Researchers with Rickshaws Transform Madagascar Lab


“Biology students in Madagascar whose laboratory once had no furniture — much less internet access — now have access to laptops, GPS receivers and other equipment that will let them monitor and conserve the environment with satellite technology.

“The equipment and training came from scientists at the University of Bath who helped transform a previously empty room at the University of Toliara into a Geographical Information Science (GIS) lab.”

Call for Papers: Spatial Analysis of Past Built Environments, Berlin, Germany, 01-02 April 2010

Interdisciplinary and International Workshop on Spatial Analysis in Past Built Environments

This two-day workshop aims to promote discussion between a range of researchers in the disciplines of history/archaeology, urbanism, architecture, and computer science who have an interest in the spatial analysis of the built environment, and especially of historic and prehistoric spaces.

A number of very interesting speakers will be participating, including:

  • Prof. Bill Hillier (keynote speaker-The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London)
  • Dr David Wheatley (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Graeme Earl (University of Southampton)
  • Hannah Stoeger (University of Leiden)
  • Prof. John Bintliff (University of Leiden)
  • Dr. Akkelies van Nes (Delft university of Technology)
  • Piraye Haciguzeller (Université catholique de Louvain)
  • Dr Quentin Letesson (Université catholique de Louvain)
  • Ulrich Thaler (German Archaeological Institute Athens)
  • Dr. Eleftheria Paliou (Topoi Excellence Cluster)

If you are interested in participating send your abstracts (30min for presentation +questions) to by the 20th of January 2010.

2010 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii, 25-30 July 2010

“On behalf of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society and the IGARSS 2010 Organizing Committee, we are pleased to invite you to Honolulu for IGARSS 2010. We are thrilled to be returning to Hawaii to host IGARSS on its 30th anniversary! In the true spirit of an international event, we will continue our tradition of gathering world-class scientists, engineers, and educators engaged in the fields of geosciences and remote sensing from around the world. We anticipate well over one thousand participants to enjoy a week of technical sessions, tutorials, exhibits and social activities.

“For this 30th anniversary IGARSS we will celebrate our accomplishments over three decades of leadership in remote sensing instrumentation, techniques, and applications development. But perhaps more importantly we will look ahead to the future of our field with some fresh approaches and perspectives through our conference theme: Remote Sensing: Global Vision for Local Action. One such activity will be embodied in our plenary session, which will focus on the emerging field of Community Remote Sensing. We hope this plenary session, along with special tutorials and technical sessions, will inspire and excite our community for what is possible in the coming decade. We look forward to seeing you in Honolulu in July 2010!”

Visualization of Republic of Letters: GIS Technology Helps Stanford Scholars “See the Enlightenment”

“Historians and other humanities scholars are increasingly seeking to develop and use visualization tools, methods, and theories for making sense of patterns in large sets of heterogeneous historical data with multiple dimensions. For example, the Electronic Enlightenment database of over 55,000 letters and documents exchanged between 6,400 correspondents in the Republic of Letters presents a typical challenge confronting the emerging field of digital humanities. How can humanities scholars trained in close reading of individual documents make sense of patterns in large sets of data?

“The new challenges posed by an exponentially growing corpus of online historical data also present an opportunity for collaborations with computer scientists interested in data visualization, interpretation, and human-computer interaction. Computer scientists are deeply interested in how users interact with visualization tools to explore, explain, and engage with data to create meaning. We engaged in an iterative, collaborative effort that brought together historians, computer scientists, and an academic technology specialist to design data visualizations to represent the intellectual network of the Republic of Letters.”

