Spatial Data Exploration of Large-area VHR Satellite Classification Results and Derivates through Cartographic Visualization

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Tillmann Lübker, Johannes Klein, and Gertrud Schaab

“Kakamega Forest in western Kenya and its surrounding farmland was the main study area of the BIOTA East Africa project, which aimed at a sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in Africa []. For the highly structured agricultural land very high resolution (VHR) QuickBird imagery has been acquired covering 473 km². After thorough pre-processing including corrections of atmospheric and terrain influences as well as mosaicing of two adjacent image swaths [1], the imagery has been classified by means of object-based image analysis. During classification special focus was placed on the optimization of segmentation parameters [2] and the selection of relevant features as part of an integrative work-flow [3].”

The Steiner Multigraph Problem: Wildlife Corridor Design for Multiple Species

Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Special Track on Computational Sustainability and AI, (AAAI-11) 2011

Katherine J. Lai, Carla P. Gomes, Michael K. Schwartz, Kevin S. McKelvey, David E. Calkin, and Claire A. Montgomery

“The conservation of wildlife corridors between existing habitat preserves is important for combating the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation facing species of concern. We introduce the Steiner Multigraph Problem to model the problem of minimum-cost wildlife corridor design for multiple species with different landscape requirements. This problem can also model other analogous settings in wireless and social networks. As a generalization of Steiner forest, the goal is to find a minimum-cost subgraph that connects multiple sets of terminals. In contrast to Steiner forest, each set of terminals can only be connected via a subset of the nodes. Generalizing Steiner forest in this way makes the problem NP-hard even when restricted to two pairs of terminals. However, we show that if the node subsets have a nested structure, the problem admits a fixed-parameter tractable algorithm in the number of terminals.We successfully test exact and heuristic solution approaches on a wildlife corridor instance for wolverines and lynx in western Montana, showing that though the problem is computationally hard, heuristics perform well, and provably optimal solutions can still be obtained.”

Census 2010 Data Is Instantly Usable in Maps and Easy-to-Read Reports

Esri has announced its first release of Census 2010 data. This release includes not only Census 2010 Redistricting data, but also updated 2010 geographic boundaries.  Census 2010 data is available immediately from Esri in reports, dynamic color-coded maps, Smart Map Search, and in geographies that are not available from the Census Bureau.

“Esri is doing more than providing our users with 2010 Census data,” says Catherine Spisszak, Esri Data product manager. “We are providing 2010 Census data in a way they can actually use it—in easy-to-read reports, powerful maps, and in nonstandard geographies.”

For ease of use, the Census 2010 Profile report from Esri Business Analyst Online (BAO) and Community Analyst displays the data in counts and percentages for any geography. Mapping tools in Business Analyst Online and Community Analyst enable users to quickly thematically map the Census 2010 data in 2010 geography by selecting colors, ranges, and the zoom level.

In addition to mapping tools, Esri provides Census 2010 data for geographies not supplied by the Census Bureau, such as ZIP Codes and user-defined polygons, including drive times, rings, and hand-drawn trade areas.

Esri also provides the Census 2010 data for standard census geographies such as states, counties, census tracts, and block groups.

Subscribers and guest users can access the Census 2010 data immediately in Business Analyst Online and Community Analyst. Business Analyst Desktop users can access the Census 2010 data by choosing the Show Online Reports option from Preferences. Business Analyst Server users can integrate the Census 2010 data and reports instantly via the Business Analyst Online APIs.

To learn more, visit or call 1-800-447-9778.

[Source: Esri press release]

Clark University Geography Program Top Ranked in the Nation

The doctorate program at the Clark University Graduate School of Geography is top-ranked in the nation by the National Research Council (NRC).

In April, the NRC released an update to its Data-Based Assessment on Research Doctorate Programs in the United States, a complex and long-anticipated assessment first published in September 2010. Clark ranks at the top with UCLA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Clark stands out among the 49 geography doctoral programs evaluated in the NRC report as the only top-10 department that is housed within a liberal arts research university, and as one of a small number of departments that sustains a balanced program of research and education across the full breadth of the discipline.

