GIS for Climate Change Bibliography, Part 3: Renewable Energy

Assessing Economic Biomass Resource Potential for Bioenergy and Biobased Products

Wind Resources of the Western United States, 2007–2008 Edition

New Mexico Renewable Energy Resource Potential with Existing Energy Transmission Lines

Developing Wind Farms: Screening for Potential Sites

Atlas of UK Marine Renewable Energy Resources

Renewable Energy Siting: Collocating Wind Energy and Ethanol Production in Kansas

Renewable Energy: GIS and the Science Behind Tapping Wind Power Offer Insight on the Resource’s Feasibility

Mapping the Solar Potential of Rooftops: Germany’s SUN-AREA Research Project Uses GIS

Assessing Economic Biomass Resources in California with GIS

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Searching for Suitable Sites

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Determining Resource Potential

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Airflow Analysis for Wind Power

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Attracting Renewable Investors

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Environmental Impact Assessment of Proposed Wind Turbines

GIS to Meet Renewable Energy Goals: Economic and Government Considerations of Wind Resources

GIS—A Common Tool for Sustainable Wind Development

Impact of Future Wind Farm Development on the Avesnois Park Landscape

The Los Angeles County Solar Mapping Portal

Geothermal Map of North America, 2004

Development of the Biomass Energy Use Business Evaluation GIS Software

Siting a Solar Power Project

GIS-Based Renewable Resource Supply Curves for the ReEDS Model

GIS in Support of the Concentrating Solar Power Program

Micro-climate Solar Modeling over Complex Terrain

The Big Sky State Taps Wind Resources

Ethanol Buzz Fuels GIS Planning by Colonial Pipeline Company

Boston Showcases Solar Power Potential with Web GIS

Measuring the Economics of Biofuel Availability

Bibliographies in this series:

GIS for Climate Change Bibliography, Part 2: Carbon Management

National Carbon Sequestration (NatCarb)

City of Irvine’s GHG GIS Protocol

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership Region

GIS Contributes to Groundbreaking Carbon Emissions Inventory

Predicting the Vegetation Distribution and Terrestrial Carbon-Fluxes Using MC1 Model

Generalized Contours of the Sauk Sequence for Characterization of Saline Aquifers for CO2 Sequestration

ESRI Commits to Clinton Global Initiative with Carbon Reduction Solution

New Zealand Enlists GIS to Monitor Greenhouse Gas

Enhanced Oil Recovery Revives Petroleum Fields and Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

ESRI Commits to Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy

Illinois Basin Coal GIS Datasets for Coal Bed Methane, Carbon Sequestration, and Coal Resource Studies

Measuring the Carbon Content of Forests: The Carbon Measurement Collaborative

Forestry Carbon Trading Opportunities Explored with GIS

Baselining CO2 Emissions of Las Vegas Residential Streets

Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Communications Supported by GIS

Carbonfootprinting on the CSUN Campus Using ArcGIS

Carbon Nation: Automated GIS Process is Creating a Snapshot of Biomass and Carbon in U.S. Forests

Web-GIS for Managing Agroforestry for Carbon Sequestration in East-Africa

Bibliographies in this series:

GIS for Climate Change Bibliography, Part 1: Climate Science

Analyzing Sea Level Potential and Temperature Extremes within a GIS Environment

Shoreline Change History of Louisiana’s Gulf Shoreline: 1800s to 2005

Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Southern Florida

Coastal Change and Glaciological Map of the Larsen Ice Shelf Area, Antarctica: 1940–2005

The Cryosphere World Map

DOI Demonstrates Climate Change with ArcGIS Explorer: Visualizing Environmental Impacts Shows Need for New Strategy

Houston Ozone and Ozone Precursor Monitoring Network

Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map, Including Arctic Research Stations

Arctic Conservation Area Topographic Map

A Long-Term Seamless Daily Precipitation-Temperature Geodatabase for the Continental US (CONUS)

Global Soil Regions

Forest Dynamics in the Southern Lake Tahoe Basin, 1940–2002

Shrinking Forests of Kilimanjaro—The Impact of Fire and Climate Change

Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation

Global Warming: The Bering Glacier Retreat and Sea Level Rise

Air Pollution Sources in South Coast Air Basin—Impacts of Meteorology, Terrain, and Other Sources

Predicted Potential Natural Vegetation of New Zealand

Spatial Patterns of Climatic Factors Using GIS and PRISM, Korea

Land Cover of North America

Using ArcGIS to Evaluate Weather Warnings

100+ Years of Land Change for Coastal Louisiana

Using ArcGIS to Analyze Climate Patterns and Climate Change

Investigating Temperature Extremes in the United States

The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) GEOportal

NOAA Climate Services Portal: Climate Data and Statistics

NCAR Publishes Climate Change Models in ESRI GIS Format

Characteristics of Atlantic Tropical Storms from Long-Term Observations

Amongst the Icebergs, GIS Innovation Aids Antarctic Research

ClimateWizard: A Web-based GIS Tool for Practical Climate Change Analysis

Long-Term Environmental Monitoring at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Supported With GIS

