Ducks Unlimited Canada Receives Award of Excellence in GIS for Advancing Wetland Conservation

du_logoESRI Canada has presented an Award of Excellence to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) for its extensive use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to drive wetland conservation efforts across the country.  The award was presented at the 2009 ESRI Regional User Conference in Regina, Canada.

As Canada’s leading wetland conservation organization, DUC conducts environmental research, delivers education programs and advocates policy change for conserving wetlands and associated habitat to benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people.  In 2002, DUC partnered with Environment Canada, the Canadian Space Agency and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) on the Canadian Wetland Inventory (CWI) project, which works to produce a comprehensive and standardized inventory of Canada’s wetlands using GIS.  The project is expected to provide consistent environmental information for better decision making affecting wetland conservation, management and land use planning.

“DUC has a long successful history of using GIS for its important work,” said James Wickson, Vice President of Sales and Professional Services, ESRI Canada.  “We commend them on their leadership role in the Canadian Wetland Inventory project and their continued efforts in using GIS to positively impact the environment and society.  We look forward to helping them further harness the power of GIS to advance their conservation efforts.”

To date, the CWI has completed inventories on 25 study sites across nine ecozones representing the diversity of wetland types across Canada.  The CWI also plans to produce a comprehensive map of Canada’s wetlands that the public can access through Natural Resource Canada’s GeoBase.

In addition to the CWI project, DUC has been using ESRI Canada’s GIS solutions for over a decade to develop applications for various areas of its operations including conservation planning and decision support, waterfowl and wetlands research, conservation program asset management, and migration route mapping.  DUC also uses GIS for monitoring policy change, developing marketing programs and managing fundraising activities.  The solutions are built on ESRI ArcGIS, an integrated suite of software that provides a scalable, open and interoperable platform for creating, integrating and analyzing geographic data.

“ESRI’s GIS software has been a core component in the planning and delivery of our conservation programs,” said Brian Kazmerik, National GIS Manager, DUC.  “Through innovative use of GIS technology, we are able to maintain a leadership role in the conservation community by providing the best available spatial information, tools, services and decision support sytems to help target, deliver and monitor conservation and fundraising activities.  This award from ESRI Canada inspires us to further leverage GIS to enhance other areas of our operations and continue making informed decisions regarding Canada’s wetland resources.”

Leveraging technology has been key to DUC’s strategy.  The organization began using remote sensing techniques to detect wetlands in 1979.  Since then, DUC has mapped 156 million hectares of Canadian wetlands using satellite imagery and aerial photography.  Today, more than a quarter of DUC’s employees use ESRI software to support operations.  In the future, DUC plans to continue leveraging GIS for wetland mapping and monitoring.  DUC also works to implement tighter integration of its corporate business application with geospatial data and develop more applications based on ArcGIS for its fundraising and conservation programs.

What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Spinning?

From Witold Fraczek in ESRI’s Applications Prototype Lab

“This map illustrates (the very impossible, but intellectually exciting) scenario of the Earth standing still.  If the Earth stopped spinning, the only remaining force that could affect our oceans is gravity.  Oceanic water would migrate to the polar regions where the Earth’s gravitation forces are strongest create two large polar oceans.  In a few areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean’s water would pool to form giant inland seas.


“Following the global ocean shift, a new and enormous continent would form around the equatorial region.  The red line in the image below represents the global divide in hemispherical watersheds of the two great oceans.”

California Climate Adaptation Strategy: Draft for Public Discussion

draft_adapation_strategy_300x378“A first-of-its-kind multi-sector strategy to help guide California’s efforts in adapting to climate change impacts is now available for public comment. In cooperation and partnership with multiple state agencies, the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy Discussion Draft summarizes the best known science on climate change impacts in seven specific sectors and provides recommendations on how to manage against those threats. The release of the draft document sets in motion a 45-day public comment period.

“Led by the California Natural Resources Agency, numerous other state agencies were involved in the creation of discussion draft, including Environmental Protection; Business, Transportation and Housing; Health and Human Services; and the Department of Agriculture. The discussion draft focuses on sectors that include: Public Health; Biodiversity and Habitat; Ocean and Coastal Resources; Water Management; Agriculture; Forestry; and Transportation and Energy Infrastructure. The strategy is in direct response to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s November 2008 Executive Order S-13-08 that specifically asked the Natural Resources Agency to identify how state agencies can respond to rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and extreme natural events. As data continues to be developed and collected, the state’s adaptation strategy will be updated to reflect current findings.”