As the oldest, sustained doctoral program in Geography in the country, Clark Geography has granted the largest number of doctoral degrees in the United States and is consistently ranked among the top programs and sustains its reputation in various polls and peer-review rankings.

Clark Geography faculty and students have established themselves as global leaders in innovative, theory-driven research spanning geography’s subfields (urban-economic, human-environment, earth-system sciences, Geographic Information Science). Clark’s new president, David Angel, is an economic geographer.

Clark doctoral alumni achieve prominent academic and senior non-academic research positions (e.g., NASA). Many international alumni hold important government positions in their home countries (e.g., European Commission) or with non-profit organizations (e.g., National Coffee Growers’ Federation in Colombia).

Clark University is a teaching and research institution founded in 1887 as the first all-graduate school in the United States. Until Clark instituted undergraduate programs in 1902, the university offered only Ph.D. granting programs. Clark is also one of the oldest universities to offer formal graduate programs, second only to Johns Hopkins University.

The NRC assessment is based on a variety of data, including faculty research funding, publications, faculty composition, program size, and others. The doctoral programs assessed were scored within two major categories: peer-to-peer survey assessment and objective categories. The updated NRC report also ranks Clark University among the top in a number of objective categories, including percentage of students with external fellowships, average number of Ph.D. graduates, percentage of international students, diversity, faculty performance and awards, research activity and citations per faculty publication.

To learn more, visit the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, or contact

[Source: Clark University press release]

UCSB Part of World’s Largest Ocean Radar Network

A network of high-frequency radar systems, designed for mapping ocean surface currents, is now providing detailed data on coastal ocean dynamics along the U.S. West Coast.

Currents in the Santa Barbara Channel and toward Los Angeles, captured by the West Coast High-Frequency Radar Network. Radar site locations are pictured along the coast. Credit: Washburn research group.

UC Santa Barbara is part of the multi-institution research consortium that created the radar network, which has grown over the last decade from a few radar antennas to what is now considered the largest network of its kind in the world. The 78 radar antennas cover 1,500 miles of shoreline –– from Astoria, Wash., to Tijuana, Mexico. The system was completed over the past five years, and a new study using the system was recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research –– Oceans.

“We’re using the array to study coastal circulation of the ocean,” said Libe Washburn, oceanographer and professor of geography at UCSB. “It’s a really great technology, because it allows us to see how the water is moving within about a hundred miles of the coastline. Many scientific projects have benefitted from the data. A lot of the work I do relies on the data to interpret other types of observations that we have. Data from the systems are also used by oil spill responders, and the Coast Guard uses it in their search and rescue operations.”

Each of the 78 sites has transmit and receive antennas. The transmit antenna sends out radio waves over the ocean surface. By looking at the returned signals, the scientists can determine the speed and direction of currents over large areas of the ocean’s surface. “It’s very low-power transmission, no more than 50 watts and much less than commercial broadcasts,” said Washburn.

“This radar network provides the detailed coastal surface circulation and ocean dynamics at a resolution –– kilometers in space and hourly in time –– never before resolved,” said Sung Yong Kim, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and lead author of the scientific publication.

“We are looking at all of the physical processes, like the wind and the tides, wave phenomena, and eddies, that cause the ocean to circulate,” said Washburn. “There are a lot of processes that are much stronger in the coastal ocean than in the open ocean. There is a broad range of subtle wave phenomena, and we think they are important for regulating certain ecological processes. That’s one of the things we are aiming to learn –– how these waves work and what their ecological consequences might be.”

David Salazar assembling a transmit antenna near Point Sal on Vandenburg Air Force Base. Credit: Brian Emery, UCSB.

