Postdoctoral Scholar Position on Topographic Change

Jun 19, 2023

The School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University invites applications for a postdoctoral research scholar to work with the US Geological Survey’s Powell Center group on National Topographic Change.

The Powell Center group on National Topographic Change envisions developing a conceptual model for “A National Topographic Change Mapping and Monitoring System” that would enable nationwide assessment of multi-scale 3D changes of the Earth’s surface. The three-dimensional (3D) shape of the Earth is constantly in flux reflecting a variety of processes such as tectonic uplift, river erosion, mass wasting, fire, urbanization, mining, ground water withdrawal, and agricultural practices. The working group is tasked with addressing (1) requirements to prepare analysis-ready data for change detection, (2) change detection algorithms, standards, uncertainty, and (3) the appropriate representation of change over different temporal and spatial scales, and (4) the ideal public-facing interface that researchers and the general public can use to investigate topographic history and change. The Powell Center working group is composed of 15 government and academic scientists with broad expertise in the Earth sciences, geography, and remote sensing.

The scholar’s research activities will be focused on advancing the technological and scientific requirements for a national change monitoring system. Possible projects include: (1) The development and application of an automatic topographic differencing workflow applied to the U.S. Geological Survey 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) topography over a major geographic area of the United States. (2) Century-scale topographic differencing, using aerial photography from as early as the 1930’s, the 1 Arc-second National Elevation Dataset (NED), and multi-temporal lidar topography. (3) Advancing the analysis and computation of uncertainty in topographic differencing results, particularly towards a vision of an automatic spatially variable error calculation.

The postdoctoral scholar will also work with members of the NSF-funded OpenTopography project at ASU, EarthScope, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD. The OpenTopography team will provide mentoring in cyberinfrastructure as well as topographic data collection and processing. The postdoctoral scholar will likely use the OpenTopography platform to prototype new algorithms related to change detection.

Learn more and apply here

The application deadline is July 10, 2023 for full review. Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis for a reserve pool until the position is closed
If you are interested in these positions and have questions please reach out to Chelsea Scott ( or Ramon Arrowsmith (