Mathematical Relationships among Map Scale, Raster Data Resolution, and Map Display Resolution

…from the ESRI Mapping Center blog

“If you have used any raster data to make maps you may have at one time or another asked yourself, “What is the appropriate resolution of raster data for the map I am making?” This question is tied closely to a basic principle of map compilation that you may have learned in your beginning cartography course: “Always compile your map from source materials of the same or larger map scales”. In our age of digital elevation models and other raster datasets, this basic principle of map compilation can be restated as: “Always create your raster map from data at the same or higher spatial resolution than the ground resolution of your map display grid cells”. The ground resolution of your map display grid cells will depend on the scale of your map. …”

A New Method for Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Risk in Water Resources Management

Journal of Hydroinformatics Vol 11 No 3–4 pp 320–329

Slobodan P. Simonovic

“Uncertainty in water resources management is in part about variability and in part about ambiguity. Both are associated with lack of clarity because of the behavior of all system components, lack of data, lack of detail, lack of structure to consider the water resources management problems, working and framing assumptions being used to consider the problems, known and unknown sources of bias, and ignorance about how much effort it is worth expending to clarify the management situation. The two major sources of variability are temporal and spatial heterogeneity. Temporal variability occurs when values fluctuate with time. Other values which are affected by spatial variability are dependent upon location of an area. A major part of the water resources management risk confusion relates to an inadequate distinction between the objective risk (real, physical) and subjective (perceived) risk. Because of the confusion between the two concepts, many characteristics of subjective risk are believed to be valid also for objective risk. The main objective of this paper is to initiate a discussion of the possible methodology for the reliability analysis of water resources systems that will be capable of: (a) addressing water resources uncertainty caused by variability and ambiguity, (b) integrating objective and subjective risk and (c) assisting the water resources management based on better understanding of temporal and spatial variability of risk.”

USGS: Earthquake Early Warning System Possible

An earthquake early warning system for California is feasible in coming years, according to research presented Dec. 14-15 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

The ongoing study demonstrates that an earthquake early warning system for California is possible and lays out how such a system could be built.

Earthquake early warning systems, already successfully deployed in Mexico, Japan and Taiwan, can detect an earthquake in progress and provide notice of seconds to tens of seconds prior to actual ground shaking. Building on developments in other countries with significant earthquake risk, scientists are exploring early warning in the United States.

After a three-year earthquake early warning study funded by the U.S. Geological Survey was completed in August 2009, a second USGS-funded project was launched to integrate the previously tested methods into a single prototype warning system. When completed, this pilot system, called the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) ShakeAlert System, will provide warning to a small group of test users, including emergency response groups, utilities, and transportation agencies. While in the testing phase, the system will not provide public alerts.

The CISN ShakeAlert system will detect strong shaking at an earthquake’s epicenter and transmit alerts ahead of the damaging earthquake waves. The speed of an electronic warning message is faster than the speed of earthquake waves traveling through the earth. Potential applications include stopping elevators at the nearest floor, slowing or halting trains, monitoring critical systems, and alerting people to move to safer locations. In warning systems deployed abroad, alerts are distributed via TV and radio networks, the Internet, cell phones and pagers.

The earthquake early warning test uses real-time data from the California Integrated Seismic Network. The CISN is part of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System, through which the USGS aims to broadly improve earthquake monitoring and reporting in the United States. Funding for the CISN is provided by the USGS and the state of California.

The EEW study is a collaboration among the USGS, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California-Berkeley, the Swiss Seismological Service and the Southern California Earthquake Center.

[Source: USGS press release]

In the next two years American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding will be used to upgrade many of the older, slower seismic instruments throughout the CISN. These older instruments introduce time delays and would slow down early warning alerts.

Estimating Aboveground Biomass of Grassland Having a High Canopy Cover: An Exploratory Analysis of In Situ Hyperspectral Data

International Journal of Remote Sensing, Volume 30, Issue 24 2009 , pages 6497 – 6517

Jin Chen;  Song Gu;  Miaogen Shen;  Yanhong Tang; Bunkei Matsushita.

