This year's geo4women scholarship, which is awarded annually by the research group remote sensing, was given to Mengyu Liang. We are happy to share her report on her work and her personal experiences in Vienna:
"My name in Mengyu Liang, and I am a Master’s student studying Cartography at TU-Wien. For this year’s geo4women summer research internship, I proposed to analyze the interactions among three vital environmental factors, flood, soil moisture and vegetation, in Okavango Delta and Caprivi Strip in Southern-central Africa in order to understand how climate change influences this ecosystem through altering these factors. The reason why I was interested in this topic is, in the recent years’ soil moisture anomaly analysis done by the CLIMERS group at TU-Wien using the ASCAT 25-km sensor data, the Okavango Delta has shown frequently in the wetter than normal spectrum, which seemingly misaligns with the general climatic trend. To approach this question, I mainly used the remote sensing products (on water level, water bodies, vegetation, and soil water index) compiled and qualified by the Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS) and the in-situ water level measurements compiled by the Okavango Research Institute. For the analysis, I scripted in R to retrieve, clean and cross-correlate the remote sensing and in-situ datasets. In the end, we concluded with the changing climate, the influence of flood alteration have a different impact on different types of vegetation, and vegetation also responds differently to the change in soil moisture condition, therefore, it confirms the high level of complexity in the Okavango/Caprivi ecosystem.
To conclude my two-month research experience with the Remote Sensing Group, I would describe it as challenging and fulfilling. The challenging side, for me, lies within the fact that I was not familiar with writing scripts to handle remote sensing dataset, as well as within having to work independently to think through problems and compartmentalize one large research question into approachable segments. The fulfillment, of course, relates to the gradual improvement in both of the challenging aspects, through being patient and persistent with coding and reaching out to the colleagues in the group for directions and suggestions. This is to say, for me, this is experience is wonderfully beneficial for my growth into a more independent and resourceful researcher, but the benefit indubitably comes from the challenges.
Beyond work, I also feel very lucky to be able to witness one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Vienna, in its most vibrate time of the year. Almost every day, within my research agenda, I like to utilize my time during the lunch break to explore the exotic eateries around the TU campus and embrace the nice weather through enjoying my lunch and people-watching at the Karlsplatz or other little parks nearby. Over the weekend, I usually go to the Donau Island with some friends or explore other interesting parks or venues, such as the Liechtensteinpark, in Vienna. These off time are also crucial for relaxing the mind and adds more to the Viennese summer experience.
To conclude, I really appreciate this opportunity that the Remote Sensing Group provided. It is such a special experience that encouraged me to think independently like a real researcher but at the same time work with colleagues from various backgrounds to integrate new approaches. I do think it is a worthwhile experience for people who wish to enhance their research abilities and also to be surrounded by the Viennese style of living.
Lastly, I wish to thank Dr. Matthias Schramm and Prof. Wouter Dorigo for their help, support and encouragement throughout the experience!"