Integrating the Climate Science Modelling Language with Geospatial Software and Services

D. Lowe; A. Woolf; B. Lawrence; S. Pascoe

International Journal of Digital Earth, Volume 2, Issue S1 2009 , pages 29 – 39

“Much consideration is rightly given to the design of metadata models to describe data. At the other end of the data-delivery spectrum much thought has also been given to the design of geospatial delivery interfaces such as the Open Geospatial Consortium standards, Web Coverage Service (WCS), Web Map Server and Web Feature Service (WFS). Our recent experience with the Climate Science Modelling Language shows that an implementation gap exists where many challenges remain unsolved. To bridge this gap requires transposing information and data from one world view of geospatial climate data to another. Some of the issues include: the loss of information in mapping to a common information model, the need to create ‘views’ onto file-based storage, and the need to map onto an appropriate delivery interface (as with the choice between WFS and WCS for feature types with coverage-valued properties). Here we summarise the approaches we have taken in facing up to these problems.”

Washington University in St. Louis Receives Grant for “Foundations of GIS for the Applied Social Sciences”

The Gephardt Institute for Public Service at Washington University in St. Louis has announced the recipients of its Community-Based Teaching and Learning Faculty Grants Program. Recipients for 2009-10 inlcude J. Aaron Hipp, Ph.D., assistant professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. The grant will enable students to provide local community agencies with mapping services through the course “Foundations of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for the Applied Social Sciences.”

More than 40 community-based teaching and learning courses are offered by schools and departments across Washington University. Also known as service-learning, key elements include learning activities in service to an organization or community, course content and assignments connected to the service, and faculty oversight.

The grants are intended to provide faculty members with financial support for curriculum development and implementation. The Gephardt Institute also offers technical expertise in key areas of community-based teaching and learning, such as reflection assignments, evaluation methods, and tools for working effectively with community partners.

Environmental Literacy Grants for the Use of Technology in Informal/Nonformal Science Education

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This funding opportunity emphasizes the use of emerging and advanced technologies in the area of informal/nonformal science education. Applicants are encouraged to make use of Web 2.0 technology: web applications which enable interactivity, information sharing and collaboration. Examples include web-based communities, social-networking sites, and blogs.

Also, of interest are projects that employ innovative use of hand-held devices for educational purposes, such as GPS or custom applications for mobile devices, as well as projects incorporating live video and data feeds using telepresence technology. The use of cutting-edge technology for data visualization, such as advanced/high performance computing, GIS, and advanced and/or innovative display systems, such as spherical display systems**, is also encouraged. Projects involving cyberlearning – teaching and learning interactions conducted through the use of these and other technologies – are appropriate for this announcement.

Funding No. CDFA: 11.008

Expected Number of Awards: 10
Estimated Total Program Funding: $7,500,000
Award Ceiling: $1,250,000
Award Floor: $500,000
Issue Date: Jan 26, 2010
Closing Date: Feb 16, 2010

Scientists Map Changes in Science and Beyond

How has the structure of scientific research changed over the past decade? A team of researchers from Umeå University, Sweden, and the University of Washington, USA, aims to answer this question and others in a study published on January 27th in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Using new mathematical tools, the authors have revealed major shifts in the structure of scientific research in order to uncover structural changes in large, interconnected systems. To illustrate the power of their methods, the researchers mapped changes in the field of neuroscience and were able to track how the field evolved from an interdisciplinary specialty to a full fledged scholarly discipline.

“We wanted to map changes in science over the past decade. To do so, we started with more than 35 million citations between the articles in over 7000 scientific journals. This network of citations represents the flow of information between researchers in the world and the results show that significant changes have occurred in the life sciences. Neuroscience has gone from being an interdisciplinary research area to being a scientific discipline in its own right, ranking alongside physics, chemistry, economics, law, molecular biology and medicine,” says Martin Rosvall, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics, Umeå University. This analysis has resulted in some striking images (featured in the article), which elegantly demonstrate the change in the discipline over time.

The key to understanding complex and integrated structures such as the scholarly research literature is to think of them as networks. In a network, the components of the system are represented by nodes, and the interactions between the components consist of links between the nodes.

“People have done a great deal of work on how to find the important features of a network at one specific point in time. But we have not had ways of looking at how these networks change over time,” explains Rosvall.