“To improve the estimation of aboveground biomass of grassland having a high canopy cover based on remotely sensed data, we measured in situ hyperspectral reflectance and the aboveground green biomass of 42 quadrats in an alpine meadow ecosystem on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. We examined the relationship between aboveground green biomass and the spectral features of original reflectance, first-order derivative reflectance (FDR), and band-depth indices by partial least squares (PLS) regression, as well as the relationship between the aboveground biomass and narrow-band vegetation indices by linear and nonlinear regression analyses. The major findings are as follows. (1) The effective portions of spectra for estimating aboveground biomass of a high-cover meadow were within the red-edge and near infrared (NIR) regions. (2) The band-depth ratio (BDR) feature, using NIR region bands (760-950 nm) in combination with the red-edge bands, yields the best predictive accuracy (RMSE = 40.0 g m-2) for estimating biomass among all the spectral features used as independent variables in the partial least squares regression method. (3) The ratio vegetation index (RVI2) and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI2) proposed by Mutanga and Skidmore (Mutanga, O. and Skidmore, A.K., 2004a, Narrow band vegetation indices solve the saturation problem in biomass estimation. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 25, pp. 1-6) are better correlated to the aboveground biomass than other VIs (R2 = 0.27 for NDVI2 and 0.26 for RVI2), while RDVI, TVI and MTV1 predicted biomass with higher accuracy (RMSE = 37.2 g m-2, 39.9 g m-2 and 39.8 g m-2, respectively). Although all of the models developed in this study are probably acceptable, the models developed in this study still have low accuracy, indicating the urgent need for further efforts.”

Online Access, Visualization, and Analysis of Canadian Groundwater Data

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

David Sharpe, Boyan Brodaric, Eric Boisvert, Charles Logan, and Hazen A.J. Russell

“Online access to Canadian groundwater information is being realized through the groundwater information network (GIN). GIN is an evolving collaboration of six provincial agencies, several conservation authorities, along with a federal facilitating agency. Groundwater information is provided via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)-compliant Web services (WMS, WFS) and Groundwater Markup Language (GWML). The exposed data reside in custodial provincial databases and they are combined dynamically into a seamless virtual database using the Web services and GWML.

“GIN can serve a range of client applicationsthat are able to utilize WMS/WFS data sources. Two Web-based portals have been developed and will shortly be made available to a wide range of users. The first is a data access portal that allows comprehensive discovery, viewing, and download of water well data from GIN. The second is an analysis portal that allows for 2-D and 3-D map interrogation, visualization, and statistical reporting of user selected data. It also provides a number of features previously available only in sophisticated Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These features include: location searching, summary statistics, thematic mapping, time-series analysis, and the graphic display of well logs (e.g., water levels, materials, and well construction) that can be manipulated and analyzed in a 3-D perspective view.

“Standardized data fields (e.g., well log lithologic codes) allow for ease and more consistent analysis of aquiferaquitard structure, water level, and other trends (e.g., gradients) that traverse provincial boundaries. Wider use of the data via GIN is revealing issues related to data content, structure, and systems as well as groundwater data completeness, consistency, and location accuracy.”

A Comparative Analysis of DEM-based Models to Estimate the Solar Radiation in Mountainous Terrain

International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Volume 23, Issue 8 August 2009 , pages 1049 – 1076

J. A. Ruiz-Arias;  J. Tovar-Pescador;  D. Pozo-Vaacutezquez; H. Alsamamra.

“Daily solar radiation estimates of four up-to-date solar radiation models (Solar Analyst, r.sun, SRAD and Solei-32), based on a digital elevation model (DEM), have been evaluated and compared in a Mediterranean environment characterized by a complex topography. The models’ estimates were evaluated against 40 days of radiometric data collected in 14 stations. Analyzed sky conditions ranged from completely overcast conditions to clear skies. Additionally, the role of the spatial resolution of the DEM has been evaluated through the use of two different resolutions: 20 and 100 m. Results showed that, under clear-sky conditions, the daily solar radiation variability in the study area may be reasonably estimated with mean bias errors under 10% and root mean square error values of around 15%. On the other hand, results proved that the reliability of the estimates substantially decreases under overcast conditions for some of the solar radiation models. Regarding the role of the DEM spatial resolution, results suggested that the reliability of the estimates for complex topography areas under clear-sky conditions improves using a higher spatial resolution.”