Planet Action Grants: Submit your Project by September 30, 2009

planetactionlogoPlanet Action provides satellite imagery, geographic information and technology support to local projects that investigate and assess climate change issues focusing on human issues, drought & desertification, water resources, forestry, biodiversity, oceans, ice, and awareness.

This year, Planet Action will support additional projects while following up on current projects and their results on the ground.

Submit your project by September 30, 2009.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

Planet Action supports projects involved at least in one of the following domains:

  • Awareness
  • Biodiversity & Conservation
  • Drought & Desertification
  • Human Issues
  • Forest & Deforestation
  • Ice & Snow
  • Oceans & Coastlines
  • Water Resources

To be eligible for support from Planet Action, projects must:

  • Deal with a climate change related issue and propose a course of actions.
  • Deal with at least one of the Planet Action “domains”.
  • Have a member of the organization who resides in the country where the project takes place or at least during the duration of the projects
  • Be proposed by a non-profit organization such as NGO’s, a public laboratory or a university.
  • Confirm that the project has no commercial, religious or ideological content or objective.

More information

New Version of ArcGIS Explorer Now Available

ArcGIS Explorer Makes It Easy to Share Geographic Information with a Broad Audience

ESRI’s newest release of ArcGIS Explorer became available for free download today, providing a highly visual and intuitive way to explore, share, and present your geographic information. It is an ideal means of making your authoritative geographic information system (GIS) data available to people who are not GIS experts.

ArcGIS Explorer is a GIS visualization tool that connects directly to a variety of ready-to-use ArcGIS Online basemaps and layers and enables users to add their own map services or local data. It can also be extended with users’ existing geoprocessing tools. ArcGIS Explorer is designed to work directly with maps and layers authored using ArcGIS Desktop and published via ArcGIS Server or shared using layer packages.

“This release introduces some very big features,” says Bern Szukalski, ArcGIS Explorer product manager. “We’re always learning from users what they want and need, and we have incorporated some compelling new features as a result. These include the ability to access shared maps, layers, and tools directly from ArcGIS Online; support for layer packages that enable ArcGIS Explorer to leverage state-of-the-art ArcGIS Desktop cartography; the ability to use maps in 2D or 3D; and presentation tools that let users share their geographic knowledge and communicate geographically.”

ArcGIS Explorer now has an intuitive and easy-to-use ribbon interface, giving users the ability to manage and organize tools and content. New tools provide an easy way to tailor applications to specific audiences or needs. Also included is a new integrated 2D and 3D display, which makes switching between 2D and 3D modes as simple as a mouse click.

Developers can use the software development kit (SDK) to build custom add-ins to extend the ArcGIS Explorer capabilities. Users can access continually updated basemaps and layers from ArcGIS Online, including Bing Maps for Enterprise imagery, streets, and hybrid layers. The new version also includes improved support for KML/KMZ files and “regionated” KML.

Since presentations are an important part of conveying ideas, this version of ArcGIS Explorer includes new presentation tools. Users can now create compelling slide shows within the ArcGIS Explorer environment. The tools allow presenters to pan, zoom, and interact with maps and data in a visually dynamic way.

To download ArcGIS Explorer, visit Users outside the United States should contact their ESRI international distributor (

Using GIS and Satellites to Study Lyme Disease

uab-logoSix University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) students and two students from other universities are using satellite imagery to identify possible habitats in Alabama for the black-legged tick that carries and transmits Lyme disease.

The students are interns with the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center DEVELOP Program. DEVELOP is a competitive internship in which students work with NASA and partner-agency scientists to carry out innovative research projects.

GeoTech 2009 Conference: October 5–6, Silver Spring, Maryland USA

prThe Potomac Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing is pleased to announce the 16th annual GeoTech: The Premiere Mid-Atlantic Imagery and Geospatial Conference, exploring “Geospatial Infrastructure: Looking to the Future” on October 5-6, 2009.  The two-day event features a day of Workshops led by experts and a day of Technical Sessions.  Co-hosted by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), GeoTech 2009 will be held at NOAA’s Auditorium and Science Center in Silver Spring, MD.

The GeoTech 2009 Conference will provide workshops covering Terrain Mapping, Fundamentals of Automated Feature Extraction (AFE), Accessing and Processing Public Domain Landsat Data, and An Overview of Airborne and Terrestrial Data Sources for Disaster Response.  The Technical Program will include sessions on Coastal Mapping Applications, Sensors and Systems, and Spotlight on Emerging Issues.

Mr. Ernie Reith, Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) InnoVision Directorate, will give the Keynote address.

Continuing Education Credits will be offered for those professionals requiring recertification.

Representatives from the Geospatial industry will be on-hand to exhibit their latest tools and offerings.

Details, registration, and contact info are available at: registration ends Noon EST 2nd October 2009.

Sick Fish May Get Sicker: Climate Change and Other Stresses Expected to Affect Entire Populations of Fish

Entire populations of North American fish already  are being affected by several emerging diseases, a problem that threatens to increase in the future with climate change and other stresses on aquatic ecosystems, according to a noted U.S. Geological Survey researcher giving an invited talk on this subject today at the Wildlife Disease Association conference in Blaine, Wash.

“A generation ago, we couldn’t have imaged the explosive growth in disease issues facing many of our wild fish populations,” said Dr. Jim Winton, a fish disease specialist at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center.  “Most fish health research at that time was directed toward diseases of farmed fish.”

In contrast, said Winton, recent studies in natural aquatic systems have revealed that, in addition to being a cause of natural death, infectious and parasitic fish diseases can produce significantly greater mortality in altered habitats leading to population fluctuations, extinction of endangered fish, reduced overall health and increased susceptibility to predation.

In addition, said Winton, populations of certain fish species have suffered catastrophic losses after non-native diseases were first introduced into a water body. Examples include whirling disease in the intermountain west and the recent introduction of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in the Great Lakes.

“The scientific community is increasingly concerned that global trade, extensive habitat alteration, accumulations of contaminants and other human-caused stresses stressors, including climate change, will affect the distribution or severity of fish diseases and contribute to increasing population-scale losses in these important natural resources,” Winton said.

Disease is often ignored as a factor affecting wild populations of fish and wildlife because the effects are difficult to observe and quantify, noted Winton. But as cold-blooded animals, fish are highly dependent on environmental conditions, especially temperature, to help maintain critical physiological processes such as immune function that can affect whether a fish gets a disease or parasite, how it is affected by it, and how the disease progresses.

In particular, said Winton, some fish – such as salmon, trout and muskellunge – have a fairly narrow range of water temperatures they can live in.  “If that temperature is exceeded over a period of time, not only may die-offs occur, but also, the increased stress and altered immune function will lead to greater levels of infectious or parasitic diseases which is why global warming is of particular concern.

Winton said that increased scientific recognition of fish diseases as a potential population-limiting factor in wild populations of fish is partly the result of the emergence of high-profile diseases such as whirling disease in wild-spawning rainbow trout in the Rocky Mountain West, viral hemorrhagic septicemia in the North Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes, and a fungal-like disease, ichthyophoniasis, in adult Chinook salmon in the Yukon River.

The 58th annual meeting of the Wildlife Disease Association (WDA) was held August 2-7, 2009, in Blaine, Wash. The theme was Wildlife Health from Land to Sea: Impacts of a Changing World. This press release was based on a paper being presented on Aug. 3 at the conference  by USGS scientist Dr. Jim Winton,  “The ecology of emerging diseases among populations of wild fish.”