebisch

(EURAC.reserch – Institute for Applied Remote Sensing, Bolzano, Italy)

The SEIS role in support of pan-European environmental data sharing

Stefan Jensen

(European Environement Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark)

The Carpathian Convention - a platform for cooperation and interaction between Carpathian science and policy

Harald Egerer

(UNEP – Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, Vienna, Austria)






Network Enabled Research:
Not just better or faster but fundamentally different

Cameron NEYLON

Download the presentation here.

The web is just the latest example of a network that has qualitatively changed what human society is capable of with a limited set of resources. Before the web networks of mobile phones, and before that fixed telephony made qualitatively different forms of social interaction possible. Twenty years ago an impromptu meet up between local friends and someone visiting for a day would have been near to impossible. Today it is trivial. Prior to the telephone the telegraph, postal service, moveable type, the stage coach, and writing itself all created similar changes in human and social capacity.

We are only just beginning to see the first glimmerings of what network enabled research might make possible. Tim Gowers, one of the worlds great mathematicians, described the experience of the PolyMath project compared to his normal approach to mathematics as like a driving is to pushing a car. The level of qualitative change is indicated by the solution of a problem that he regarded as too hard for him to solve within a matter of weeks by a group of mathematicians acting as nodes on a network. Examples can be multiplied but they are single isolated examples. Our research capacity remains similar in practice to what it was in the 1980s. The question must be, for the future of ourselves, and the planet, how can we best exploit the capacity of networks across our research effort. In short: how can we make networks of research resources, people, information, and tools that work. What will they look like? And how do we get there from here?

The path remains at best obscure at the moment but an emerging understanding of how networks function can help to guide the way. The key aspects of an effective network are threefold:

  • The larger and more connected the better: Networks thrive on connectivity. The larger the network and the more connected it is, the greater the opportunity for critical information to reach the right person.
  • The lower the friction the better: Transfer of non-rivalrous resources at speed and with low friction is the most important capacity of a network. Artificially introducing friction, or not acting to reduce friction means effectively breaking connections within the network, reducing its capacity.
  • High information flow requires effective demand-side filtering: A consequence of high network connectivity and low transfer friction means a large quantity of potentially incoming resources to any given node. If that node is a person they won't be able to cope. But filtering at source is creating friction. Therefore the information flow necessitates the design of flexible and configurable filters that can be used to modulate resource flow on the demand side.

What does this mean in practice for scholarly communication? At the moment we have systems set up to reduce connectivity and scale - by limiting access to research resources to limited groups of people - we deliberately create friction in the system due to legacy business models - by charging for distribution and dissemination when these costs are disappearing making the first copy costs the most important to recoup - and we have a system based almost purely on supply side filtering.

In an ideal world we would utilise the (as near as makes no difference) zero cost of dissemination to enlarge the scale and connectivity of our research network by making the content free. We would actively reduce friction to sharing of research resources by focusing business models on the generation of "web ready" content, charging for the first copy costs up front and competing on the basis of the service offering. And in a perfect world we would abandon pre-publication peer review in favour of a model of filtering services that would enable the consumer to decide what they want to see, what quality filters they want applied, and who they trust to apply them. In this world there are many services which currently don't exist but look quite similar to thing that happen in major publishing houses. The question is how to get there from here, ideally without bringing the whole system crashing down around our heads en route.



Remote Sensing of Mountain Environment – Sate of the Art and Outlook


C. Notarnicola, A. Tetzlaff, C. Iasio, C. Steurer, R. Sonnenschein, K. Lewinska,

N. Spindler, A. Polychronaki, S. Schneiderbauer, M. Pettita, B. Venturo, M. Duguay,

R. Monsorno, A. Costa


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In a changing world, environmental monitoring and assessment is a field of growing demand, expressed for instance in rising obligations to report on the status of the environmental system, the request for monitoring climate change impacts or the appraisal of risk to natural hazards. This Talk will present state of the art and outlook on remote sensing as a very useful tool for environmental monitoring of mountain environment.

Satellite data today offers a huge range of scales and sensor types from weather satellites to high resolution radar satellites. Still the most common used sensors are optical sensors. Spatial resolution is usually a tradeoff of temporal resolution and the area covered. While large scale satellites cover whole mountain ranges within one scenes and can provide several acquisitions a day, with finer spatial resolution the coverage shrinks to an image with of 100-200 km at a resolution of 10-30m and a revisit time of several days to a coverage of below 20km at a resolution of 40cm. Latest developments are more spectral bands, new bands, which allow for better classification of vegetation and a higher temporal coverage through wider swath and satellites constellation with more than one satellite. New high resolution Radar Satellites allow Earth observations also under cloudy conditions. With ESA’s new Sentinel family a whole series of new satellites with free data access will be available.

Parallel to new sensors the potential for fast processing and semi-automatic image analysis, classification and interpretation have improved in the last years by introducing techniques like Object Based Classification or Machine Learning Techniques. With Radar Interferometry a total new field of application, the monitoring of terrain movements has emerged.

A few applications of remote sensing in mountain regions may illustrate the capabilities of this technique:

  • Snow Cover monitoring: with optical data based on daily MODIS satellite data an operational snow cover monitoring product which covers the Alps as well as the Carpathians is presented. The data is processed in near real time with a time lag of 2 hours and produced with a resolution of 250m.
  • Snow cover monitoring and soil moisture monitoring with Radar: high resolution X-band as well as C-band data is used to provide weather independent information on snow and soil moisture.
  • Habitat Mapping and Monitoring: NATURA2000 habitats are mapped with multitemporal high resolution RapidEye satellite data. Also conservation status is assessed.
  • Forest Damage Assessment with change detection techniques. Damage after storm events is analyzed with change detection techniques in high detail
  • Mapping of land-slide movement with radar interferometry. Based on high resolution X-Band Radar data by ComoSkyMed movements of a large land slide are studied.

We assume that remote sensing can particular contribute to environmental monitoring when integrated with in-situ data and other techniques such as modeling, making use of the greatest advantage of remote sensing, the area-wide data availability and overcoming the strongest constraint, the “fuzziness” of the data (accuracy, resolution, data gaps).



The SEIS role in support of pan-European environmental data sharing



Download the presentation here.

SEIS, the Shared Environmental Information System, is a European policy initiative which aims to modernize and improve the production, handling and exchange of environmental data and information. It is implemented through the promotion of a set of principles as well as through operational activities around its three pillars governance, content and infrastructure.

The presentation will show the most relevant activities undertaken both on the European level as well as in Member States to progress in the above mentioned areas. Main activities in the governance field include the further strengthening of the European Environment Information and Observation Network as well as the extension of SEIS into the European neighbourhood countries. International links are as well of relevance. On content, there are new assessment frameworks which are supported by SEIS through systematic work on indicators, accounting and ecosystem services. In particular in this area there are strong links to the work of the scientific community.

The SEIS infrastructure makes use of the progressing work on standards and of the latest developments in Internet technologies as well as of the growing importance of crowd sourcing and citizen science. EEA has been engaging very actively in these four areas and examples will be provided to underpin this.

Free access to environmental data and information including data from administrations, citizens, research and space programs is actively promoted by EEA.



The Carpathian Convention - a platform for cooperation and interaction between Carpathian science and policy

Harald Egerer

Download the presentation here.