Pollution of River Mahaweli and Farmlands Under Irrigation by Cadmium from Agricultural Inputs Leading to a Chronic Renal Failure Epidemic among Farmers in NCP, Sri Lanka

Environmental Geochemistry and HealthEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health, 2011, Volume 33, Number 5, Pages 439-453

J. M. R. S. Bandara, H. V. P. Wijewardena, Y. M. A. Y. Bandara, R. G. P. T. Jayasooriya, and H. Rajapaksha

“Chronic renal failure (CRF) associated with elevated dietary cadmium (Cd) among farming communities in the irrigated agricultural area under the River Mahaweli diversion scheme has reached a significantly higher level of 9,000 patients. Cadmium, derived from contaminated phosphate fertilizer, in irrigation water finds its way into reservoirs, and finally to food, causing chronic renal failure among consumers. Water samples of River Mahaweli and its tributaries in the upper catchment were analyzed to assess the total cadmium contamination of river water and the possible source of cadmium. Except a single tributary (Ulapane Stream, 3.9 μg Cd/l), all other tested tributaries carried more than 5 μg Cd/l, the maximum concentration level accepted to be safe in drinking water. Seven medium-sized streams carrying surface runoff from tea estates had 5.1–10 μg Cd/l. Twenty larger tributaries (Oya), where the catchment is under vegetable and home garden cultivation, carried 10.1–15 μg Cd/l. Nine other major tributaries had extremely high levels of Cd, reaching 20 μg Cd/l.

Upper River Mahaweli catchment and the tributaries of the river, depicting the sampling points

Upper River Mahaweli catchment and the tributaries of the river, depicting the sampling points

“Using geographic information system (GIS), the area in the catchment of each tributary was studied. The specific cropping system in each watershed was determined. The total cadmium loading from each crop area was estimated using the rates and types of phosphate fertilizer used by the respective farmers and the amount of cadmium contained in each type of fertilizer used. Eppawala rock phosphate (ERP), which is mostly used in tea estates, caused least pollution. The amount of cadmium in tributaries had a significant positive correlation with the cadmium loading of the cropping system. Dimbula Tea Estate Stream had the lowest Cd loading (495.9 g/ha/year), compared with vegetable-growing areas in Uma Oya catchment with 50,852.5 g Cd/ha/year. Kendall’s τ rank correlation value of total Cd loading from the catchment by phosphate fertilizer used in all crops in the catchment to the Cd content in the tributaries was +0.48. This indicated a major contribution by the cropping system in the upper catchment area of River Mahaweli to the eventual Cd pollution of river water. Low soil pH (4.5–5.2), higher organic matter content (2–3%), and 18–20 cmol/kg cation exchange capacity (CEC) in upcountry soil have a cumulative effect in the easy release of Cd from soil with the heavy surface runoff in the upcountry wet zone. In view of the existing water conveyance system from upcountry to reservoirs in North Central Province (NCP) through diversion of River Mahaweli, in addition to their own nonpoint pollution by triple superphosphate fertilizer (TSP), this demands a change in overall upper catchment management to minimize Cd pollution through agriculture inputs to prevent CRF due to elevated dietary cadmium among NCP farmers.”

Speak Up For Geography! The 10,000 Letter Challenge

National Geographic Society“As you know, our nation is facing a crisis in geographic literacy. American young adults rank at the bottom in geographic literacy surveys of the world’s most developed countries and 63% of them cannot locate Iraq on a map of the Middle East (Roper Poll, 2006).

“So please join the public campaign “Speak Up For Geography: The 10,000 Letter Challenge”. The goal of the 10,000 Letter Challenge is simple: to send 10,000 letters to Congress in support of the bipartisan Teaching Geography is Fundamental (TGIF) Act by November 18, 2011. This date marks the ending of Geography Awareness Week 2011 and the last day of the Congressional session before the Thanksgiving recess. It’s easy to send letters to Members of Congress at http://speakupforgeography.org.