Graduate Research Assistantship in Remote Sensing for Quantitative Ecosystem Studies at Michigan Technological University

michtech“A Ph.D. research assistantship in remote sensing for quantitative ecosystem studies is available in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University. The position will focus on further developing emerging remote sensing technologies (e.g., LiDAR) for ecosystem assessment and inventory. The ideal candidate will be highly motivated, innovative, and posses a MS degree in Forest Science, Ecology, Biology, Geography or related field. Start date is negotiable; however, spring semester 2010 is ideal. The assistantship includes a full tuition wavier and a competitive stipend.

“The School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science is located in a 93,000-square-foot teaching and research facility, and has state-of-the-art computing equipment, including remote sensing/GIS teaching and research laboratories ( Michigan Tech is also home to the Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Institute (EPSSI), which is comprised of over twenty faculty focused upon promoting interdisciplinary research and education in various aspects of remote sensing ( The University’s close proximity to vast expanses of Northern Hardwood Forest make it an ideal location to conduct research on remote sensing of forested ecosystems.

“Interested persons should e-mail GRE scores, a statement of professional interests, curriculum vitae including names and contact information for three references, a writing sample, and any other relevant materials to Dr. Michael Falkowski ( Review of applications will begin on September 15th, 2009. Please consult the following web page for additional information regarding the graduate program and associated application procedures (”

Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey

0309139155A new book from the Committee on Water Resources Activities, National Research Council…

“Water is our most fundamental natural resource, a resource that is limited. Challenges to our nation’s water resources continue to grow, driven by population growth, ecological needs, climate change, and other pressures. The nation needs more and improved water science and information to meet these challenges.

Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future reviews the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Resource Discipline (WRD), one of the nation’s foremost water science organizations. This book provides constructive advice to help the WRD meet the nation’s water needs over the coming decades. Of interest primarily to the leadership of the USGS WRD, many findings and recommendations also target the USGS leadership and the Department of Interior (DOI), because their support is necessary for the WRD to respond to the water needs of the nation.”

The Value of GIS to Science

GIS technology supports many crucial aspects of scientific research and analysis, including epidemiology, climate change, mineral and petroleum exploration, alternative energy potential (wind and solar), water resource allocation and management, and endangered species restoration. 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 them understand complex systems that have a significant spatial component.

GIS and Intelligent Agents for Multiobjective Natural Resource Allocation: A Reinforcement Learning Approach

122570989…from Transactions in GIS

“An important component of natural resource management is determining how to allocate resources within a landscape to different stakeholders in a manner that satisfies multiple objectives. Developing decision making tools for assisting natural resource allocation is a challenging endeavor as stakeholders’ objectives typically exist at varying spatial scales, their actions are defined by the spatial constraints in which they operate, and the spatial distribution of resources can be altered due to system disturbances. The nature of such challenges suggests the need for a geographic approach that can investigate these spatial complexities in order to generate a suitable set of solutions. The objective of this study is to develop and evaluate an Intelligent Agent Model for multiobjective natural resource allocation. The model integrates agent-based modeling in a GIS environment with reinforcement learning – a heuristic method for generating, evaluating, and improving multiobjective decision making solutions. The model is implemented by simulating a forest management scenario in which agents that represent forest companies learn how to harvest trees in a manner that maximizes economic return while minimizing the adverse ecological impact to the surrounding landscape. In addition, the model simulates forest disturbances of varying frequencies and intensities to determine how disturbance events affect the decision-making ability of agents. The model is validated to demonstrate that it can provide practical solutions to natural resource decision making.”

IRSJ: Incremental Refining Spatial Joins for Interactive Queries in GIS

cover-medium…from GeoInformatica

“An increasing number of emerging web database applications deal with large georeferenced data sets. However, exploring these large data sets through spatial queries can be very time and resource intensive. The need for interactive spatial queries has arisen in many applications such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for efficient decision-support. In this paper, we propose a new interactive spatial query processing technique for GIS. We present a family of the Incremental Refining Spatial Join (IRSJ) algorithms that can be used to report incrementally refined running estimates for aggregate queries while simultaneously displaying the actual query result tuples of the data sets sampled so far. Our goal is to minimize the time until an acceptably accurate estimate of the query result is available (to users) measured by a confidence interval. Our approach enables more interactive data exploration and analysis. While similar work has been done in relational databases, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first work using this approach in GIS. We investigate and evaluate different sampling methodologies through extensive experimental performance comparisons. Experiments on both real and synthetic data show an order of magnitude response time improvement relative to the final answer obtained when using a full R-tree join. We also show the impact of different index structures on the performance of our algorithms using three known sampling methods.”