Being a young researcher in environmental sciences I had to face two inevitable truths: at first, my data – enormously large data sets of uncountable dimensions, acquired on an odd-shaped ellipsoid and somehow projected onto 2-D. At second, my colleagues – interesting people who are lots of fun to work with. Let me extend on the second a little.

Patrick Hostert, head of the Geomatics Lab at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and advisor of this work, accompanied me during most of my remote sensing career. His feedback to my work was always valuable and honest, the outcome of discussions fruitful, and his advice was an important guideline. These were essential drivers for me to take up and – more important – to finish this dissertation.

For the past two years I was fortunate to work in two research groups. At the Geomatics Lab in Berlin it was always interesting, exciting, and enjoyable to work with my colleagues Ellen Diermayer, Frank Ebermann, Oliver Grübner, Simone Hofmann, Katja Janson, Jan Knorn, Tobias Kümmerle, Tobia Lakes, Magdalena Main, Ruth Sonnenschein and Magdalena Zwijacz-Kozica, or with students such as Patrick Griffiths, Mirjam Langhans and Thomas Scheuschner – the group has grown so big that it's a problem to write more than this simple list of names. Nevertheless I want to point out Alexander Damm for the many hours we jointly spent on processing HyMap data and on measuring in the field. Many times it was his endurance and cooperative way that kept me going. Andreas Janz introduced me to support vector machines and much of this work would not have been possible without his skills and great effort.


At the same time, I'd like to thank Matthias Braun, Gunter Menz and Walter Kühbauch for giving me the opportunity to join the team at the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces in Bonn. I've spent so many good times in- and outside the office with Vanessa Heinzel, Jonas Franke, Ellen Götz, Jan Jacobi, Roma Petravicute, Nora Schneevoigt, Torsten Welle, my former office mates Roland Goetzke, Albert Moll and Christof Weissteiner, and all others involved in remote sensing at Bonn University.

There are many nice people I met during my ten-year career in remote sensing and I particularly want to thank

Björn Waske and Benjamin Kötz – once fellow undergrad students, now colleagues, co-authors, proof-readers and two of my very best and most important friends. I hope that one day we will learn to talk a little less about remote sensing while having time off.


Achim Röder, Thomas Udelhoven, Joachim Hill and others in Trier for introducing me to remote sensing during my times as an undergraduate and the good cooperation ever since.

Chris Small for giving me the opportunity to spend time at Columbia University and for being external advisor of this work. Field work in the East New York neighborhood is far more exciting than on the streets of Berlin-Mitte.

Hermann Kaufmann for taking over as external advisor of this work and being member of the scientific committee, Gunnar Nützmann for being head of the committee, and


Uwe Rascher and Michael Eiden for the good cooperation and hopefully for more joint field campaigns in the Bordeaux region.

I am especially grateful to the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) that funded me during my time as a PhD student. It was always fun to spend time at seminars with my fellow stipends and the people from the Osnabrück office. I would also like to thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for covering the cost of my stay at Columbia University, New York.

This work was co-funded by Berlin friends and colleagues such as Henrike Grundmann, Carl Jan Keuck, Jan Kürschner or Michael Schwarz who hosted me during my many visits.


Fortunately, there are also people who do not talk about science all day and night long and I really appreciate the effort of all the good friends and nice neighbors in Bonn and Berlin to make the past years so joyful.

This leads me to the few even more important people. I will always be thankful to my dear parents Karin and Wilhelm Schiefer, to my sister Susanne and brother Philipp with their families, and – most of all – my wife Anna and son Johann for their trust, the everlasting support, and simply being there. I am sure they are just as happy that I am done.

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