“The Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act provides teacher professional development to improve students’ understanding of the world in which they live. You can join other supporters–including the Association of American Geographers, National Council for Geographic Education, United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, ESRI, and the National Geographic Society–by letting Congress know that the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act is important to you. For free downloads of 10,000 Letter Challenge resources–display ads, postcards, flyers, and a widget–go to https://sites.google.com/site/speakupforgeography/.

“Ask others to join the Challenge by blogging, podcasting, and tweeting about SpeakUpForGeography.org. Post the widget on your website. Spread the message that the time to act is now!

“Geographically yours,


Waverly C. Ray
Grosvenor Scholar
Education Programs
National Geographic Society

Aquaculture Site Selection for Japanese Kelp (Laminaria japonica) in Southern Hokkaido, Japan, using Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS-based Models

 ICES Journal of Marine ScienceICES Journal of Marine Science, Volume 68, Issue 4, Pp. 773-780, 2011

I Nyoman Radiarta1, Sei-Ichi Saitoh1, and Hajime Yasui

“Japanese kelp (Laminaria japonica) is an important species cultured and harvested in Japan. The most suitable areas for hanging culture in southern Hokkaido were determined using geographic information system (GIS) models and a multicriteria evaluation approach. Analyses of physical parameters (sea surface temperature and suspended solid from SeaWiFS and MODIS) and available bathymetric data indicated that some 74% (1139 km2) of the total potential area with bottom depths <60 m had the two highest suitability scores. A local sensitivity analysis indicated that suspended solids were more important than temperature in affecting model output. This study demonstrates that GIS databases of different formats and sources can be used effectively to construct spatial models for kelp aquaculture.”

Mapping Rice Planting Areas in Southern China using the China Environment Satellite Data

Mathematical and Computer ModellingMathematical and Computer Modelling, Volume 54, Issues 3-4, August 2011, pp. 1037-1043

Jinsong Chen, Jianxi Huang, and Jinxing Hu

“The objective of this research is to investigate the potential of application of China Environment Satellite HJ-1A/B in monitoring rice cultivation areas in Guangdong province in southern China. Information on the rice cultivation areas is of global economic and environmental significance. A CCD camera sensor with 30 m spatial resolution onboard China Environment Satellite HJ-1A and B has visible and near infrared bands and a revisit period of four days; the temporal Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) can therefore be obtained from HJ-1A and B data.

HJ-1A image of the study area on March 12 (red: band 3, green: band 4; blue: band 1).

HJ-1A image of the study area on March 12 (red: band 3, green: band 4; blue: band 1).

“The characteristics of the temporal NDVI derived from HJ-1A and B images of rice fields and other crops at rice growth stages in the western part of Guangdong province of China with an area of about 67000 km2 were first analyzed in this research and an algorithm for mapping paddy rice fields was developed based on the temporal changes of NDVI of rice fields from January to July, 2009. The mapping result was evaluated by field survey and the data from China Ministry of Agriculture and the promising accuracy was found with a Kappa factor of 0.71. The result of this study suggests that the China Environment Satellite HJ-1A/B has great potential in the development of an operational system for monitoring rice crop growth in southern China.”

Combining Remote Sensing and GIS Climate Modelling to Estimate Daily Forest Evapotranspiration in a Mediterranean Mountain Area

Hydrology and Earth System Sciences DiscussionsHydrology and Earth Systems Science, 15(5), 1563-1575, 2011

J. Cristobal, R. Poyatos, M. Ninyerola, P. Llorens, and X. Pons

“Evapotranspiration monitoring allows us to assess the environmental stress on forest and agricultural ecosystems. Nowadays, Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are the main techniques used for calculating evapotranspiration at catchment and regional scales. In this study we present a methodology, based on the energy balance equation (B-method), that combines remote sensing imagery with GIS-based climate modelling to estimate daily evapotranspiration (ET(d)) for several dates between 2003 and 2005.

Location of SMC meteorological stations and Vallcebre research catchments.

Location of SMC meteorological stations and Vallcebre research catchments in Universal Transversal Mercator (UTM) projection (UTM coordinates are expressed in km). The white dots are meteorological stations from the SMC that include air temperature sensors, the black dots are meteorological stations from the SMC that include net radiation sensors, and the black triangle indicates the Vallcebre research catchments.