Polar Climate Change: Shrinking Arctic Ice in a Temporal Context

Mapping the Ayles Ice Shelf Break

CASI Data Provides Better Picture of Coral Reef Threats

Bibliographies in this series:

Arctic Now Traps 25 Percent of World’s Carbon, But That Could Change

The arctic could potentially alter the Earth’s climate by becoming a possible source of global atmospheric carbon dioxide.  The arctic now traps or absorbs up to 25 percent of this gas but climate change could alter that amount, according to a study published in the November issue of Ecological Monographs.

In their review paper, David McGuire of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and his colleagues show that the Arctic has been a carbon sink since the end of the last Ice Age, which has recently accounted for between zero and 25 percent, or up to about 800 million metric tons, of the global carbon sink. On average, says McGuire, the Arctic accounts for 10-15 percent of the Earth’s carbon sink. But the rapid rate of climate change in the Arctic – about twice that of lower latitudes – could eliminate the sink and instead, possibly make the Arctic a source of carbon dioxide.

“This study is another example of the important role played by USGS and its partners in providing the scientific research that must be the backbone of any actions related to climate change,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

caption below
This figure shows the mean extent of permafrost in the Arctic, estimated for (a) the years 1990-2000 and (b) the years 2090-2100. In (c), the estimation of loss of permafrost by 2100 is overlaid on estimates for the year 2000. Credit: A. David McGuire, USGS (click on the image to see the full size version)

Carbon generally enters the oceans and land masses of the Arctic from the atmosphere and largely accumulates in permafrost, the frozen layer of soil underneath the land’s surface. Unlike active soils, permafrost does not decompose its carbon; thus, the carbon becomes trapped in the frozen soil. Cold conditions at the surface have also slowed the rate of organic matter decomposition, McGuire says, allowing Arctic carbon accumulation to exceed its release.

But recent warming trends could change this balance. Warmer temperatures can accelerate the rate of surface organic matter decomposition, releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Of greater concern, says McGuire, is that the permafrost has begun to thaw, exposing previously frozen soil to decomposition and erosion. These changes could reverse the historical role of the Arctic as a sink for carbon dioxide.

“In the short term, warming temperatures could release more Arctic carbon to the atmosphere,” says McGuire. “And with permafrost thawing, there will be more available carbon to release.”

On the scale of a few decades, the thawing permafrost could also result in a more waterlogged Arctic, says McGuire, a situation that could encourage the activity of methane-producing organisms. Currently, the Arctic is a substantial source of methane to the atmosphere: as much as 50 million metric tons of methane are released per year, in comparison to the 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide the Arctic stores yearly. But methane is a very potent greenhouse gas – about 23 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide on a 100-year time scale. If the release of Arctic methane accelerates, global warming could increase at much faster rates.

“We don’t understand methane very well, and its releases to the atmosphere are more episodic than the exchanges of carbon dioxide with the atmosphere,” says McGuire. “It’s important to pay attention to methane dynamics because of methane’s substantial potential to accelerate global warming.”

But uncertainties still abound about the response of the Arctic system to climate change. For example, the authors write, global warming may produce longer growing seasons that promote plant photosynthesis, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Also, the expansion of shrubs in tundra and the movement of treeline northward could sequester more carbon in vegetation. However, increasingly dry conditions may counteract and overcome these effects. Similarly, dry conditions can lead to increased fire prevalence, releasing even more carbon.

McGuire contends that only specific regional studies can determine which areas are likely to experience changes in response to climate change.

“If the response of the arctic carbon cycle to climate change results in substantial net releases of greenhouse gases, this could compromise proposed mitigation efforts for controlling the carbon cycle,” he says.

The article, Sensitivity of the Carbon Cycle in the Arctic to Climate Change, was published online today in Ecological Monographs. The coordinating lead author is David McGuire, USGS, and the co-authors include internationally renowned scientists from Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. This study was sponsored by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the Climate in the Cryosphere Program, and the International Arctic Science Committee.

[Source: USGS news release]

Earth Science Week 2009

October 11-17 is Earth Science Week (“ESW”), organized by the American Geological Institute. The purpose is to encourage people to learn about the natural world and examine the geosciences. This year, particular attention is being given to climate. ESRI is proud to be a sponsor and supporter of ESW. Educators can acquire an ESW Toolkit, which includes a CD from ESRI.

