Tom Fisher on GeoDesign

…from the University of Minnesota College of Design

“Dear Colleagues,

“I was in California last week giving a keynote address at the first GeoDesign Summit, hosted by alumnus Jack Dangermond’s company, Environmental Systems Research Institute, the world’s largest producer of GIS software. The conference brought together academics in design, geography, and computer science, along with Federal agency and professional association representatives, to talk about a new field that Jack has dubbed GeoDesign, which combines the analytical capabilities of GIS with the creative capacities of designers. The event reinforced for me the great potential of the sciences and social sciences, focused on the world as it is, joining forces with design, which envisions the world as it could be.

“One of the speakers at the conference, Bran Ferren of the think tank, Applied Minds, made an argument particularly relevant to our world. He offered ample evidence that the digital revolution has only just begun, and that the disruptions that digital media have brought to the news and music industries will eventually transform every field, including the design professions and higher education. While the core content of what we do may not change much, said Ferren, how it gets delivered, when, and by whom, will change dramatically and quickly, once it starts. All food for thought as we enter the second decade of a century that already seems very different from the last.

“Tom”

A Hybrid Approach for Land Use/Land Cover Classification

GIScience & Remote Sensing, Volume 46, Number 4 / October-December 2009

Yanbing Tang, Clifton W. Pannell

“Atlanta has continuously changed its physical landscape as well as its socioeconomic appearance over the past decades. A hybrid image processing approach, which integrated unsupervised, supervised, and spectral mixture analysis (SMA) classification methods, was used to identify urban land use/land cover changes over a decade (from 1990 to 2000) in the Atlanta metropolitan area. During this process, SMA was proven to be an effective analytical approach for characterizing mixed feature areas, such as a metropolitan area. According to accuracy assessment, the classification results were acceptable.”

NSF Awards SDSC, Arizona State University $1.7 Million for National OpenTopography LiDAR Facility

The San Diego Supercomputer Center ( SDSC ) at UC San Diego and Arizona State University have been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation ( NSF ) to operate an internet-based national data facility for high-resolution topographic data acquired with LiDAR ( Light Detection and Ranging ) technology.  The facility will also provide online processing tools and act as a community repository for information, software and training materials.

The three-year project, which includes a grant of $1.4 million to SDSC and $300,000 to the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, will be based on SDSC’s OpenTopography portal, which will be scaled up to a national facility to make topography data available in multiple formats. This includes “raw” LiDAR point cloud data, standard LiDAR-derived digital elevation models, and easily accessible Google Earth products to better serve LiDAR users at various levels of expertise.

OpenTopography currently hosts and distributes a limited number of data sets acquired with funding from the NSF, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey ( USGS ). It is the product of the NSF-funded GEON ( GeoSciences Network ) project that has developed cyberinfrastructure for the integration of three- and four-dimensional earth science data.

“The fundamental goal of this project is to provide centralized access to community earth science LiDAR topography data,” said Christopher Crosby, SDSC’s project manager for the OpenTopography Facility.  “There is wealth of public domain LiDAR data available, but much of it is not yet easily accessible. We intend to leverage available cyberinfrastructure to make these powerful data sets, as well as online processing tools and knowledge resources, accessible to a large and diverse user community.”

The OpenTopography Facility will be primarily focused on large, community-oriented, scientific data sets, while building collaborations with existing LIDAR topography data providers and hosts such as the USGS and the NSF-funded National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping ( NCALM ) to link to their data archives and/or to host and distribute their data. An advisory committee representing OpenTopography users will prioritize which data sets are of greatest value to the community.

As one of the most powerful tools available to study the earth’s surface, overlying vegetation and man-made structures, high-resolution LiDAR data sets are widely regarded as revolutionary for earth science, environmental and engineering applications, as well as natural hazard studies. LiDAR makes it possible to generate digital elevation models ( DEMs ) at resolutions that are more than one order of magnitude better than those currently available. Moreover, large geographic areas can be surveyed at relatively low expense.

“LiDAR topography data is revolutionizing the way we study the geomorphic processes acting along the Earth’s surface,” said Ramon Arrowsmith, associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and project co-investigator. “From earthquake hazards research to examining the impact of human development on natural systems, LiDAR is emerging as a fundamental tool.”

“High-resolution topographic data collection is burgeoning for research, planning and regulatory activities, yet the massive size of the data sets has made online community access to them difficult,” said Chaitan Baru, SDSC Distinguished Scientist and principal investigator for OpenTopography and GEON. “LiDAR is an interesting test case because of those data volumes and the on-demand access our users require, but ultimately the strategies developed in this work could be applied to all types of scientific data over a very wide range of domains.”

OpenTopography addresses the basic challenge of how to efficiently manage, archive, distribute process and integrate tens of terabytes of community geospatial data. Many organizations that acquire LiDAR topography do not have the disk space, bandwidth, and in-house expertise necessary to make these data available via the Internet for community-level access and analysis.

The OpenTopography LiDAR Facility is funded under NSF award number 0930731 ( SDSC ) and 0930643 ( ASU ).