“The three main variables needed to compute ET(d) were obtained as follows: (i) Land surface temperature by means of the Landsat-5 TM and Landsat-7 ETM+ thermal band, (ii) air temperature by means of multiple regression analysis and spatial interpolation from meteorological ground stations data at satellite pass, and (iii) net radiation by means of the radiative balance. We calculated ET(d) using remote sensing data at different spatial and temporal scales (Landsat-7 ETM+, Landsat-5 TM and TERRA/AQUA MODIS, with a spatial resolution of 60, 120 and 1000 m, respectively) and combining three different approaches to calculate the B parameter, which represents an average bulk conductance for the daily-integrated sensible heat flux. We then compared these estimates with sap flow measurements from a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand in a Mediterranean mountain area. This procedure allowed us to better understand the limitations of ET(d) modelling and how it needs to be improved, especially in heterogeneous forest areas. The method using Landsat data resulted in a good agreement, R(2) test of 0.89, with a mean RMSE value of about 0.6 mm day(-1) and an estimation error of +/- 30 %. The poor agreement obtained using TERRA/AQUA MODIS, with a mean RMSE value of 1.8 and 2.4 mm day(-1) and an estimation error of about +/- 57 and 50 %, respectively. This reveals that ET(d) retrieval from coarse resolution remote sensing data is troublesome in these heterogeneous areas, and therefore further research is necessary on this issue. Finally, implementing regional GIS-based climate models as inputs in ET(d) retrieval have has provided good results, making possible to compute ET(d) at regional scales.”

Spatial Analysis for Identifying Hotspots of EDC and PPCP Sources for Developing Monitoring Systems

International Water Association  - Specialist ConferenceDIPCON2011, 18-23 September 2011, Rotorua, New Zealand

M.J. Park and M-H. Park

“Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are emerging contaminants of increasing concern. Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are considered as the primary EDC/PPCP contaminant sources while other significant sources may include nonpoint sources such as agriculture and urban runoff (Jjemba, 2008). Therefore, a watershed approach to considering all these sources is necessary to develop effective monitoring and management strategies for EDCs and PPCPs. This study aims to identify EDC/PPCP sources and hotspots using geographic information system (GIS) spatial analysis.”

Spatial analysis for identifying hotspots of EDC and PPCP  sources for developing monitoring systems

Temporal and Spatial Analysis of Social Inequalities: An Innovative Method to Grasp Social Inequalities Evolution on the Territory

CEPS/INSTEADCEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper No 2011-47, Octobre 2011

Sébastien Lord, Philippe Gerber, Christophe Sohn, Thierry Eggerickx, Jean-Pierre Hermia, Chris Kesteloot, Tim Cassiers, and Filip De Maesschalck

“This paper puts forward a methodology to rank the population along a hierarchical continuum, from a lower level to a higher level of social precariousness. Going beyond the complex layered issues related to the concept of poverty, it rather explores the notion of deprivation with the idea of social inequalities which are observable according to specific socio-economic key dimensions. Part of a broader research – Destiny1 – focusing on both the spatial and the temporal evolutions of social inequalities in Belgium and Luxembourg, this method represents a first phase of the project.

Territorial inequalities in housing for Luxembourg and Belgium in 2001

Territorial inequalities in housing for Luxembourg and Belgium in 2001

“The social inequalities are addressed in an individual perspective with disaggregated data. This standpoint allowed the analysis of the whole population for Belgium and Luxembourg in a ten-year period (1991 and 2001). The method is based, on the one hand, on the national censuses from both countries – the only comprehensive data available on an individual basis –, and on the second hand, on the European Union – Study on Income and Living Conditions Panel (EUSILC). These two data sources have been combined for accessing economic information from EU-SILC and transposed into the national censuses in both countries. The EU-SILC detailed data on household income were used as an indicator of social inequalities for three dimensions: education, socio-professional status and housing. This enabled to rank each individual on a “social continuum”. After a presentation of the methodological framework, individual ranking results are exposed and discussed on the basis of spatial analysis.”

