Earthquake Researcher to Discuss GIS at Geotechnical Conference in Egypt

rolladailynews_logo…from The Rolla Daily News

Dr. Ronaldo Luna, associate professor of civil engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is traveling all the way to Egypt this fall to present research findings that come partly from Poplar Bluff, Mo.

“Luna has been invited to share his work at the 17th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, which will feature top experts from around the world. The conference will be held Oct. 3-9 in Alexandria, Egypt.

“At the conference, Luna will discuss the use of geographic information systems (GIS) as a modern tool to help agencies and engineers assess structures in earthquake-prone areas. Some of the information Luna will present was collected in lowland areas around Poplar Bluff, which is located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.”

Post-Doctoral Research of Soil Carbon Cycling at Michigan Technological University

michtech…from Environmental Research Web

“Applications are invited for the position of post-doctoral researcher to study soil carbon cycling at broad spatial scales and coordinate activities of the National Soil Carbon Network (NSCN). This position is jointly funded by the USDA Forest Service, US Geological Survey, and Northern Institute of Applied Carbon Science. General responsibilities will include:

  1. “Database development: Support the development of a coherent, searchable, and expandable database with an advanced analysis environment. This database will be oriented to a wide range of individual investigators, small networks, and national agencies interested in spatially explicit soil C information.
  2. “Data synthesis: Test the efficacy of the database and interface by combining data from multiple large datasets and individual users, comparing multiple data input forms (isotopes, spectral analysis, etc), and producing a distinct synthesis product related to soil C distribution and vulnerability.
  3. “Community organization: Support NSCN workshops focused on data-sharing, protocol-development, and advanced website engineering for database interaction and community discussion; disseminate Network products and draw increased participation and collaboration through the web and NACP activities.

“A PhD in soil science, biogeochemistry, ecology, environmental engineering, or related field is required, as is a proven capacity to modify and run models and to design and manipulate large databases. The candidate should have strong interpersonal and organizational capabilities related to multi-investigator and large-scale studies. Experience with any of the following will be an asset: GIS, ecosystem modeling (CLM, CLM-CN, CASA, IBIS, DayCENT, etc), uncertainty analysis, or software engineering.”

Geographic Patterns of Hydrogen and Oxygen Isotopes in Human Hair

sci-policy-hd…from Science Insider

[Reaction about the scientific validity of a plan by the U.K. Border Agency to use DNA and isotope analysis of tissue from asylum seekers to evaluate their nationality and help decide who can enter the United Kingdom…]

Jane Evans, NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory: I can’t imagine how you use [isotope evidence] to define nationality….It worries me as a scientist that actual peoples’ lives are being influenced based on these methods.

James Ehleringer, University of Utah: In 2008 we published a paper establishing a relationship between the hydrogen and oxygen isotope of human hair and geographic patterns…To the best of my knowledge, we are the only laboratory that has taken the hair isotope patterns and explicitly placed them onto a GIS display (i.e., map). As you see from that map, there are not unique relationships in the USA, only banding patterns. I am unaware of any substantive regional and/or global pattern analyses other than those out of our lab. Thus, I find it surprising that scientists in the UK have not only acquired the data to develop global maps but also that this technique has been refined to the point that it is a viable, reliable screening tool with the specificity implicit in the document. There are not unique global distribution patterns for hydrogen and oxygen isotopes of water. Instead there are repeatable patterns across continents in a general sense. We would expect hair hydrogen and oxygen isotopes to exhibit the same pattern.  Thus, a unique specificity that would be appropriate for the proposed application seems unlikely. Now the additional analyses of heavy isotopes in hair may further constrain the possible regions of origin, but I do not believe that our science has reached the point where we can be specific at the country or within country scale.

“Now to the bigger challenge…Hydrogen and oxygen isotopes of hair reveal recent regional geographic patterns. Assuming that hair grows at about 1 cm per month,  a 10-cm hair length might record the last 10 months of that person’s travel…this 10-month period is not necessarily synonymous with where that person may have originated from.”