“Detecting structural changes in large networks is a problem that consists of two parts,” explains Carl Bergstrom, Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Washington. “First, we identify statistically significant changes in the structure of a network, and second, we provide an intuitive way to visualize these changes.” These new tools will be useful in understanding a world permeated with change. As the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus wrote over 2500 years ago: “Everything flows, nothing stands still.”

The researchers believe that these mathematical methods will go beyond analyzing science and will be applied to a number of other problems in fields ranging from biology and medicine to technology and finance.

This work was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study program cooperative agreement 5U01GM07649. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

[Source: PLoS ONE press release]

White House Science and Technology Advisor Dr. John Holdren to Keynote at ESRI Federal User Conference

Dr. John P. Holdren, President Barack Obama’s science and technology advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will give the Keynote Address at the ESRI Federal User Conference (FedUC) on February 17, 2010, in Washington, D.C. He will address an audience of government leaders and geographic information system (GIS) professionals from all levels of government.

“The federal government is revolutionizing the way it uses technology to improve processes, make decisions, and strengthen democracy,” said Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. “Holdren offers key insights into the important roles that science and technology play in addressing the issues of our time.”

Trained in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, Holdren is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, he was a professor at both the Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, as well as director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. From 1973 to 1996, he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he cofounded and co-led the interdisciplinary graduate degree program in energy and resources.

In addition to experiencing a compelling Plenary Session, FedUC attendees will explore how GIS supports critical government initiatives such as economic recovery, renewable energy, health care reform, the smart grid, and climate change during paper presentations, technical workshops, a special national security session, and lightning talks. FedUC will be held February 17–19 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Visit for more information.

[Source:  ESRI press release]

Integrating Case-based and Fuzzy Reasoning to Qualitatively Predict Risk in an Environmental Impact Assessment Review

Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 24, Issue 10, October 2009, Pages 1241-1251

Kevin Fong-Rey Liu and Chih-Wei Yu

“During the preparation of environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental impact assessment reports (EIAR) for a development proposal, developers have three concerns. First is acquiring similar proposals for reference. Second is to forecast a possible review result for a compiled EIS or EIAR: approval, conditional approval, second-stage EIA, or disapproval. Risk management in accordance with the possible review result is the third issue. With the predicted possible review result, early preparation and revision of environmental management plans can ameliorate in advance highly risky nuisances; thereby the probability of passing review is relatively enhanced. In response to the first concern, Taiwan EPA provides developers an information system to access EISs and EIARs through the Internet. Except that, there is no related system to address these concerns in Taiwan. In this paper, the following suggestions of using artificial intelligence and management science are proposed to assist developers: case-based reasoning (CBR) for retrieval of similar cases, fuzzy reasoning (FR) for qualitative risk forecast, and importance–performance analysis (IPA) for risk management. Finally, a case study is used to demonstrate the use of the proposed system.”

Ecoregion Prioritization Suggests an Armoury Not a Silver Bullet for Conservation Planning

Funk SM, Fa JE

PLoS ONE 5(1): e8923. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008923, January 27, 2010

“In the face of accelerating species extinctions, map-based prioritization systems are increasingly useful to decide where to pursue conservation action most effectively. However, a number of seemingly inconsistent schemes have emerged, mostly focussing on endemism. Here we use global vertebrate distributions in terrestrial ecoregions to evaluate how continuous and categorical ranking schemes target and accumulate endangered taxa within the IUCN Red List, Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), and EDGE of Existence programme. We employed total, endemic and threatened species richness and an estimator for richness-adjusted endemism as metrics in continuous prioritization, and WWF’s Global200 and Conservation International’s (CI) Hotspots in categorical prioritization. Our results demonstrate that all metrics target endangerment more efficiently than by chance, but each selects unique sets of top-ranking ecoregions, which overlap only partially, and include different sets of threatened species. Using the top 100 ecoregions as defined by continuous prioritization metrics, we develop an inclusive map for global vertebrate conservation that incorporates important areas for endemism, richness, and threat. Finally, we assess human footprint and protection levels within these areas to reveal that endemism sites are more impacted but have more protection, in contrast to high richness and threat ones. Given such contrasts, major efforts to protect global biodiversity must involve complementary conservation approaches in areas of unique species as well as those with highest diversity and threat.”