About SDSC

As an organized research unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC recently doubled its size to 160,000 square feet with a new, energy-efficient building and data center extension, and is a founding member of TeraGrid, the nation’s largest open-access scientific discovery infrastructure.

[Source: SDSC press release]

Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Science, Clark University

Clark University invites applications for an assistant professor position in Geographic Information Science (GIS) to begin Fall 2010. This is a three-year term appointment with the possibility of renewal. We are particularly interested in candidates with a specialization in one or more of the following GIS application areas: public health, environmental justice, food security, and humanitarian assistance. A major responsibility will be to teach core courses in GIS (including both raster and vector analysis) and to advise students in Clark’s Master of Arts program in GIS for Development and Environment. PhD. or equivalent in a relevant discipline is required by May 2010. Knowledge of programming languages used in GIS, experience with geospatial analysis and online mapping applications are also highly desirable.

This position will serve the needs of both the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) (www.clarku.edu/departments/idce) and Clark’s School of Geography (www.clarku.edu/departments/geography). Applicants must show a commitment to teaching and working collaboratively within an interdisciplinary program. A detailed statement of interest, curriculum vitae, and a list of references should be sent via email attachment to Jackie Murphy (jmurphy@clarku.edu) or via postal mail to the GISDE Search Committee, IDCE, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610. Review of applications will begin January 15 and will continue until the position is filled. AA/EOE. Minorities and Women are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information, contact GIS Faculty Search, Clark University (jmurphy@clarku.edu) or visit the Clark University Human resources web site.

Jane Goodall Institute-Tanzania Awarded More Than $2.7 Million USD by Royal Norwegian Embassy

Grant Will Enable Local Communities to Protect Forest Habitat and Ultimately Profit from Reducing Carbon Emissions

The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania recently awarded more than $2.7 million (USD) to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)-Tanzania. The three-year grant will enable JGI to provide local community-based organizations and district governments with the training, equipment and other materials needed to protect their forestland and-ultimately- benefit from income earned through the sale of carbon credits through the financing mechanism known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). REDD was a hot topic at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which was attended by world-renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.

“One of the major concerns raised at the Copenhagen conference is that traditional landowners won’t benefit from forest-based projects that reduce carbon from the atmosphere,” said Dr. Goodall. “JGI-Tanzania’s new project-generously funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy-will clearly demonstrate that this does not have to be the case. In fact, we will show how rural communities can lead REDD efforts, working together with governments to improve their lives, conserve the rich natural landscapes in which they live, and secure the future for generations to come.”

The funds provided by the Norwegian Embassy will support JGI’s work in the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem, one of the least developed areas of the world. JGI’s REDD project will produce a model demonstrating that traditional rural communities can lead actions to reduce carbon emissions and sequester carbon through sustainable management of their forest resources. The lessons learned from JGI’s efforts can guide other communities in Tanzania and elsewhere that wish to replicate the REDD process.

The project will primarily conserve approximately 70,000 hectares of pristine forests and woodlands found in one of the last large expanses of intact forest in Tanzania, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem functions such as providing habitat for chimpanzees. Communities will be eligible to earn credits for the carbon stored in their protected forest areas. They will then have the opportunity to sell these credits in the international marketplace in order to raise funds to support forest management efforts and improve community living conditions. In addition, participating communities will benefit from secondary products obtained from the protected forests, including sales from wild honey, medicinal plants, fuel wood and tourism.

Over the course of the three-year project, JGI will develop methodologies and provide technical training to communities and local and national government partners to help inventory, monitor and manage the forest. JGI will utilize a number of cutting-edge technologies in partnership with Google, ESRI and DigitalGlobe such as mobile Android/ODK and web-based mapping systems along with GIS and high-resolution satellite imagery. JGI will also work to strengthen management practices among participating organizations and improve communication between the government, community-based groups and local residents.

“By using geospatial technologies and the Internet, local communities will be able to interact directly with the global carbon marketplace and demonstrate unequivocally the concrete benefits of their efforts to protect the forest,” said Dr. Lilian Pintea, director of conservation science at the Jane Goodall Institute. “As a result, local information will directly inform and influence national and global decisions regarding climate change.”

About the Jane Goodall Institute

Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behavior-research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian youth program that has groups in more than 120 countries. For more information, please visit www.janegoodall.org.

[Source: Jane Goodall Institute press release]

Beaufort Sea Project for Climate Change: Impact and Adaptation to Climate Change for Fish and Marine Mammals

“Based on existing scientific research for environmental impacts in the Beaufort Sea, this project examines climate change and impacts on fish and marine mammals in the Canadian Beaufort Sea region, subsistence uses by the Inuvialuit, and the management of these species by the Fisheries Joint Management Committee and other government agencies and departments. The research identifies impacts of climate change and interactions with other environmental factors, illustrates these impacts and interactions with GIS analysis, and develops an interactive web-based communication strategy to discuss results and to recommend adaptive strategies that based on integrated management approaches.”