NOAA’s Free Habitat Digitizer Extension for ArcGIS

HabitatDigitizerMap“The Habitat Digitizer Extension is a GIS tool designed to use a hierarchical classification scheme to delineate features by visually interpreting georeferenced images such as aerial photographs, satellite images, and side scan sonar. The extension allows users to create custom classification schemes, digitize polygons, lines, and points using standard ArcGIS editing tools, and attribute the features using a dialog containing the user-created scheme. The extension allows new hierarchical classification schemes to be easily created, modified, and saved for use on future mapping projects. There are several advantages to using classification schemes with a hierarchical structure: the detail of habitat categories can be expanded or collapsed to suit user needs, the thematic accuracy of each category/hierarchical level can be determined, and additional categories can be easily added or deleted at any level of the scheme to suit user needs.

“This GIS tool has been useful in many benthic habitat mapping projects of the Biogeography Branch; see related project links below.”

More information


Puget Sound Maps the Future of Renewable Energy

…from Vector One

“Washington State’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), adapted quickly with a program that rewards customers with qualifying renewable energy systems. PSE continues to push the envelope for innovative ways of thinking about renewable energy and conservation programs. The utility is recognized by the American Wind Energy Association as the second-largest utility owner of wind energy facilities in the United States and owns two commercial production wind power plants. PSE has garnered national recognition for a variety of energy efficiency achievements recently, including the prestigious platinum-level Energy and Water Management Award by the Secretary of the Navy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 ENERGY STAR for its efforts in energy conservation.

“PSE has been supplying energy to customers for more than 100 years and today serves more than 1 million electric and approximately 750,000 natural gas customers around the Puget Sound region. To meet the electrical energy needs of its customers over the next 20 years, PSE implemented a 2009 integrated resource plan that directs the utility to add 1,100 megawatts (MW) of renewable wind generation and 1,064 MW of efficient energy to its existing generation portfolio of hydroelectric, wind, gas, and coal power plants. As energy efficiency becomes a leading resource addition, the utility has to become more innovative in targeting customers with energy savings potential and increasing their engagement with its energy efficiency programs. Geographic information system (GIS) technology is playing an increasing role in refining PSE’s understanding of its customers and their potential efficiency gains.”

4-H’ers Participate in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Projects

4hnewsheader…from 4-H News

“In July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) invited the National 4-H GIS Leadership Team and EquipoGIS, an international youth group, to conduct geographic information system (GIS)-based service projects for the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The results of their projects were presented at ESRI’s Education User Conference in San Diego, California.

“The first project was conducted at Gunpowder Point, an area that was once the site of the Hercules Powder Company Plant, where kelp was processed into acetone that was used to make cordite, a smokeless gunpowder used by the British during World War I.”

New Analysis Brings Dire Forecast of 6.3-Degree Temperature Increase

washingtonpost…from the Washington Post

“Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.

“The new overview of global warming research, aimed at marshaling political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the year, highlights the extent to which recent scientific assessments have outstripped the predictions issued by the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.”

GIS Maps of Plastic Density in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre

Gyre_Count_Density_1999-2008_001“Since 1999 Algalita has been collecting data on plastic pollution in the NPSG. Originally Algalita suspected the “Eastern Garbage Patch” as the area of highest debris accumulation. As more data is collected we are discovering that the boundaries of the original Eastern Garbage Patch are likely an underestimation of the prevalence of plastic pollution in the NPSG. It is important to note that not one sample collected during any of our 6 research expeditions has been free of plastic!

“In attempt to understand the scope of the plastic pollution, the ORV Alguita has both resampled the same locations within the NPSG and extended our sample range. By resampling the same area we can compare the repeated sample locations to try and figure out the rate of plastic accumulation in the area. By extending our sample range we are gaining a better perspective on the pervasiveness of this problem.”