Spatial Statistics: New Online Workshop Series from NITLE

“Responding to requests from NITLE participants, we are pioneering an online program for spatial statistics training led by Dr. Bill Huber, founder of Quantitative Decisions and regular contributor to our GIS community forum. This program builds on our experience facilitating virtual collaborations, topical discussion, and conferences in offering a media-rich environment where participants can meet and together, study the fine points and techniques of statistical analysis using GIS.

“Meeting weekly for five consecutive weeks in early 2010, participants will learn about:

  • Principles, pitfalls, and fallacies of spatial statistics
  • Exploratory spatial data analysis
  • Data description and prediction
  • Hypothesis testing and simulation”

More information

Do Geologic Mapping Programs in the U.S. as Presently Constituted Meet Pressing Societal Needs?

…from the 2009 Three-Dimensional Geologic Mapping Workshop held by the Illinois State Geological Survey…

E. Donald McKay III

“Is geological mapping in the U.S. being done in the places and using approaches that produce appropriate, timely, geologic information to meet the Nation’s most pressing needs? If not, we must refine our methods and accelerate our timetable to make the needed products more relevant and available.

“Ongoing federally funded geologic mapping in the United States is producing maps of good quality. Mapping advisory committees at the state level help direct projects into areas where need is significant. Mapping programs are chronically underfunded. Where more conventional geologic mapping is needed, more money would help address map production shortfalls immediately. But, funding is only part of the problem. There are places where conventional maps and conventional approaches to geologic mapping fall short of meeting societal needs. There, the content of a conventional geologic map is simply insufficient to capture the salient geologic features needed to support decisions regarding pressing societal issues. In those locations and situations, mapping methods need to be refined, approaches adjusted, and products tailored to meet the needs of society.”

GIS Aids Study of Alternative Energy Potential in Singapore

…from WILD Singapore News

“Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) research fellow Durairaju Kumaran Raju said a geographic information system (GIS) software was used to store and analyse various sources of data such as geographical and natural physical information fed into it.

“The maps produced by the GIS software allowed researchers to spot regions with high or low potential for developing sources of renewable energy, for example, geothermal power.

“This knowledge will allow investors to put their money in the right places.”

Space Agencies Join Forces to Systematically Observe Climate Variables

Over 30 000 people from 190 nations are gathered at the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. On Thursday about 150 distinguished guests attended an ESA-hosted side event entitled ‘Global Monitoring of our Climate: the Essential Climate Variables’.

During the event, speakers from various agencies highlighted the role that Earth observation satellites play in providing systematic global climate observations. These observations are essential for climate change research and for managing mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has long recognised the need for global observations of climate variables in order to quantify the state of our climate. Within ESA’s Climate Change Initiative a set of long-term global records of essential climate variables will be provided using space technology.

These data are required by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) – an organisation in the framework of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) – to support the UNFCCC and the International Panel on Climate Change.

Opening the side event, Dr Stephen Briggs, ESA’s Head of Earth Observation Science, Applications and Future Technologies Department, explained how ESA is responding to the needs of UNFCCC with its new Climate Change Initiative.

“ESA has developed the Climate Change Initiative to generate, preserve and give access to long-term data sets of the essential climate variables and make them freely available to climate research and modelling communities worldwide,” Briggs said.

The initiative will build on the availability of Europe’s global data sets and on data delivered by a network of other space agencies. It will also guarantee the provision of space-based information for the future, in a form readily usable by scientific communities and government bodies.

Data from ESA satellites going back three decades, combined with data from new missions, will be used to produce information on a wide range of climate variables such as greenhouse-gas concentrations, sea-ice extent and thickness, and sea-surface temperature and height.

The Climate Change Initiative will implement all actions necessary to generate essential climate variables, including long-term data preservation, periodic reprocessing of the long-term climate archive, recalibration, algorithm development, product generation and validation, and quality assessment of climate records in the context of climate models.

