Mapping the Potential for Biofuel Production on Marginal Lands: Differences in Definitions, Data and Models across Scales

isprsISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 2014, 3(2), 430-459

By Sarah Lewis and Maggi Kelly

“As energy policies mandate increases in bioenergy production, new research supports growing bioenergy feedstocks on marginal lands. Subsequently there has been an increase in published work that uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the availability of marginal land as a proxy for bioenergy crop potential. However, despite the similarity in stated intent among these works a number of inconsistencies remain across studies that make comparisons and standardization difficult. We reviewed a collection of recent literature that mapped bioenergy potential on marginal lands at varying scales, and found that there is no common working definition of marginal land across all of these works. Specifically, we found considerable differences in mapped results that are driven by dissimilarities in definitions, model framework, data inputs, scale and treatment of uncertainty. Most papers reviewed here employed relatively simple GIS overlays of input criteria, distinct thresholds identifying marginal land, and few details describing accuracy and uncertainty. These differences are likely to be major impediments to integration of studies mapping marginal lands for bioenergy production. We suggest that there is future need for spatial modeling of bioenergy, yet further scholarship is needed to compare across countries and scales to understand the global potential for bioenergy crops.  ”

A Dynamic GIS as an Efficient Tool for Integrated Coastal Zone Management

isprsISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 2014, 3(2), 391-407

By Françoise Gourmelon, Damien Le Guyader, and Guy Fontenelle

“This contribution addresses both the role of geographical information in participatory research of coastal zones, and its potential to bridge the gap between research and coastal zone management. Over a one year period, heterogeneous data (spatial, temporal, qualitative and quantitative) were obtained which included the process of interviews, storing in a spatio-temporal database.

Activity zones for supervised maritime activities in the Bay of Brest (A) and boats density

Activity zones for supervised maritime activities in the Bay of Brest.

“The GIS (Geographic Information System) produced temporal snapshots of daily human activity patterns allowing it to map, identify and quantify potential space-time conflicts between activities. It was furthermore used to facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge at various levels: by mapping, simulation, GIS analysis and data collection. Results indicated that both captured data and the participatory workshop added real value to management and therefore it was deemed well managed by stakeholders. To incorporate a dynamic GIS would enhance pro-active integrated management by opening the path for better discussions whilst permitting management simulated scenarios. ”

New Book, “Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions,” Coming in 2015

Esri logoEdited by Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist
Foreword by David Gallo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

On a planet where water covers 71 percent of the surface, our economy, our energy, and our lives depend on the ocean. In recent months we’ve seen the critical role of the ocean in the latest warnings from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the launch of the White House Climate Data Initiative, and the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370. At this critical juncture in history we find the ocean in a state of crisis because of a host of human-made issues. And if the ocean is in crisis, the Earth is in crisis. Our society needs solutions underpinned by good, digestible science: for protecting the ocean while ensuring our own safety, for managing and mitigating conflict among multiple simultaneous uses of the ocean, for geodesigning it, and for discovering and exploring a part of the planet still less well known than the Moon, Mars, or Venus.

Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions is about use-inspired science and realistic solutions for the ocean and thus the Earth. The book presents the best science from the inaugural Esri Ocean GIS Forum for an audience of government decision makers and ocean/coastal science researchers, state and local coastal zone managers, ocean/coastal GIS practitioners, and students in higher education. To encourage GIS best practice, the book features an extensive digital supplement including datasets with accompanying digital object identifiers (DOIs), geoprocessing workflows, GIS tools packaged as desktop extensions or web services, mobile apps, Python scripts, story maps, and more. All chapters went through standard academic peer review.



Chapter titles include:

  • Cloudy with a chance of fish: ArcServer and cloud-based fisheries oceanography applications
  • Good practices in the use of Marxan for systematic conservation and marine spatial planning
  • Artificial reefs, beach restoration and sea turtles nesting in Martin County, Florida
  • Tools for implementing the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard
  • How does climate change affect our oceans?
  • A pollutant exposure index for the Southern California Bight: Spatial integration of multiple pollutants and sources
  • Whale mAPP: Citizen scientists contribute and map marine mammal sightings
  • Pushing the limits of the Esri Geoportal to support the West Coast Data Network
  • Land-sea characterization of the East End Marine Park, St. Croix
  • Successfully developing a collaborative Essential Fish Habitat Proposal
  • More than maps: Connecting aquarium guests to global stories
  • Uncovering the oceans through seascape visualization
  • Managing the visual landscape of Oregon’s territorial sea
  • Visualizing time-series ocean observing data

This book will serve as a cornerstone of science-based strategies and solutions for anyone involved in working for a sustainable future for the ocean and our planet.

