Lionel Benoit

Research scientist (chargé de recherche) at INRAE in Biostatistics and Spatial Processes (BioSP) team.


Contact information:

Domaine St. Paul, 228 route de l'Aérodrome, 84914 Avignon (France).



Research interests:

  • Space-time geostatistics.
  • Environmental sensor networks.
  • Hydrometeorology, statistical meteorology, stochastic weather generators.
  • Geomatics (GNSS, GIS, remote sensing).


Research topics:

Orographic rain enhancement in Pacific islands (2020 - today)

Synopsis: This project aims at better understanding how topography and atmospheric circulation interact to generate the steep gradients of precipitation observed in high tropical islands. After identification of the main topo-climatic drivers of orographic rain enhancement, the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a stochastic model able to explore the space-time variability of rainfall over Pacific islands.

Related publications:

  • Benoit L, Lucas M, Tseng H, Huang Y-F, Tsang Y-P, Nugent A, Giambelluca T, Mariethoz G (2021) High space-time resolution observation of extreme orographic rain gradients in a Pacific Island catchment, Frontiers in Earth Sciences: Hydrosphere,


Alpine hydrology (2019 - today)

Synopsis: This project aims at better understanding the impact of summer rains on the streamflow of a small headwater catchment called Vallon de Nant, located in the Western Swiss Alps. One primary objective is to investigate whether high resolution rainfall measurements are usefull for alpine hydrology, in particular in small catchments with steep topography. An additional topic of interest is the study of the very flashy response of the catchment to convective summer rains, and the better understanding of water storage and release within the catchment.  

Related publications:

  • Michelon A, Benoit L, Beria H, Ceperley N, Schaefli B (2021), Benefits from high-density rain gauge observations for hydrological response analysis in a small alpine catchment, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 25, 2301-2325,

  • Beria H, Benoit L, Michelon A, Mariethoz G, Schaefli B (in review), Improving hydrologic model realism by using stable water isotopes, Hydrological processes.


Mapping bird migration from weather radars (2018 - today)

Synopsis: This project aims at quantifying nocturnal bird migration using observations of bird density derived from weather radars. This project is led by Dr. Raphael Nussbaumer ( and I am just giving a hand for data interpolation using space-time geostatistics. Thanks a lot Raphael for giving me the opportunity to work on this nice project, and for sharing your passion for bird watching!

Related publications:

  • Nussbaumer R, Bauer S, Benoit L, Mariethoz G, Liechti F, Schmid B (2021), Quantifying year-round nocturnal bird migration with a fluid dynamics model, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 18, 20210194,

  • Nussbaumer R, Benoit L, Mariethoz G, Liechti F, Bauer S, Schmid B (2019), A geostatistical approach to estimate high resolution nocturnal bird migration densities from a weather radar network, Remote Sensing, 11, 2233,


Stochastic modelling of local rain fields (2015 - 2020)

Synopsis: This project aimed at developing a stochastic model able to capture the main features of rainfall when observed at very high resolution (100 m in space and 1 min in time). This theoretical aspect was coupled with the development of a new rain observation procedure which, when coupled with stochastic interpolation, allowed creating rainfall 'movies' (i.e. space-time reconstructions) over a small alpine catchment.

Related publications:


Glacier flow observation (2012 - 2019)

Synopsis: This project was made of a series of field experiments focusing on leveraging geomatics (GNSS, remote sensing, UAV based photogrammetry, image processing) to map glacier flow both in the Alps (glacier d'Argentière and Gornergletscher) and in Antarctica.

Related publications:

  • Benoit L, Gourdon A, Vallat R, Irarrazaval I, Gravey M, Lehmann B, Prasicek G, Graff D, Herman F, Mariethoz G (2019), A high-resolution image time series of the Gorner Glacier – Swiss Alps – derived from repeated UAV surveys, Earth System Science data, 11, 579-588,
  • Lombardi D, Benoit L, Camelbeeck T, Martin O, Meynard C, Thom C (2016), Bimodal pattern of seismicity detected at the ocean margin of an Antarctic ice shelf, Geophysical Journal International, 206, 1375–1381,
  • Benoit L, Dehecq A, Pham H-T, Vernier F, Trouve E, Moreau L, Martin O, Thom C, Pierrot-Deseilligny M, Briole P (2015), Multi-method monitoring of Glacier d’Argentiere dynamics, Annals of Glaciology, 56, 118-128,


Deformation monitoring using a wireless network of low-cost GPS

Synopsis: This project aimed at developing a GPS positioning software able to perform real-time deformation monitoring in the context of environmental sensor networks. The main challenge was therefore to obtain cm- to mm-level accuracy using low-cost (i.e. single frequency) GPS receivers. The resulting software has been integrated in the Geocube system, which is now operationally used to monitor natural hazards (e.g. landslides, slope instabilities) and man made structures (e.g. dams, bridges).

Related publications:

  • Benoit L, Briole P, Martin O, Thom C, Malet JP, Ulrich P (2015), Monitoring landslide displacements with the Geocube wireless network of low-cost GPS, Engineering Geology, 195, 111-121,
  • Benoit L, Briole P, Martin O, Thom C (2014), Real-time deformation monitoring by a wireless network of low-cost GPS, Journal of Applied Geodesy, 119–128,



Since 2021: Research scientist (chargé de recherche) - INRAE - BioSP.

2020 - 2021: Post-doctoral research fellow (SNSF Early postdoc mobility) - University of Hawai'i [USA] and University of French Polynesia [French Polynesia].

2015 - 2020: Research assistant - University of Lausanne [Switzerland].

2011 - 2014: PhD in Geodesy - French national mapping agency (IGN) and Ecole normale supérieure de Paris [France].

2008 - 2011: MSc in Geomatics - Ecole Nationale des Sciences Géographiques [France].