The researchers can observe “coastal trapped waves” with the radar network. These are waves that travel along the coast and can last for periods of several days to a few weeks –– unlike the more familiar wind waves and ocean swells which have periods of about seven to 20 seconds. They are long waves that are caused by wind and come from as far south as Baja California.

The researchers performed a multi-year synthesis of surface current observations, provided through a centralized data center designed and operated by Scripps in support of NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System. Scientists have known for years that currents at the ocean’s surface are governed by a complex combination of factors including coastal tides, winds, Earth’s rotation, synoptic ocean signals, and interactions of these forces. However, the relative contributions of these drivers are very location-specific and difficult to predict.

The authors report that the research effort is a “network of networks” expanded within the oceanographic community through funding from multiple agencies. The state of California and NOAA provided much of the funding for the network, but the National Science Foundation, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, private foundations, and the Office of Naval Research have all contributed to the researchers’ efforts in the past decade.

Washburn noted that in California there are two organizations which operate the system. These are the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) and the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS). In Oregon and Washington, the Northwest Association of Networked Observing Systems (NANOOS) contributes to the project. All of three organizations provide a wealth of ocean data over the internet.

Left to right: Brian Emery, Libe Washburn, Cyril Johnson, Nick Dellaripa (Not pictured: David Salazar and Chris Gotschalk.) Credit: George Foulsham, Office of Public Affairs.

In addition to Washburn and Kim, contributing authors include Burt Jones, USC; Mark Moline, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Jeffrey Paduan, the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif.; Newell Garfield, San Francisco State University; John Largier, UC Davis-Bodega Marine Laboratory; Greg Crawford, Humboldt State University (now at Vancouver Island University in Canada); Michael Kosro, Oregon State University; and Eric Terrill and Bruce Cornuelle, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Washburn’s research group includes Brian Emery and Chris Gotschalk, both programmer analysts; Cyril Johnson, engineer; David Salazar, marine technician; and Nick Dellaripa, graduate student in UCSB’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science.

[Source: UCSB press release]

Fading Inner Suburbs? A Historio-Spatial Analysis of Prosperity Indicators in the Urban Zones of the 15 Largest Census Metropolitan Areas

University of Waterloo Masters Thesis, Approved 16 May 2011

Dejan Pavlic

“The possibility of urban decline in metropolitan post-war inner suburbs is currently being examined in the planning literature, particularly in the United States. Inner suburbs are built between 1946 and 1971 and are therefore older and structurally different from the later suburbs. At the same time, they lack the amenities of the core and the inner cities. This thesis aims to examine whether inner suburban decline is occurring in Canada. 15 largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) are selected for the purpose of this study. All CMAs are then separated into five urban zones: the core, the inner suburbs, the outer suburbs, and the fringe/exurbs. All zones are then assessed for decline based on relative changes in median household income, average dwelling values, and average gross rent in the period between 1986 and 2006. Subsequently, nine of the largest CMAs are also assessed for declines in the prosperity factor and the exclusivity factor. These variables are extracted via a factor analysis which includes variables measuring demographic, socio-economic, and housing characteristics. Results indicate that inner suburbs declined in median household income, the average value of dwelling, and the prosperity factor measures. In contrast, average gross rent and the exclusivity factor showed less clear results. Overall, the results obtained in this study suggest that Canada’s inner suburbs are experiencing decline. The possible causes of inner suburban decline remain poorly understood. A number of possible explanations are offered, ranging from the lack of urban appeal of the inner suburbs, the decline of the industrial employment sector, to aging housing stock, the movement of displaced low-income immigrants, and the aging of seniors with limited income. More research is necessary in order to establish plausible mechanisms beyond preliminary speculation. A number of policy approaches to inner suburban decline are outlined. Emphasis is placed on the revitalization of housing, greater cooperation between metropolitan regions and implementation of smart growth strategies. Further research avenues include the confirmation of the phenomenon in Canada, as well as policy case studies examining the success of planning approaches in arresting inner suburban decline.”