UCGIS 2012 Spring Symposium GIScience 2.0, May 30-June 1, Washington DC

UCGIS Let’s get to work creating GIScience 2.0

GIScience has had a profound influence on society over the past 20 years. During 2011, UCGIS has been considering its 15-year history and its vision for the future. This Spring, come join us in Washington and help us create the next generation of GIScience! We are combining the traditional winter and summer meetings into a single 3 day event that will bring the community together to advance GIScience research, education, and policy.

  • Share your ideas about the future of GIScience in a 5-minute “lightning talk” on research, education, or policy
  • Build relationships between the GIScience academy and federal government in a UCGIS Geospatial Extension Project workshop
  • Engage formally and informally with a diverse community of GIScience scholars
  • Form or join a working group to solve major challenges in research, education, and policy
  • Develop plans for collaborative grant proposals
  • Chart your personal role in helping our discipline become stronger

Twenty years from now, you’ll be able to say, “I was there for the birth of GIScience 2.0.”

Save the date! More information about the program and award nominations will be distributed soon.

For more information, contact the program organizers, Brandon Plewe (plewe@byu.edu) or Kathleen Stewart (kathleen-stewart@uiowa.edu).


Integrating Geographic Information Systems in Business School Curriculum: An Initial Example

Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative EducationDecision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, Volume 9, Issue 3, September 2011

Michael A. King and Andrew N. Arnette

“Geographic information systems have experienced rapid growth and user adoption over the last four decades, due to an increasing value to the business community. However, business schools are not teaching geospatial concepts and the related location intelligence to their students. This curriculum decision seems completely at odds with business’ day-to-day dependence on a wide array of geographic information system applications. Business schools typically teach relational and object-oriented database courses, quantitative methods, decision supports systems, and Visual Basic for Applications, which are all directly related to the basic concepts of geographic information systems. In addition, these concepts are all part of location intelligence, a more business intuitive term than geospatial analysis. Spatial data modeling is discussed and compared to standard data modeling frameworks such as ANSI/SPARC. Geographic standards are introduced, along with an overview of the OpenGIS Simple Features Specification for SQL. A discussion of how to utilize MySQL open source database software for spatial queries is included, along with a comparison to PostgreSQL/PostGIS. Through the use of these software programs and the techniques introduced in this article, it is possible to integrate the concepts of location intelligence into business curriculum without requiring students to learn new GIS-specific programs. Enhancing student knowledge of this subject area through existing skill sets provides for smoother integration of this material into existing curriculum, as these topics could be added into established courses and would not require new courses to be developed.”

Smallholder Peri-Urban Organic Farming in Nepal: A Comparative Analysis of Farming Systems

JAFSCDJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development,

Gopal Datt Bhatta and Werner Doppler

“Farming in the peri-urban areas of Nepal is increasingly characterized by monocropping and the imprudent use of agrochemicals. This intensification has raised questions about the sustainability of farming systems in the region. In this paper, we do a comparative assessment of these farming systems, focusing on organic production in the densely populated Kathmandu Valley. The relative inaccessibility of farming accessories and of modern farming technologies usually leads rural farmers to follow traditional farming methods, sometimes referred to as “default organic.” In contrast, access to infrastructures opens avenues for further development of ecological farming in peri-urban areas.

Study Area Represented by the Digital Elevation Model with Road and Market Infrastructures

Study Area Represented by the Digital Elevation Model with Road and Market Infrastructures (elevation expressed in meters above sea level)

“Gross margin analysis indicates that organic vegetable production is a lucrative endeavor in the area under study. Urbanites are willing to buy organic vegetables, but the higher price and lack of certification of organically produced vegetables are factors that should be taken into account by producers and organizations working in organic production. We suggest that nongovernmental bodies, along with government-run institutions, cooperatives, and community-based organizations, can play a facilitating role for a smallholder organic growers certification program. They should also support peri-urban farmers in their efforts to enhance the environment and agrobiodiversity.”