Advancing the Science of Climate Change

…a new study from the National Research Council…

“The compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence, says Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of the new books. While noting that there is always more to learn and that the scientific process is never “closed,” the book emphasizes that multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change.

“The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations, the book says.”

Atmosphere, Climate, and Weather Papers at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference

Real-World Applications of GIS in Meteorology

  • The Colorado Statewide Snow Avalanche Path GIS Database and Project
  • Effect of Surface Characteristics on Tornado Vortex Signatures

Software and Hardware Tools for Climatology and Meteorology

  • An Open Geospatial Consortium Standards-based Arctic Climatology Sensor Network Prototype
  • Using Mobile Devices for Enhanced Storm Damage Surveys
  • Mapping and Animating Air Masses with Python and ArcObjects

From the Wet Side: Marine Climatology and Climate Impacts

  • Integration of Hurricane Model with Socio-Economic Data
  • HabitatSpace – to visualize/analyze climate change effects in 3-D
  • Analysis and Visualisation of Atmospheric and Marine Meteorology Information

Panel Discussion: Atmosphere 2.0

  • This discussion will focus on how atmospheric and environmental sciences are now using mapping to engage the public, mostly by citizen generated content.

Obesity Remains an Economic Issue, Seattle Obesity Study Finds

Ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods is a top priority in tackling the obesity epidemic in the United States. Over the course of the last six months, the Institute of Medicine, United States Department of Agriculture, The White House and First Lady Michelle Obama have taken an interest in improving access to affordable and nutritious foods. Here in Seattle, Adam Drewnowski, UW professor of epidemiology, and his team are tackling the same issue. Remember the “fat zip codes” that predicted obesity rates from a few years ago? Drewnowski and his team were the brains behind that, as well as last summer’s study which showed that grocery prices in Seattle varied greatly between one supermarket chain and another.

Now, researchers at the UW Center for Public Health Nutrition, UW Urban Form Lab and the Nutritional Sciences Program in the School of Public Health are asking: “Who buys what foods, why, where, and for how much?”

The answers might surprise you. Most studies have used distance to the nearest supermarket as the best predictor of whether people have good diets and better health. But Drewnowski and team say that’s not true. “Six out of seven people shopped for food outside their immediate neighborhood,” he said “The closest supermarket for most people was less than a mile away, but people chose the market that was more than three miles away.” Driving further to save money on groceries is common. For that reason, physical proximity to a supermarket may not, by itself, assure a healthy diet. “Money does matter,” Drewnowski said.

Areas where access to healthy affordable foods is scarce have become known as “food deserts.” Seattle, however, is well-supplied with supermarkets, grocery stores, farmers markets and other vendors, said Drewnowski. “We do not see evidence of significant food deserts,” he said. In comparison with other areas in the state, public transportation is also prevalent and accessible, so people can take a bus to a supermarket or grocery store with relative ease.

Researchers combined a telephone survey, modeled on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System, with new geo-coding techniques and methods of spatial analysis for the new study.

Economic access has also become a primary research focus in public health nutrition, including the work by Drewnowski and team. Supermarket chains have specific demographics–consumers differ by age, education, income, health, and even obesity rates. “The county-wide obesity rate in 2007 was 19.8 percent, but our research found that the obesity rate was only four percent among Whole Foods and PCC shoppers,” said Drewnowski. “Consumers who shop at most area supermarket chains have obesity rates at 25 percent and higher. Clearly, not all supermarkets are the same and economic access is determined by price.”

UW researchers recently discussed the Seattle Obesity Study results at “Shopping for Health” conference, which brought together public health agencies, academicians, supermarket representatives and policymakers from Seattle, King County and Washington state. Additional findings include:

  • New ways to identify underserved areas (“food deserts”) in Washington state that are most in need of resources
  • New ways to identify healthy, affordable and sustainable foods
  • The Seattle Atlas, or SEATTLAS, of all food sources, including supermarkets, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants
  • Food purchases and expenditures, diet quality and weight/ obesity
  • Insights from similar studies conducted in New York City.

“We plan to explore how local data can best be used in new initiatives to improve access to healthy, affordable foods in Seattle, King County and throughout Washington state,” said Drewnowski. “As part of the dialogue, it is extremely important that the food industry be part of the solution and we welcomed their presence at this recent gathering,” he said. “We hope to provide the local answer to the question that the federal government is trying to address. And we want to make sure our public health initiatives and programs are backed by research and science.”

[Source: University of Washington press release]

A CyberGIS Framework for the Synthesis of Cyberinfrastructure, GIS, and Spatial Analysis

Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 19 May 2010

Shaowen Wang

“Cyberinfrastructure (CI) integrates distributed information and communication technologies for coordinated knowledge discovery. The purpose of this article is to develop a CyberGIS framework for the synthesis of CI, geographic information systems (GIS), and spatial analysis (broadly including spatial modeling). This framework focuses on enabling computationally intensive and collaborative geographic problem solving. The article describes new trends in the development and use of CyberGIS while illustrating particular CyberGIS components. Spatial middleware glues CyberGIS components and corresponding services while managing the complexity of generic CI middleware. Spatial middleware, tailored to GIS and spatial analysis, is developed to capture important spatial characteristics of problems through the spatially explicit representation of computing, data, and communication intensity (collectively termed computational intensity), which enables GIS and spatial analysis to locate, allocate, and use CI resources effectively and efficiently. A CyberGIS implementation—GISolve—is developed to systematically integrate CI capabilities, including high-performance and distributed computing, data management and visualization, and virtual organization support. Currently, GISolve is deployed on the National Science Foundation TeraGrid, a key element of the U.S. and worldwide CI. A case study, motivated by an application in which geographic patterns of the impact of global climate change on large-scale crop yields are examined in the United States, focuses on assessing the computational performance of GISolve on resolving the computational intensity of a widely used spatial interpolation analysis that is conducted in a collaborative fashion. Computational experiments demonstrate that GISolve achieves a high-performance, distributed, and collaborative CyberGIS implementation.”