These activities will be implemented by ESA, in partnership with key users (GCOS, UNFCCC), space agencies, relevant players in the field of climate change research and monitoring (EC, WMO, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), EUMETSAT and national programmes).

At the event, Gilberto Camara, Director of the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE) and CEOS Chair, described how space agencies are supporting climate observations in areas like greenhouse-gas and forest monitoring.

“Operational monitoring of climate using Earth observation is essential. This cannot be done alone. Therefore, there is a need for space agencies to coordinate and work together,” Camara said. “Earth observation is the area that has increased the most in terms of budgets in the last few years and will increase more in the years to come. The ‘data democracy’ needs to reach the masses.”

Carolin Richter, Director of GCOS Secretariat, also underscored the need for getting data to developing countries, saying she would like to see the objective for the free exchange of data achieved.

ESA’s Head of the Earth Observation Projects Section, Olivier Arino, presented the Agency’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including the Earth Explorers and Sentinels, and explained how data from these can contribute to studies on the global carbon cycle, sea-level height and temperatures and sea ice. He also demonstrated how satellites are being used for fire and ocean-colour monitoring.

Chairing the event, Briggs was on hand to recount ESA’s activities on monitoring forests, which were developed as part of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) services. The Forest Monitoring project was initiated to help establish a mechanism for measuring deforestation. A reliable procedure for validated, verified monitoring of forests, based on satellite data, will be needed to underpin any political agreement on schemes such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) under the UNFCCC.

Under REDD, countries that are willing and able to reduce emissions from deforestation would be financially compensated for doing so. Previous approaches to curb global deforestation have so far been unsuccessful, however, REDD provides a new framework to allow deforesting countries to break this historical trend.

European Environmental Agency Director Jacqueline McGlade spoke at the event about the impacts of climate change, giving the need to monitor the speed at which glaciers are changing as an example. “Political decision-makers count money; we will make them count water, clean air and forests. It is very important to have updated observations and long-term continuity of data. Climate change impact is a reality. Space tells us a great deal and being on the ground tells us even more. The combination of the two is essential.”

[Source: European Space Agency news release]

Traditional Knowledge Meets GIS in Climate Change Battle

…from IPS News

“Marilyn Wallace, a land conservation coordinator from New Queensland, Australia and a member of the Kuku Nyungkal clan, said she and her band were given a new beginning after being granted autonomy over their homelands. She urged the official delegates to take the time to “stop, look, listen and learn”.

“Wallace and 14 other forest rangers manage their homelands in collaboration with Australian resource officials. The team is in the process of conducting a biological inventory of their range, incorporating traditional knowledge with cutting edge GIS digital mapping systems.

“”We are preserving the wisdom of the elders with modern technology,” she said, a reminder that native people are not just victims of climate change but key players in the protection and preservation of ecosystems.”

2010 O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference: 30 March to 01 April 2010, San Jose, California

“Now in its sixth year, the Where 2.0 conference is where developers tip base and building location technology intersect with the companies and entrepreneurs seeking location applications, platforms and hardware to gain a competitive advantage. In the O’Reilly conference tradition, Where 2.0 presents leading trends rather than persecute them.

“If 2.0, you will find tools to map the source, reality mining, open standards for data and tracking Web services, and sensors for location information. Let’s learn how the established geo industry is reacting to the first companies to make money from their geo-spatial based projects. There is no better place to meet the people behind mashups, the people behind the platforms, and the people of the future of geospatial. Join us in case of 2.0 to debate and discuss what is achievable now and what is lurking below the radar. Where 2.0 2010 includes a full day of workshops followed by two days of plenary sessions with a unique combination of high-level speeches with great players, lightning talks, panel discussions, demonstrations, product launches, Q & A time, and much more . The most innovative and interesting people in this area appear on the stage, and stay around to debate and discuss with other conference attendees off stage.”