Meanwhile, there are also materials available for download and interaction right from the ESRI EdCommunity ESW page. We’ve broken it down into a quick presentation about what’s GIS, about the use of GIS to study earth science, and the use of GIS to study climate in particular. You’ll find a series of videos, produced and narrated by Joseph Kerski, introducing landscapes in the field plus a couple of explorations of climate and weather patterns. You can see examples of lessons that you can do with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Explorer, AEJEE, or even just a web browser. The most recent lesson (highlighted in this blog a month ago) uses ArcGIS Explorer and sea surface temperature observations from NASA to begin seeking patterns over time. A classic lesson, of great concern to those in low-lying coastal regions, is found in the “Water World” lesson in Module#7 of Book#2 from the Our World GIS Education series.

It’s easy to think that humans rule the world. One need only watch the headlines for the latest storm, earthquake, or tsunami to recognize that we don’t control everything. And, while events at local scales may not generate big headlines, a solid grasp of earth science is tied intimately to personal lives and to living in a sustainable fashion. Using GIS is key to understanding the relationships between and integration of natural processes with human conditions.

Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI Schools Program Manager

Simulations and Ancient Magnetism Suggest Mantle Plumes May Bend Deep Beneath Earth’s Crust

…from the University of Rochester…

“Computer simulations, paleomagnetism and plate motion histories described in today’s issue of Science reveal how hotspots, centers of erupting magma that sit atop columns of hot mantle that were once thought to remain firmly fixed in place, in fact move beneath Earth’s crust.

“Scientists believe mantle plumes are responsible for some of the Earth’s most dramatic geological features, such as the Hawaiian islands and Yellowstone National Park. Some plumes may have shallow sources, but a few, such as the one beneath Hawaii, appear to be rooted in the deepest mantle, near Earth’s core.”

A New Look Beneath the Waves: Ocean Observatories Initiative Gets Underway

nsflogoGiving scientists never-before-seen views of the world’s oceans, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) have signed a Cooperative Agreement that supports the construction and initial operation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).

OOI will provide a network of undersea sensors for observing complex ocean processes such as climate variability, ocean circulation, and ocean acidification at several coastal, open-ocean and seafloor locations.

Continuous data flow from hundreds of OOI sensors will be integrated by a sophisticated computing network, and will be openly available to scientists, policy makers, students and the public.

“Through the Recovery Act, we are putting people to work today to find answers to some of the major scientific and environmental challenges that we face,” said Arden L. Bement, Jr., director of NSF.

“The oceans drive an incredible range of natural phenomena, including our climate, and directly impact society in myriad ways,” Bement explained. “New approaches are crucial to our understanding of changes now happening in the world’s oceans. OOI will install the latest technologies where they can best serve scientists, policymakers and the public.”

Added Julie Morris, NSF division director for ocean sciences, “Moving a large project to the construction phase requires rigorous planning. Remarkable cooperation and commitment from the OOI team is translating a long-held dream into a new reality for the ocean sciences research community.”

Advanced ocean research and sensor tools are a significant improvement over past techniques. Remotely operated and autonomous vehicles go deeper and perform longer than submarines. Underwater samplers do in minutes what once took hours in a lab. Telecommunications cables link experiments directly to office computers on land. At sea, satellite uplinks shuttle buoy data at increasing speeds.

Sited in critical areas of the open and coastal ocean, OOI will radically change the rate and scale of ocean data collection. The networked observatory will focus on global, regional and coastal science questions. It will also provide platforms to support new kinds of instruments and autonomous vehicles.

“OOI is an unprecedented opportunity for, and whole new approach to, advancing our understanding of how the ocean works and interacts with the atmosphere and solid Earth,” said Robert Gagosian, president and CEO of COL. “It will allow scientists to answer complex questions–questions only dreamed of a few years ago–about the future health of our planet, such as the ocean’s role in climate change. It’s very exciting to be part of this huge step forward in the ocean sciences.”

The five-plus-year construction phase, funded initially with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funds, will begin this month.

The first year of funding under the Cooperative Agreement will support a range of construction efforts, including production engineering and prototyping of key coastal and open-ocean components (moorings, buoys, sensors), award of the primary seafloor cable contract, completion of a shore station for power and data, and software development for sensor interfaces to the network.

Subsequent years of funding will support the completion of coastal, deep-ocean, and seafloor systems, with initial data flow scheduled for early 2013 and final commissioning of the full system in 2015.

The OOI is managed and coordinated by the OOI Project Office at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D.C., with three major implementing organizations responsible for the construction of the components of the full network:

  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and its partners, Oregon State University and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, are responsible for coastal and global moorings and their associated autonomous vehicles.  Raytheon will also serve as a WHOI partner and provide project management and systems engineering support.
  • The University of Washington is responsible for cabled seafloor systems and moorings on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate.
  • OOI’s cyberinfrastructure component is being implemented by the University of California at San Diego.

