Why?   Advancing our capacity to obtain and understand the spatial distributions of key biotic and abiotic environmental factors is a major challenge in predicting the response of ecosystems and their services to climate change. Meeting this challenge requires integrating state of the art field surveys and advanced remote sensing technologies. This can only be achieved in a multidisciplinary way, focusing research efforts of different fields of natural sciences jointly in a same geographic area, so that one component can serve for predicting another. This project aims to tackle this challenge and constitutes a step forward by linking data and models. Models and data in these disciplines are usually acquired and interpreted independently. It thus lies at the interface between plant/vegetation ecology and environmental sciences.

Aims   To use the most recent measurement, remote sensing data and techniques, and spatial modelling approaches to generate new sets of spatially-distributed data that for 1) vegetation, 2) soils, 3) geomorphology and 4) hydrology, providing the basis to improve models in the four above-mentioned fields. This will generate improved climate change predictions for vegetation and hydrological regimes, considering multiple interactions between all ecosystem components. These predictions will be used to assess, in collaboration with a group of stakeholders, how changes in two key ecosystem services – landscape scenic value and water provision – could impact sustainable management and ultimately human well-being.

Methods   The project will be organized in 6 modules: a first module, GeoDataHub, to gather remote sensing and other data and provide methodological support to spatialisation procedures, four core modules for the four investigated fields: GeoVeg, GeoSoil, GeoMorpho, GeoHydro and a sixth module, ES, including workshops with stakeholders, for assessing the effect of climate change on ecosystem service provision. Three nested scales will be considered in the Swiss Western Alps of Canton de Vaud: regional, local and three focus sites. A broad range of data and methods will be used, including: field surveys for geomorphology and soils, a large set of existing data in the study area for vegetation, soils and hydrology, remote sensing images from drones, planes and satellites, advanced GIS analyses and spatial modelling (e.g. dispersal for plants, vegetation dynamics), physically based hydrogeologicalmodelling and advanced geostatistical algorithms.