Prototyping an Online Wetland Ecosystem Services Model using Open Model Sharing Standards

Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 26 Issue 4, April 2011

Min Feng, Shuguang Liu, Ned H. Euliss, Jr., Claudia Young, and David M. Mushet

“Great interest currently exists for developing ecosystem models to forecast how ecosystem services may change under alternative land use and climate futures. Ecosystem services are diverse and include supporting services or functions (e.g., primary production, nutrient cycling), provisioning services (e.g., wildlife, groundwater), regulating services (e.g., water purification, floodwater retention), and even cultural services (e.g., ecotourism, cultural heritage). Hence, the knowledge base necessary to quantify ecosystem services is broad and derived from many diverse scientific disciplines. Building the required interdisciplinary models is especially challenging as modelers from different locations and times may develop the disciplinary models needed for ecosystem simulations, and these models must be identified and made accessible to the interdisciplinary simulation. Additional difficulties include inconsistent data structures, formats, and metadata required by geospatial models as well as limitations on computing, storage, and connectivity. Traditional standalone and closed network systems cannot fully support sharing and integrating interdisciplinary geospatial models from variant sources. To address this need, we developed an approach to openly share and access geospatial computational models using distributed Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques and open geospatial standards. We included a means to share computational models compliant with Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Processing Services (WPS) standard to ensure modelers have an efficient and simplified means to publish new models. To demonstrate our approach, we developed five disciplinary models that can be integrated and shared to simulate a few of the ecosystem services (e.g., water storage, waterfowl breeding) that are provided by wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America.”

GIS-Based Evaluation of Soybean Growing Areas Suitability in China

IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 2011, Volume 346, Computer and Computing Technologies in Agriculture IV, Pages 357-366

Wenying He, Sen Yang, Rui Guo, Yaxiong Chen and Weihong Zhou, et al.

“In this study, the suitable areas for soybean in China were presented by GIS-based Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) approach. We collected datas of environmental conditions and soybean growth associated factors, then, by the GIS technology we established spatial database of regional weather, topography, and soil conditions. Using the Spatial Analyst, the Spatial Interpolation, the Reclassification and the Weighted Overlayof ARCGIS9.2 operated to the database. Then the suitable criteria map of soybean in China was created, and the potential suitability of soybean planting areas was evaluated. The results showing 5,960,271 km2 of areas are fit for spring soybean and 5,286,643 km2 of areas are fit for summer soybean in the Northeast Plain, the Huang-Huai Plain and the Yangtze River Delta, in addition, there are lots of scattered suitable areas for soybean cultivation. This present study was aimed to provide some value references for Government formulating policies on the adjustment of industrial structure, and some reasonable guidance for farmers cultivating the agricultural products, more importantly, to achieve the purpose of utilizing natural resources reasonably.”

Modelling Sustainability

Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, Volume 81 Issue 7, March 2011

Vladislav Todorov and Dora Marinova

“The article presents a general classification of the models being developed in the area of sustainability arguing that the existing models represent the historical conceptualisation of sustainability starting from environmental constraints and moving towards economic valuation and social behaviour and policies. Coupled with computer power, sophisticated models with a varying levels of complexity have also been developed (static/dynamic; local/global; specific/general). However as any model is a simplification of the complex reality, the main purpose of any sustainability modelling (and the newly emerging area of sustainometrics) should be to allow dynamic representation, including the co-evolution of the sustainability systems and the role of humans as sustainability guardians.”

Grid-enabled Spatial Data Infrastructure for Environmental Sciences: Challenges and Opportunities

Future Generation Computer Systems, Volume 27 Issue 3, March 2011

Gregory Giuliani, Nicolas Ray, and Anthony Lehmann

“Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) are being widely used in the environmental sciences to share, discover, visualize and retrieve geospatial data through Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web services. However, SDIs have limited analytical capabilities, an essential task to turn data into understandable information. Geospatial data are typically processed on desktop computers, but their limited power limits the types of analyses that can be conducted given ever-increasing amounts of high resolution data. With the recently introduced Web Processing Service and the availability of large storage and computing facilities offered by Grid infrastructures, new opportunities are emerging within the environmental sciences communities. The enviroGRIDS project, funded by the European Commission ”Seventh Framework Programme” (EU/FP7), will target these issues.”

Johann Lambert’s Classic “Notes and Comments on the Composition of Terrestrial and Celestial Maps” Republished

Notes and Comments on the Composition of Terrestrial and Celestial Maps, recently republished by Esri Press, brings to light the work of Johann Heinrich Lambert, a man whose work constitutes the beginning of the modern period in mathematical cartography.