In 2010 the program will add an education and public engagement team as the fourth implementing organization; it will take advantage of the technology and combined science and education vision of the OOI.

“This award represents the fulfillment of more than a decade of planning and hard work by hundreds of ocean scientists, and reflects the commitment of the National Science Foundation to new approaches for documenting ocean processes,” said Tim Cowles, OOI program director at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

“The OOI project team is excited to play a role in implementing this unique suite of observing assets. We’re building an infrastructure that will transform ocean sciences.”

[Source: NSF press release]

Technology Drives Climate Science: A GIS-based Action Plan

Our world faces unprecedented challenges, and only one technology is poised to collect, manage, and analyze the myriad of physical, biological, and cultural data describing the past, present, and future of Earth.  That technology is geographic information systems (GIS), commonly used today to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze geographic relationships, and model geographic processes.

GIS technology has proven to be invaluable in driving intelligent decision making, and its application to climate science is a natural fit.  In fact, extensive work has already been done over the last 40 years to apply GIS technology to address subjects such as land use inventory, data model development, climate model integration, carbon accounting, and climate change visualization.

We are at a point in the evolution of the technology and its broad application where the next logical step is development of a GIS-based framework for earth systems modeling and global design.  Such a system would cross academic, scientific, and industrial domains and political boundaries to serve as a platform for a comprehensive climate monitoring, modeling, and management system.

There are several actions we can take now to establish a framework that leverages mature GIS technology to advance climate science.

  • Create a Comprehensive Climate Information System. A GIS-based platform for modeling and managing earth systems will help us identify climate trends, understand the effects of climate change, design mitigation plans, predict possible outcomes, monitor results, and provide feedback for an adaptive response.
  • Create a Climate Data Infrastructure. A global spatial data infrastructure for climate change studies—a loosely-coupled, decentralized directory of all types of climate and map data and imagery—will serve as the basis for earth systems modeling and global design projects conducted in the Climate Information System.
  • Integrate Earth Systems Modeling. A thorough inventory of climate change related spatial data models and sharing of best practices on interoperability will be of tremendous value as we build a Climate Information System for analyzing impacts and alternative futures at a comprehensive, global scale.
  • Develop a Global Climate Dashboard. A Global Climate Dashboard would summarize information from the Climate Information System, providing “executives” and citizens alike with real-time geographic visualization of various earth systems parameters, enabling a more responsive, iterative, and adaptive response to climate change.
  • Move towards Global Design. A GIS-based geodesign framework will provide a robust set of tools for design professionals to support the design and evaluation of alternate futures for our earth and its systems.

We are only beginning to understand the complex issues posed by climate change.  Only through careful observation of the data, application of scientific principals, and leveraging of modern technology can we hope to grasp the intricacies of the exceedingly complex systems that comprise our planet.  A GIS-based framework for climate science offers the best chance at gaining a scientific understanding of earth systems at a truly global scale and for making thoughtful, informed design decisions that ultimately allow humans and nature to coexist more harmoniously.

Map of the Day: Fugro Robertson Limited’s Plate Wizard

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“This map displays an overview of Fugro Robertson Limited’s Plate Wizard project, which encompasses detailed global plate definitions, a dynamic model of plate reconstruction through geological time, a unique deformable plates methodology, geological control information, and a GIS front-end.

“The project has as its starting point detailed global plate definitions, including defined rigid cores and deformable margins. These are based on the detailed regional plate models developed at Fugro Robertson Limited (FRL) over the last ten years, together with a comprehensive analysis of the near global passive margins and oceans gravity and magnetics dataset compiled by Fugro Gravity and Magnetics. This has been used in conjunction with FRL’s global geological database to define a consistent global set of continent-ocean boundary definitions.

“A key aspect of Plate Wizard is the development of a deformable-plates methodology for both convergent and divergent environments. Plate Wizard represents a major advance over the rigid plate models, with all their inherent problems, that have been available so far. The geological control information aspect of the project is feature linked in GIS to supporting databases, including geological control information and references. Finally, the GIS front-end allows full access to the plate polygons and rotation files, detailed browsing, access, reconstruction and deformation of both Plate Wizard and third-party data.

“Copyright Fugro Robertson Limited, 2009.”

Large Quakes Weaken Fault Zones Worldwide


“The massive 2004 earthquake that triggered killer tsunamis throughout the Indian Ocean appears to have weakened at least a portion of California’s famed San Andreas Fault, according to a new report by U.S. seismologists.

“The findings suggest the Earth’s largest earthquakes can weaken fault zones worldwide and may trigger periods of increased global seismic activity.”