GIS and Science Technology Trends

gis_scienceGIS technology supports many crucial aspects of scientific research and analysis. While many GIS applications have traditionally focused on creating inventories of the natural and cultural environment, GIS is increasingly being used to create new knowledge and insight based on spatial analysis and modeling. Of particular value to practitioners in the social, biological, and earth science communities, GIS has the ability to bring together multiple datasets and help us understand complex systems that have a significant spatial component.

GIS analysis and modeling are key to solving the critical problems of our time such as

  • Global climate change
  • Prudent use of energy
  • Sustainability of natural resources
  • Equitable planning of new and transportation systems
  • Improving efficiency across the globe

The increasing availability of more sophisticated and high-quality GIS tools enables much wider use of analytic tools and modeling approaches.

Using GIS to combine disparate datasets helps scientists model complex scenarios and test multiple hypotheses. And because the technology is widely used in government and other organizations, GIS can connect scientific research and analysis with policy makers and help make a persuasive case to act responsibly to solve the critical problems facing society and the environment.

Current GIS technology development continues to move spatial modeling and analysis tools to the next level. Coming GIS technology enhancements that will benefit the work of scientists include

  • New 3D vector analysis tools
  • Expanded graphing and data exploration functionality
  • New techniques for site suitability analysis

GIS Modeling Advances Studies of Late Holocene Hunter-Gatherers on the Columbia River Plateau

settlement…from ArcNews

Archaeologists have determined that by 2,500 years BP (before present), a subsistence-settlement strategy called the winter village pattern was widely established among hunter-gatherers on the Columbia River Plateau in northwest North America. In this strategy, hunter-gatherers dispersed into smaller groups during spring through fall as they collected food resources in bulk quantities for winter consumption. During winter, they aggregated in larger groups at permanent villages situated in low-elevation riverine environments, where they subsisted on stored food supplies augmented by hunting and fishing.

A Baseline GIS Assessment for Long Caye, Belize

serviceatsea…from The GIS Institute and Service At Sea

In Belize, we have been assisting the family that owns 600 acre Long Caye, the largest landmass on Lighthouse Reef Atoll, about 75k off the coast. The atoll is one of only four in the western hemisphere, and it is part of the Mesoamerican Reef System, the second largest reef system in the world. Lighthouse Reef is far from population centers and other landmasses, making it a very unique place to study coral reef conditions, as well as mangrove and terrestrial ecosystems. Most of the influences on this remote atoll are already in “in the global soup”, both in the oceans and in the atmosphere.

Over the last year, we’ve collected baseline data, both on the reef and on land, and we’ve begun a public / private partnership with landowners on Long Caye to preserve the most sensitive places in this ecosystem. As in many projects like this, we wanted satellite imagery to get started with, and GeoEye came through with a fine IKONOS image on November 17 of last year. Since then we’ve been using GPS to record our exploration of the area, while also delineating a preserve, trails, littoral and mangrove forests, the hydrologic features, and the human activities and structures. No snakes, thank goodness, but there are American Crocodile, who are quite shy, and would rather not be seen.

More updates on this project forthcoming – we are wrapping-up the database design now, and finishing the initial baseline mapping exercise. We are developing strategies to run mapping and science-based education and volunteer programs on Long Caye this fall and winter – stand-by for more information.