The original German edition, published in 1772, introduced several distinct map projections created by Lambert that are still in use today. Unavailable for several years, the 1972 English translation by noted geographer Waldo R. Tobler has been enhanced to include an expanded preface and updated reference section in its new release.

“The subject of map projections has seen important contributions from many remarkable individuals, with Johann Lambert [being] one of the foremost authorities,” says Tobler.

Tobler is a leading geographer and cartographer who has authored and coauthored many influential articles and papers on cartography and map projections. He is professor emeritus in geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Notes and Comments on the Composition of Terrestrial and Celestial Maps (ISBN: 978-1-58948-281-4, 132 pages, $24.95) is available at online retailers worldwide, at, or by calling 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, visit for complete ordering options, or visit to contact your local Esri distributor. Interested retailers can contact Esri Press book distributor Ingram Publisher Services.

Through its Classic Series, Esri Press preserves important scholarship in the field of cartography by republishing seminal texts that are no longer in print. Other books in this series include Semiology of Graphics by Jacques Bertin, The Look of Maps by Arthur H. Robinson, and Cartographic Relief Presentation by Eduard Imhof.

[Source: Esri press release]

WHRC Debuts Detailed Maps of Forest Canopy Height and Carbon Stock for the Conterminous US

First hectare-scale maps of canopy height, aboveground biomass and associated carbon stock for the forests and woodlands of the conterminous United States

The Woods Hole Research Center has released the first hectare-scale maps of canopy height, aboveground biomass, and associated carbon stock for the forests and woodlands of the conterminous United States. The multi-year project, referred to as the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset (NBCD), produced maps of these key forest attributes at an unprecedented spatial resolution of 30 m. The digital raster data set is now freely accessible from the WHRC website at

According to Dr. Josef Kellndorfer, who led the project at WHRC, “We are excited about the completion of this mapping project. The dataset represents a comprehensive assessment of forest structure and carbon stock within the lower 48 States at the beginning of the third millennium, providing an important baseline with which to improve our understanding of the United States forest resources and its link to the terrestrial carbon flux in North America. This dataset will be useful to foresters, wildlife ecologists, resource managers, and scientists alike.”

Volker Radeloff, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, added, “Vegetation structure data has been the holy grail for biodiversity science: absolutely essential, but unattainable for large areas. The NBCD data set fills this crucial gap and will advance of our understanding of why biodiversity is so much higher in some areas than others, and target biodiversity conservation efforts.”

The project was initiated in 2005 with funding from NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology Program as well as support from the USGS/LANDFIRE consortium. Collaborators included the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program, and the National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2001) and National Elevation Dataset (NED) project teams at the USGS EROS Data Center.

To produce this first-of-its-kind data set, NASA space-borne imagery (SRTM/Landsat-7), land use/land cover information (NLCD 2001), topographic survey data (NED), and extensive forest inventory data (FIA) were combined. Production of the NBCD followed an ecoregional mapping zone approach developed for the NLCD 2001 project. Across 66 individual mapping zones, spatial data, field observations, and statistical models were used to generate the canopy height, aboveground biomass, and carbon stock maps, which were then joined to form national-scale products.

“This effort is an excellent example of FIA partnering to marry ground and remotely-sensed data to provide natural resource information at resolutions much finer than the FIA sampling frame,” said Dennis May, Forest Inventory and Analysis program manager with the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station.

Dr. Wayne Walker, a Center scientist who also worked on the project, added, “Maps of key forest attributes like canopy height and carbon stock have not existed for the U.S. at this level of spatial detail and consistency. They will provide ecologists and land managers with new and better information to support biodiversity conservation, wildfire risk assessment, and timber production while helping climate scientists and others to better understand the role that U.S. forests play in the global carbon cycle.”

According to Kellndorfer, “This dataset will advance our understanding of the United States natural resources, provide an invaluable circa year 2000 baseline against which to assess changes in the future, and help to improve our understanding of the drivers for change, and thus supporting good decision making. Naturally we are keen to produce the next generation data sets of this kind to assess in detail how carbon stock and forest structures are changing in this country, and internationally. We look forward to working¬¬ with an ever growing community of colleagues in the U.S. and abroad on pushing the science of understanding the World’s forests forward.”

Dr. Kellndorfer’s research focuses on the monitoring and assessment of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and the dissemination of Earth observation findings to policy makers through education and capacity building. Using geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and modeling, he studies land-use, land cover and climate change on a regional and global scale. His projects include carbon and biomass mapping of the United States, mapping forest cover across the tropical forested regions of Africa, Latin and Asia through the generation of consistent data sets of high-resolution, cloud-free radar imagery. He is a Senior Scientist at the Center. Before joining the WHRC, Kellndorfer was a research scientist with the Radiation Laboratory in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He holds a diploma degree in physical geography and a doctorate in geosciences from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany. He serves on various expert working groups within NASA, the Group on Earth Observation, and GOFC-GOLD addressing forest carbon measurements in vegetation from remote sensing with existing and future remote sensing and field measurements.