Luc Anselin becomes 1st Walter Isard Chair in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Luc Anselin is the founding director of ASU's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and the school's first Walter Isard Chair. (Photo by Dave Tevis)

When ASU’s Luc Anselin received a prize in 2006 for innovative work in regional science, his friend and mentor Walter Isard, a pioneer in that field, remarked at a dinner celebration that “Luc is an independent thinker, very independent. One day he said: ‘I’m not going to do any more theory with you. I’m going to do econometrics.’ And, of course, that decision he made was the proper one.”

Fast forward to today and Anselin, who is widely published on topics dealing with spatial and regional analysis, including a much cited book “Spatial Econometrics,” is the founding director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and the school’s first Walter Isard Chair.

The appointment was made by Elizabeth D. Capaldi, provost and executive vice president , who said: “Walter Isard is a leader in regional science, an early example of a new, interdisciplinary field of study to problems ranging from spatial economics to transportation to geographical information systems.

“As a scholar, Dr. Isard was a leader and innovator and as such this named Chair in his honor is most appropriate for Dr. Anselin, who is a leader at ASU. Dr. Anselin reflects the same commitment to advance new ideas across intellectual boundaries and encourage new perspectives on problems or our urban and rural environments,” Capaldi said.

Anselin, who joined ASU in July 2007, received his doctoral and master’s degrees in regional science from Cornell University. Isard, his graduate studies mentor, is an emeritus professor of economics and regional science at Cornell. When Anselin first came to Cornell to study with Isard, they both were engaged in pure theory.

“Dr. Isard forced his students to think and especially to think spatially, well before this term gained traction in the mainstream social sciences,” Anselin noted. “He was always challenging his student to push the envelope and to come up with creative solutions.”

Anselin, a Belgium native, added that “this was very different from the European tradition in which I was trained, but it was a refreshing experience that I now try to transfer to my own students.”

At ASU, Anselin serves as director of the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation, a research unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences devoted to the development, implementation and application of state-of-the-art methods of geospatial analysis to policy issues in the social and environmental sciences. Anselin is one of the principal developers of the fields of spatial econometrics and is best known for his applications SpaceStat and GeoDa.

“In my work, I took the spatial perspective to a very technical econometric area of application, which Dr. Isard never pursued, “Anselin said. “But, my initial interests in complexity and integrated modeling, especially including environmental aspects into economic models paralleled his, and, while I have not been active in this area for some years, I am now returning to it at ASU, working with colleagues in the GeoDa Center on regional models and include carbon footprint, energy and water, used together with the economics, while taking a spatially explicit approach.”

Isard often found himself at the hub of a network of scholars from economics, city planning, geography, sociology, political science and other social science fields, according to Anselin, who has held appointments in those same areas.

Being the Walter Isard Chair at ASU “is very humbling, but at the same time, it is an opportunity to stress the values he held: interdisciplinarity, creativity, and tolerance and appreciation for other points of view,” Anselin said. In addition to his work in economics and regional science, Isard also is credited as a founder of the disciplines of peace science. His current research interests are conflict management and regional economics and integrated multi-region and world ecologic-economic models.

Anselin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, as is Isard. “I am his only student to get elected to NAS. Dr. Isard was elected in 1985,” he said. Anselin also is a fellow in the Regional Science Association International. The association’s North American Regional Science Council presented Anselin with the William Alonso Memorial Prize in 2006 and the Walter Isard Award in 2005.

“The field of regional science is more relevant in the U.S. as it has ever been,” said Anselin, citing the White House Aug. 11, 2009, memorandum on “Developing Place-Based Policies.”

“In Europe, regional science has been very prominent in policymaking for years and is a very healthy academic field as well,” Anselin said. “My perspective is that computation is becoming ever more important and that is where we are positioning the GeoDa Center at ASU.”

[Source: ASU press release]

A Spatial Analysis of Land Use Change and Water Quality in Lake Biwa, Japan

Poster prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association 2010 AAEA, CAES, & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, July 25-27, 2010

Katsuya Tanaka and JunJie Wu

“Lake Biwa (670.49 Km2 in surface area) is the largest lake in Japan, formed about 400,000 years ago (Shiga Prefectural Government, 2008). Due to its long history, Lake Biwa is known as one of the oldest twenty lakes in the World. Lake Biwa has a high biodiversity, with approximately 600 animal species and 500 kinds of plants, including 58 endemic species such as Biwa trout.

“This lake is also a valuable water source for 14 million people in Kinki region including three major cities: Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. However, due to intensive agriculture and rapid urban development around Lake Biwa, water quality indicators such as chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total organic carbon (TCC) in the lake has declined significantly over the last 30 years.”