GIS Professor Opening at South Dakota State University

southdakota…from the GIS in Education blog

“The Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence (GISCE) at the South Dakota State University is in need of an Associate Professor or Full Professor to fill up its faculty position vacancy.

“An Associate or Full Professor with research interests in quantitative remote sensing, large-area terrestrial monitoring and/or modeling is sought for a position with the Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence. Specialization in one of the following areas is preferred: 1) land/atmosphere interactions and climate modeling, 2) active sensors (radar and/or lidar) for vegetation characterization, 3) modeling the dynamics of coupled human-environmental systems. The position workload is 80% research, 10% teaching, and 10% service. Research includes securing externally funded grant awards and recruiting and supervising grant-funded researchers. Teaching responsibilities include instructing one course per year and recruiting and advising students in the Geospatial Science and Engineering doctoral program. Service to international and/or national research organizations, the University, and the Center is expected. The successful candidate will hold academic rank at SDSU in Geography and/or other appropriate department. The successful candidate will be expected to train and advise graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and research assistants.”

Simulations and Ancient Magnetism Suggest Mantle Plumes May Bend Deep Beneath Earth’s Crust

…from the University of Rochester…

“Computer simulations, paleomagnetism and plate motion histories described in today’s issue of Science reveal how hotspots, centers of erupting magma that sit atop columns of hot mantle that were once thought to remain firmly fixed in place, in fact move beneath Earth’s crust.

“Scientists believe mantle plumes are responsible for some of the Earth’s most dramatic geological features, such as the Hawaiian islands and Yellowstone National Park. Some plumes may have shallow sources, but a few, such as the one beneath Hawaii, appear to be rooted in the deepest mantle, near Earth’s core.”

Solving the Puzzle: Researching the Impacts of Climate Change Around the World

nsf_climate…a new report from the National Science Foundation…

“This report addresses some of the major questions facing climate change researchers, and how those puzzles are being addressed by NSF-funded activities. Complex computer models are being developed and refi ned to predict Earth’s future climate. Observations of climate conditions from observatory networks distributed in Earth’s oceans, polar regions, land masses, and near-Earth orbit improve the accuracy of the climate models. Records of Earth’s past climate provide important insights into the mechanisms involved in climate cycles of the past, and can help to refine computational models by allowing researchers to simulate past climate. But understanding climate is only part of the story—as we improve our knowledge of how Earth’s climate is changing, we also improve our ability to cope with the impacts of global climate change and variability. Through social, economic, and behavioral science, researchers are learning how human behavior factors into climate change—and how human behavior can be modifi ed to ameliorate our impact on Earth’s climate. Physical scientists and engineers are developing alternative ways of creating, storing, and using energy to reduce the amount of carbon that human activities contribute to the atmosphere. Researchers are also building the scientific foundation for the tools that humanity may need in the future to counteract the eff ects of global climate change.”

Apply Now for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship

einApply now for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, a paid fellowship for K-12 math, science, and technology teachers. Einstein Fellows spend a school year in Washington, D.C. serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill.

To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2010-11 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation online by January 13, 2010.

Apply online at For more information about the program, visit or contact Program Manager Kathryn Culbertson at

NASA Video: Global Transportation of Carbon Monoxide Pollution

airs20091002-browse“Data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite were used to create this short video showing plumes of carbon monoxide being transported in Earth’s atmosphere around the globe. These observations track carbon monoxide at about 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) above the surface of Earth. In the movie, carbon monoxide emissions from large fires and large urban and industrial areas like northeastern China are visible, and are transported around the globe by weather fronts. The video is narrated by AIRS Science Team Member Wallace McMillan of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.”

Automating Counts of Photographed Indiana Bats Using the ArcGIS Feature Analyst Extension

