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Alexander Brenning

Full professor
Universitätsprofessor Dr.
Alexander Brenning


Institut für Geographie
Department of GISsience Group
Room 135 A
Grietgasse 6
07743 Jena

Phone: +49 3641-9-48850
Fax: +49 3641-9-48852
office hours:
Mo 14-16 Uhr

Prof. Dr. Alexander Brenning

Professor of Geographic Information Science

As a quantitative geographer and GIScientist, my research focuses on spatial statistical and computational tools and their application in a variety of contexts, in particular mountain geomorphology and environmental remote sensing. My spatial approach to the assessment of classification and regression methods has been instrumental in a variety of applications and international collaborations mainly related to landslide susceptibility, mountain permafrost distribution and remotely-sensed land cover classification. My mountain permafrost research also involves field studies on the dynamics of rock glaciers in the dry Andes. Driven by my spatial modeling research, I have published free software extensions for the statistical software R that integrate R with GIS software and implement spatial accuracy assessment and variable importance techniques.
My research contributes to the critical problem of developing reliable empirical models of environmental variables as a basis for decision-making in spatial planning and land management. The assessment of model uncertainties is of particular importance and needs to account for the spatial nature of spatial analysis problems. Accessible, open-source implementations of statistical and computational methods are furthermore a prerequisite for the widespread adoption of innovative spatial analysis techniques in different application domains.


I enjoy teaching courses related to geographical information systems and environmental statistics to students of geography and GIScience, from year 1 to the graduate level, in German and in English.

Key research areas

  • Computational statistics and machine learning for geographical research
  • Applied spatial modeling: natural hazards, mountain permafrost, precision agriculture, ecology
  • Cryosphere of the Andes

Curriculum vitae

Curriculum vitae as PDF

since 10/2016 Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena
since 02/2015
Professor of Geographic Information Science, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Supported by the German Scholars Organization / Carl Zeiss Foundation program for German researchers returning to Germany
10/2014 - 02/2015
Interim Professor of Geographic Information Science, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
07/2012 - 08/2015 Associate Professor of Geography/Geomatics, University of Waterloo, Canada
02/2014 - 08/2014 Humboldt Research Fellow, University of Heidelberg (sabbatical)
01/2007 - 06/2012 Assistant Professor of Geography/Geomatics, University of Waterloo, Canada
PhD in Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
2001 Graduation as Diplom-Mathematiker, Technical University of Freiberg, Germany
  For further information please visit my LinkedIn page


I currently serve as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences and director of the undergraduate examinations committee. Until 2014 I was member of Senate of the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Selected Publications

Albuquerque, J. P., Herfort, B., Brenning, A. & A. Zipf (2015). Geographic approach for combining social media and authoritative data towards improving information extraction for disaster management. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, 29(4): 667-689.

Goetz, J.N., Brenning, A., Petschko, H. & Leopold, P. (2015). Evaluating machine learning and statistical prediction techniques for landslide susceptibility modeling. Computers & Geosciences, 81: 1-11.

Brenning, A., Schwinn, M. A.,Ruiz-Páez,  P. & Muenchow, J. (2015). Landslide susceptibility near highways is increased by 1 order of magnitude in the Andes of southern Ecuador, Loja province, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 45-57, doi:10.5194/nhess-15-45-2015.

Zandler, H., Brenning, A. & Samimi, C. (2015). Quantifying dwarf shrub biomass in an arid environment: comparing empirical methods in a high dimensional setting. Remote Sensing of Environment, 158: 140-155. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2014.11.007

Puertas, O.L., Brenning, A. & Meza, F.J.  (2013). Balancing misclassification errors of land cover classification maps using support vector machines and Landsat imagery in the Maipo river basin (Central Chile, 1975-2010). Remote Sensing of Environment, 137: 112-123.

Brenning, A. (2012). Spatial cross-validation and bootstrap for the assessment of prediction rules in remote sensing: the R package 'sperrorest'. 2012 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 23-27 July 2012, p. 5372-5375.

Brenning, A. (2012). Improved spatial analysis and prediction of landslide susceptibility: Practical recommendations. In E. Eberhardt, C. Froese, A. K. Turner & S. Leroueil (eds.): Landslides and Engineered Slopes: Protecting Society through Improved Understanding.  Proceedings of the 11th International and 2nd North American Symposium on Landslides and Engineered Slopes, Banff, Canada, 3-8  June 2012. CRC Press/Balkema, Leiden, The Netherlands; vol. 1, p. 789-794

Boeckli, L., Brenning, A., Gruber,  S. & Noetzli, J.  (2012). A statistical approach to modelling permafrost distribution in the European Alps or similar mountain ranges. The Cryosphere. 6: 125-140

Goetz, J., Guthrie, R. & Brenning, A.  (2011). Integrating physical and empirical landslide susceptibility models using generalized additive models. Geomorphology, 129: 376-386

Azócar, G.F. & Brenning, A.  (2010). Hydrological and geomorphological significance of rock glaciers in the dry Andes, Chile (27°-33°S). Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 21(1): 42-53.

Ruß, G. & Brenning, A.  (2010). Data mining in precision agriculture: Management of spatial information. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6178 LNAI: 350-359


Prof. Dr. Alexander Brenning


Lehrstuhl für Geoinformatik
Room 135 A
Grietgasse 6
07743 Jena

Postal address

Institut für Geographie
Lehrstuhl für Geoinformatik
Löbdergraben 32
07737 Jena

Phone.:  +49-3641-9-48850
Fax.:      +49-3641-9-48852
Office hours
Mon 2-4 pm