Forest Carbon Management: New GIS Best Practices e-Book from ESRI

“Allowing earth’s forests to thrive and do their job of carbon sequestration is essential to reducing the threat of climate change. Technology offers hope to the greenhouse phenomenon caused by industrial society. One such technology is ESRI’s ArcGIS, which offers scientists, decision makers, and policy implementers a critical tool for obtaining information they need to heal our planet. GIS allows temporal climate data to be visualized, contrasted, and forecasted. Use ArcGIS to study current land use, land-use change, and what-if scenarios for responsible planning.”

“Geospatial Abduction”: Fighting IED Attacks with Technology

…from Science Codex

“University of Maryland researchers have developed and successfully tested new computer software and computational techniques to analyze patterns of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan or other locations and predict the locations of weapons caches that are used by insurgents to support those attacks.

“University of Maryland computer science Ph.D. student Paulo Shakarian and computer science Professor V.S. Subrahmanian, together with University of Torino (Italy) computer science Professor Maria-Luisa Sapino developed a new computational technique called geospatial abduction designed to help analysts locate caches of explosive weapons. Their resulting software, called SCARE (Spatio-Cultural Abductive Reasoning Engine) allows human analysts to combine available intelligence with this analytical computational technique to identify the most probable locations of IED weapons caches. The researchers say tests conducted with the SCARE software have been quite accurate.”

National Council for Science and the Environment Releases “The Climate Solutions Consensus”

With the world’s eyes focused on the climate talks in Copenhagen, the US National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) announces publication of its first  book.  The Climate Solutions Consensus, written by David Blockstein and Leo Wiegman, describes in non-technical language what we know about climate change, and the solution paths available today for climate mitigation and adaptation.  It presents 39 reasons why we need to act now to control climate change.

Most importantly, the NCSE book describes ways that we can work together now to foster solutions. The book proposes 35 climate actions for immediate consideration, many of which are on the table in Copenhagen this month.

The NCSE National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, in 2008 brought together more than 1,300 research and policy experts around the topic of Climate Change: Science and Solutions. The ideas, research, and policy options presented and discussed at that conference served as the starting point for this book. The recommendations developed in breakout discussions around topics such as agriculture, buildings, coastal and urban management, education, energy, forestry, health, human population and international partnerships form the basis for the 35 climate actions.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) announced yesterday atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached record highs of 385 parts per million at the end of 208. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), announced this week that the years 2000-2009 is thus far the warmest decade on record.

The Climate Solutions Consensus: What We Know and What To Do About It places these trends into perspective for the average citizen and offers practical and game-changing pathways available to business, government, and citizens.  It is published by Island Press, the leading non-profit publisher of environmental books.

The book’s package offers special features designed to help teachers of climate policy courses or citizens involved in developing local climate action plans. The NCSE and authors have prepared an extensive website on NCSE’s content rich Encyclopedia of Earth. The web site offers extra discussions not available in the print version, including illustrations and figures. In addition, every bibliographic reference in the book is accompanied by a hyperlink to the original source from the book’s website.  This should help readers follow the latest research and policy developments.

Visit for links to the extra content, the Climate Change: Science and Solutions conference website (including videos of presentations by John Holdren, now President Obama’s science advisor, Mohan Munasinghe (IPCC Vice Chair), James E. Rogers, (Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy Corporation), Sarah James, (Alaskan Gwitch’in Steering Committee and Goldman Environmental prize-winner), Bill McKibben (, Abigail Kimbell, (then Chief, US Forest Service), Congressman Jay Inslee (Washington), scientists Stephen Schneider, Bob Corell, Tom Lovejoy and many others, recommendations for action, climate education resources and much more.

The website also contains a link to the Island Press website where you can order the book. NCSE and Island Press are pleased to offer a 25% discount off the listed price of $30 paper and $60 hard cover. Use the code 25source on your order form to receive the discount.  Customers in Europe and the Middle East should contact to order the book.

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) is a national non-partisan organization with a mission to improve the scientific basis for environmental decisionmaking.