bats“The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) is a Federally listed endangered species found in the Midwest and eastern United States. Its population has profound implications for forest management throughout its range. Declining populations could lead to timber harvest restrictions and changes to other land management practices in Midwestern and eastern forests. The Forest Plan and Biological Opinion of the Hoosier National Forest (Indiana) require hibernacula (i.e., winter hibernation sites) occupied by the Indiana bat to be monitored regularly to assess changes in population numbers. State and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists survey the bats every other winter while the bats are hibernating. Because management decisions and recovery action priorities are based on the population estimates and trends determined from these surveys, it is critical that they are accurate. During the surveys, individual bats and small clusters are counted directly, but those in larger clusters are estimated by multiplying the approximate area of the cluster by an assumed bat packing density. Unfortunately, estimates derived by these techniques can be highly inaccurate. In many hibernacula, using a digital camera to document bat numbers could reduce stress to the bats and also increase the accuracy of the population estimate by allowing the bats to be counted manually on a computer screen in an office setting. Nevertheless, this is a very tedious and labor-intensive task that some state and federal agencies cannot afford. An accurate, rapid, and more cost-effective way to count photographed bats is needed. With sponsorship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Remote Sensing Steering Committee, the Remote Sensing Applications Center conducted a study to investigate the feasibility of rapidly deriving accurate counts of photographed bats using Feature Analyst, an extension for ArcGIS. Counts derived with Feature Analyst were typically within one to nine percent of manually interpreted counts and processing times of less than four minutes per photo were achieved. This represents a significant improvement over traditional in-cave estimates and has the potential for high-volume use, which could further reduce the per photo processing time.”

Hot Spot Analysis – An ArcGIS Tutorial

hotspot“In this 9.3/9.3.1 tutorial, 911 Emergency call data is investigated and analyzed using the Hot Spot Analysis tool (Getis-Ord Gi* statistic). The tutorial begins by setting the scenario: Authorities in your community are spending a large portion of public resources responding to 911 emergency calls. They want to better understand the distribution of 911 calls in order to more effectively allocate emergency response resources. This tutorial guides you through the process of building a Hot Spot Analysis model tool. You will learn how to aggregate incident data, select appropriate parameter settings, and display results.”

NASA Flies to Antarctica for Largest Airborne Polar Ice Survey

nasa_logoNASA begins a series of flights Oct. 15 to study changes to Antarctica’s sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets. The flights are part of Operation Ice Bridge, a six-year campaign that is the largest airborne survey ever made of ice at Earth’s polar regions.

Researchers will work from NASA’s DC-8, an airborne laboratory equipped with laser mapping instruments, ice-penetrating radar and gravity instruments. Data collected from the mission will help scientists better predict how changes to the massive Antarctic ice sheet will contribute to future sea level rise around the world.

The plane, crew and scientists depart Oct. 12 from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, where they will be based through mid-November. Seelye Martin of the University of Washington in Seattle leads the mission, with nearly 50 scientists and support personnel involved. The team is planning 17 flights over some of the fastest-changing areas in western Antarctica and its ice-covered coastal waters.

Data collected during the campaign also will help bridge the data gap between NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite, known as ICESat, which has been in orbit since 2003, and NASA’s ICESat-II, scheduled to launch no earlier than 2014. ICESat is nearing the end of its operational lifetime, making the Ice Bridge flights critical for ensuring a continuous record of observations.

“A remarkable change is happening on Earth, truly one of the biggest changes in environmental conditions since the end of the ice age,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It’s not an easy thing to observe, let alone predict what might happen next. Studies like Ice Bridge are key.”

Because airborne observations lack the continent-wide coverage a satellite provides, mission planners have selected key targets to study that are most prone to change. Sea ice measurements will be collected from the Amundsen Sea, where local warming suggests the ice may be thinning. Ice sheet and glacier studies will be flown over the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica, including Pine Island Glacier, an area scientists believe could undergo rapid changes.

The payload on the DC-8 includes the Airborne Topographic Mapper, a laser altimeter developed at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. It produces elevation maps of the ice surface and previously was flown over the Antarctic in 2002, 2004, and 2008 aboard a Chilean Navy P3 aircraft. By retracing some of those flights, as well as the tracks covered by ICESat, researchers can compare the data sets and determine changes in ice elevation.

Other instruments flying include the Multichannel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder from the University of Kansas, which measures ice sheet thickness and the varied terrain below the ice. The Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor, developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., maps large areas of sea ice and glacier zones. A gravimeter from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., will give scientists their first opportunity to measure the shape of the ocean cavity beneath floating ice shelves in critical spots of Antarctica. A University of Kansas snow radar will measure the thickness of snow on top of sea ice and glaciers.
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks also are providing support for the campaign.

NASA also is funding complementary airborne surveys as part of Operation Ice Bridge, including surveys of Alaskan glaciers by scientists from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and an extensive survey of remote regions of East Antarctica by scientists from the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Edinburgh and the Australian Antarctic Division.

The Antarctic flights follow the first Operation Ice Bridge airborne campaign earlier this year over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. The mission will map key areas in each polar region once a year. Arctic flights resume in spring 2010.

For more information about Operation Ice Bridge, visit:

To follow Operation Ice Bridge on Twitter, visit:

For more information about NASA, visit:

[Source: NASA news release]