Dr. Walker is an ecologist and remote sensing specialist interested in applications of satellite imagery to the assessment and monitoring of temperate and tropical ecosystems at regional to global scales. His research focuses on measuring and mapping forest structural attributes, land cover/land use change and terrestrial carbon stocks in support of habitat management, ecosystem conservation and carbon-cycle science. He is committed to building institutional capacity in the tools and techniques used to measure and monitor forests, working in collaboration with governments, NGOs and indigenous communities across the tropics. He is an Assistant Scientist at the Center. Walker holds degrees in forest ecology (M.S.) and remote sensing (Ph.D.) from the University of Michigan.

[Source: Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) press release]

Land Use/Cover Change and Driving Force Analyses in Parts of Northern Iran using RS and GIS Techniques

Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 2011, Volume 4, Numbers 3-4, Pages 401-411

Ataollah Kelarestaghi and Zeinab Jafarian Jeloudar

“To accomplish integrated watershed management and land use planning, it is necessary to study the dynamic spatial pattern of land use and cover change related to socioeconomical and physical parameters. In this study, land use and cover change detection was applied to the Lajimrood Drainage Basin in northern parts of Iran, an area characterized by rich and diversified agricultural and forest mosaic. The main of changes in the study area were forest–arable land transformation, which was only considered in this study. In order to detect these changes, at first, based on 1:25,000 digital topographic maps dated 1967 and 1994 and ETM+ satellite image dated 2002, land use map in these three dates were prepared. The results showed that the area with forest land use decreased about 3.2% in transition 1967–2002. Also, arable land increased about 36.9%. We suggested a method to analyze the driving forces and the spatial distribution of land use change. The maps of elevation, slope, and aspect were derived and classified by using digital elevation model (DEM). Also, the maps of distance from road, drainage network, and building area were selected as socioeconomical factors. These maps were overlaid and crossed with land use change map and land use change area ratio was computed. The results showed that the elevation, slope, and aspect were physical effective factors in land use changing. Also, by increasing the distance from building area and roads, deforestation rate was reduced.”

Automated Surveillance of 911 Call Data for Detection of Possible Water Contamination Incidents

International Journal of Health Geographics, 2011, 10:22 (30 March 2011)

Haas AJ, Gibbons D, Dangel C, and Allgeier S

“Background: Drinking water contamination, with the capability to affect large populations, poses a significant risk to public health. In recent water contamination events, the impact of contamination on public health appeared in data streams monitoring health-seeking behavior. While public health surveillance has traditionally focused on the detection of pathogens, developing methods for detection of illness from fast-acting chemicals has not been an emphasis.

“Methods: An automated surveillance system was implemented for Cincinnati’s drinking water contamination warning system to monitor health-related 911 calls in the city of Cincinnati. Incident codes indicative of possible water contamination were filtered from all 911 calls for analysis. The 911 surveillance system uses a space-time scan statistic to detect potential water contamination incidents. The frequency and characteristics of the 911 alarms over a 2.5 year period were studied.

“Results: During the evaluation, 85 alarms occurred, although most occurred prior to the implementation of an additional alerting constraint in May 2009. Data were available for analysis approximately 48 minutes after calls indicating alarms may be generated 1-2 hours after a rapid increase in call volume. Most alerts occurred in areas of high population density. The average alarm area was 9.22 square kilometers. The average number of cases in an alarm was nine calls.

“Conclusions: The 911 surveillance system provides timely notification of possible public health events, but did have limitations. While the alarms contained incident codes and location of the caller, additional information such as medical status was not available to assist validating the cause of the alarm. Furthermore, users indicated that a better understanding of 911 system functionality is necessary to understand how it would behave in an actual water contamination event.”

Linking Sensor Web Enablement and Web Processing Technology for Health-Environment Studies

ISW-2011: Integrating Sensor Web and Web-based Geoprocessing, An AGILE 2011 Conference Workshop; Utrecht, The Netherlands, April 18, 2011

Simon Jirka, Stefan Wiemann, Johannes Brauner, and Eike Hinderk Jürrens

“This paper introduces an approach how the Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) framework of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) can be coupled with geo-processing services (OGC Web Processing Service – WPS) in order to support health-environment studies. By presenting selected use cases of the EO2HEAVEN project it will be explained how SWE services can be used as a source of real-time observation data and how these data sets can be analysed in a process chain encapsulated by a WPS.”