GIS skill level of intended reader: Intermediate to advanced.

Projecting Invasion Risk of Non-Native Watersnakes (Nerodia fasciata and Nerodia sipedon) in the Western United States

PLOS_ONEPLOS ONE, Published Online 25 June 2014

“Species distribution models (SDMs) are increasingly used to project the potential distribution of introduced species outside their native range. Such studies rarely explicitly evaluate potential conflicts with native species should the range of introduced species expand. Two snake species native to eastern North America, Nerodia fasciata and Nerodia sipedon, have been introduced to California where they represent a new stressor to declining native amphibians, fish, and reptiles. To project the potential distributions of these non-native watersnakes in western North America, we built ensemble SDMs using MaxEnt, Boosted Regression Trees, and Random Forests and habitat and climatic variables. We then compared the overlap between the projected distribution of invasive watersnakes and the distributions of imperiled native amphibians, fish, and reptiles that can serve as prey or competitors for the invaders, to estimate the risk to native species posed by non-native watersnakes. Large areas of western North America were projected to be climatically suitable for both species of Nerodia according to our ensemble SDMs, including much of central California.

Projection of the potential distribution of the Common Watersnake, Nerodia sipedon.  Suitability from an ensemble model representing the average output from a MaxEnt, Boosted Regression Tree, and Random Forests model.

Projection of the potential distribution of the Common Watersnake, Nerodia sipedon. Suitability from an ensemble model representing the average output from a MaxEnt, Boosted Regression Tree, and Random Forests model.

“The potential distributions of both N. fasciata and N. sipedon overlap extensively with the federally threatened Giant Gartersnake, Thamnophis gigas, which inhabits a similar ecological niche. N. fasciata also poses risk to the federally threatened California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense, whereas N. sipedon poses risk to some amphibians of conservation concern, including the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog, Rana boylii. We conclude that non-native watersnakes in California can likely inhabit ranges of several native species of conservation concern that are expected to suffer as prey or competing species for these invaders. Action should be taken now to eradicate or control these invasions before detrimental impacts on native species are widespread. Our methods can be applied broadly to quantify the risk posed by incipient invasions to native biodiversity.”

Esri Mapping Platform Secured for Federal Agency’s Use

Esri logoArcGIS Online Achieves Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) Authorization and Accreditation

The Esri ArcGIS Online platform is now authorized and accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a secure platform for delivering cloud-based geospatial services. Following a rigorous assessment, the agency has granted ArcGIS Online a Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) low Authority to Operate (ATO). Esri, the GIS industry leader, now provides secure online GIS services to the USDA, giving the agency assurance that its data and applications are protected.

ArcGIS Online empowers users to create interactive web maps to share with whomever they choose, whether it is a specific group, an organization, or the public. The US government will use ArcGIS Online to host scalable tile services for broad public dissemination while leveraging its own agency accredited infrastructure feature services for hosting more sensitive information. Catalog services will enable public and federal government users to discover and mash up geospatial information hosted by thousands of participating organizations, including Esri basemaps, templates, applications, and developer tools.

ArcGIS Online will extend and strengthen the government’s GIS platform through greater compliance with open data requirements and by making information and analysis widely available to the public. ArcGIS Online will support analysis, policy making, and planning across the agency, as well as foster valuable collaboration between federal government organizations. It will increase the productivity of government workers and, by exploiting cloud technology, better enable government agencies to surges in requirements and deliver cost savings.

Esri will maintain the ArcGIS Online FISMA ATO by monitoring and strengthening ArcGIS Online operations under USDA auspices, including annual third-party audits, vulnerability assessments, security reviews, and verification of policies and procedures. Most federal agencies use Esri’s ArcGIS platform but have yet to accredit their cloud-based geospatial services to FISMA standards. Esri welcomes the opportunity to work with agencies, the public, and private sector organizations desiring FISMA standards alignment, to implement secure geospatial services for them, building on the USDA accreditation.

For more information about ArcGIS Online, visit

[Source: Esri press release]