Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Awards in Geographic Science

Application deadline October 15, 2009

The Association of American Geographer’s Marble Fund for Geographic Science is pleased to announce the 2010 Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Awards. These awards promote and recognize excellence in academic performance by undergraduate students in the United States and Canada who bridge geographic science and computer science in their studies. These awards, together with the William L. Garrison Award for Best Dissertation in Computational Geography, are sponsored by the Marble Fund and are supported by donations to the Fund. In the case of the current awards, the support of Mr. Jack Dangermond and Mrs. Grace Boyle is gratefully acknowledged.

The undergraduate awards are named for Dr. Duane Marble, creator of the Marble Fund, and for the late Dr. A. R. (Ray) Boyle who was a major Canadian contributor to the early development of both computer cartography and geographic information systems. Winners of the 2009 awards were Joanna Merson of the University of Victoria and Kenneth Robertson of Central Michigan University. Both worked as ESRI Interns during the Summer of 2009 and Ms. Merson will spend the fall in Switzerland as the winner of the supplemental MicroGIS Foundation for Spatial Analysis (MFSA) fellowship.

For more details about the award including applications and eligibility rules please see the AAG website at:

Quote of the Day

“Google is giving you more intelligence than anyone in the history of the world. But, you’re idiot savants because you don’t know how to apply the information in an ethical and moral way.”

–Brad Allenby, Arizona State University

Neighborhood Food Environment, Walkability, and Obesity in NYC

705192-fig1…from MedScape Today

“Density of BMI-healthy food outlets in New York City: Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) map illustrating the density of BMI-healthy food outlets. This KDE continuous surface was created with ArcGIS Spatial Analyst (ESRI, Redlands, CA), which uses a distance decay quadratic kernel function. Input processing parameters included a half-mile bandwidth and 1,545 discrete points representing the locations of supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, and natural food stores.”

Tracking and Spatial Analysis of Sex Offender Movements


“The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has begun tracking more than 6,000 sex offender parolees by using global positioning system (GPS) anklets. Sex offender parolees are allowed to travel only through certain areas and must keep away from other people. The GPS device lets parole agents know when parolees are somewhere they should not be by logging GPS coordinates every minute and sending coordinates to a central server every 10 minutes. This information about parolee location is compared to law enforcement incident data through crime-scene correlation reports. Regular e-mail reports keep analysts notified of any incidents that are close to an offender’s tracks in time and space. The features are accessible through an online mapping application, and analysts can review a parolee’s GPS data for up to 4 hours at a time, or view data in real time (with a 15- minute delay).

“Keeping track of parolees’ movements can take a lot of time and law enforcement resources. Law enforcement and parole agencies need a way to sum vast amounts of spatial behavior and coordinate it with related crime information. Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) Modelbuilder and the kernel density tool are essential for analysts who track and analyze sex offender movement data.”

GIS Offers a Visual Tour of Stimulus Funds

youthjobs…from Computerworld

“Do you wonder exactly where all of that federal stimulus money is being spent? GIS tools let you literally map out where in the U.S. those American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars are landing – and where the need is greatest.

“So, how well do they match up? The 12 maps in the White House’s Roadmap to Recovery report show where the funds are going, but those need overlays aren’t presented. GIS tools can provide graphical accountability. Wouldn’t it would be nice, for example, to see an overlay of unemployment data on this map showing where ARRA money is being spent to hire youth?”

Jack Dangermond’s Digital Mapping Lays It All Out

jd-ibd…from Investors Business Daily

“Jack Dangermond wants to shape a better understanding of the world.

“The multibillion-dollar industry he helped found around geographic information systems, or GIS, helps scientists and planners visualize and analyze data on maps.

“With his firm’s help, epidemiologists can see how disease spreads, disaster officials can predict storm damage, and civil engineers can tell how development will affect traffic.

“Four decades back, multilayer computer mapping was mainly a novel project in college labs. He saw its possibilities and built a business, ESRI, that spurred GIS use around the world.”

Salazar Releases Long-Term Report Detailing Glaciers Shrinking in Alaska and Washington

salazarA report on long-term glacier measurements released today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar shows that glaciers are dramatically changing in mass, length and thickness as a result of climate change.

Over the past 50 years, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have monitored the melting of Alaska’s Gulkana and Wolverine Glaciers and Washington’s South Cascade Glacier, yielding the longest such records in North America.

“This report we are releasing today is great example of the science and data our Department has gathered over the past 50 years,” said Secretary Salazar.  “This information is helpful in tackling the effects of climate change and it is exactly the kind of science we need to invest in to measure and mitigate the dangerous impacts of climate change.”

Glacier shrinkage has global impacts, including sea level rise that threatens low-lying and coastal communities. Smaller glaciers will also result in a decrease of water runoff, and impacts are especially important during the dry late summer when other water sources are limited.

“There is no doubt that most mountain glaciers are shrinking worldwide in response to a warming climate. Measuring changes in glacier mass provides direct insight to the link between glaciers and climate, ultimately helping predict glacier response to anticipated climate conditions,” said USGS scientist Edward Josberger.

The three glaciers monitored in this study are known as benchmark glaciers. They are widely spaced, represent different climate regimes, and can be used to understand the thousands of other glaciers in nearby regions.

USGS scientists study glacier behavior during different seasons, including summer melt and winter snow accumulation, as well as their response to both short and long term climate variations. This allows for more detailed insight regarding how and when the climate is changing.

“In addition to these three glaciers, more than 99 percent of America’s thousands of large glaciers have long documented records of an overall shrinkage as climate warms,” said USGS scientist Bruce Molnia. “Many people are surprised to learn that a few glaciers are thickening and advancing. These glaciers are responding to unusual and unique local conditions, including having large, high elevation areas where snow accumulates. Except for these anomalous few , most of America’s glaciers are shrinking and these exceptions emphasize how natural variability is an inherent part of a complex Earth system.”

You can view a video of South Cascade Glacier aerial photos from 1928 to 2006 at the USGS Washington Water Science Center Web site.

For more information on this study of glacier change in Washington and Alaska, visit Fact Sheet 2009-3046, Fifty-Year Record of Glacier Change Reveals Shifting Climate in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, USA.

More information about the USGS Benchmark Glacier Program can be found online.