Risks of developing breast and colorectal cancer in association with incomes and geographic locations in Texas: a retrospective cohort study

bmc cancerBMC Cancer 2016 16:294, Published 26 April 2016

By Zheyu Liu, Kai Zhang, and Xianglin L. Du

Background: No study has been conducted to investigate the spatial pattern and association of socioeconomic status (such as income) with breast and colorectal cancer incidence in Texas, United States. This study aimed to determine whether median household income was associated with the risk of developing breast and colorectal cancer in Texas and to identify higher cancer risks by race/ethnicity and geographic areas.

Methods:This was a retrospective cohort study with an ecological component in using aggregated measures at the county level. We identified 243,677 women with breast cancer and 155,534 men and women with colorectal cancer residing in 254 counties in Texas in 1995–2011 from the public-use dataset of Texas Cancer Registry. The denominator population and median household income at the county level was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Cancer incidence rates were calculated as number of cases per 100,000 persons and age-adjusted using the 2000 US population data. We used the ArcGIS v10.1 (geographic information system software) to identify multiple clustered counties with high and low cancer incidences in Texas.

Geographic variations of colorectal cancer incidence adjusted for age and median household income in Texas, 1995–2011

Geographic variations of colorectal cancer incidence adjusted for age and median household income in Texas, 1995–2011

Results: Age-adjusted breast cancer incidence rate in the highest median income quintile group was 151.51 cases per 100,000 in 2008–2011 as compared to 98.95 cases per 100,000 in the lowest median income quintile group. The risk of colorectal cancer appeared to decrease with increasing median income in racial/ethnic population. Spatial analysis revealed the significant low breast cancer incidence cluster regions located in southwest US-Mexico border counties in Texas.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that higher income was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer in Texas. There were geographic variations with cancer incidence clustered in high risk areas in Texas. Future studies may need to explore more factors that might explain income and cancer risk associations and their geographic variations.”

Recent improvement and projected worsening of weather in the United States

natureNature, 532, 357–360, Published online 20 April 2016

By Patrick J. Egan and Megan Mullin

“As climate change unfolds, weather systems in the United States have been shifting in patterns that vary across regions and seasons. Climate science research typically assesses these changes by examining individual weather indicators, such as temperature or precipitation, in isolation, and averaging their values across the spatial surface. As a result, little is known about population exposure to changes in weather and how people experience and evaluate these changes considered together. Here we show that in the United States from 1974 to 2013, the weather conditions experienced by the vast majority of the population improved.

Population growth rate equivalent change in WPI by decade, derived from county-by-county regressions of annual WPI on year

Population growth rate equivalent change in WPI by decade, derived from county-by-county regressions of annual WPI on year

“Using previous research on how weather affects local population growth to develop an index of people’s weather preferences, we find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago. Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes. Climate change models predict that this trend is temporary, however, because US summers will eventually warm more than winters. Under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions proceed at an unabated rate (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we estimate that 88% of the US public will experience weather at the end of the century that is less preferable than weather in the recent past. Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant.”

Esri Science Organization Site License

The Science Organization Site License is designed to deliver easy access to the full suite of GIS technology to researchers.

As entities of universities or as standalone organizations, researchers at a small non-commercial, science organizations or research institutes are unique in that they not only conduct research, but may also coordinate diverse sectors (government agencies, NGOs, small businesses, etc.), build consensus among experts, and pay special attention to GIS project implementation, tool development, and technology transfer. These science organizations are typically much smaller than a university (e.g., 50 to 500 employees).

In terms of licensing of Esri technology, these science organizations may fall through the cracks (i.e., they may not be affiliated with a university, not truly a government agency, not truly a conservation or humanitarian non-profit, and if part of a university, may be located off-campus and thus have difficulties getting resources or recognition from the broader campus university site license). The science kit, a US domestic offering, designed to meet their unique needs.

Researchers at such organizations are typically equivalent to faculty members at a college or university, but not engaged in nearly as much teaching–or perhaps no teaching at all. Their focus is more along the lines of data collection, analysis, interpretation, and publishing of research results in the areas of geography, ocean science, hydrology, ecology, forestry, climate science, geology/geophysics, agricultural science, conservation biology, geographic information science, computer science, sustainability science and/or geodesign. These researchers may be skilled in GIS and computer programming, or rely on the support of GIS analysts or information systems managers at their organization.

A Foundation for Scientific Research

The Esri Science Organization Site License is designed to deliver easy access to the full suite of GIS technology to researchers.  ArcGIS Online is a key offering within the kit so that it may be used as an organizational platform for research, as the infrastructure to perform that research, and as a digital science information laboratory.


The Esri Science Kit is aimed at fostering science collaboration, visualization, analytics, modeling, communication, and in building a complete science data management system. Therefore, if a research grant is forthcoming to the organization, this is the magic ingredient to use.

Load your own data and go,” with Esri basemaps, story maps, ArcGIS Collector, sharing/collaboration space with an ArcGIS Online for Organizations account. The science kit includes the ArcGIS Open Data app as part of the organizational account as another option for easy and open sharing of data (e.g., drag and drop maps, tables, shapefiles into the app to share on the web, open for developers, open for science communicators).

ArcGIS is a comprehensive geospatial platform for science, supporting research, supporting collaboration, supporting spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and science communication at multiple SCALES:

  • At the scale of the individual researcher with basemaps, content management, apps (e.g., field collection, open data, viewing, cloud based spatial analysis, GeoEvent Processor for Server, raster processing in the cloud);
  • At the scale of workgroups in a lab, collaboration and data sharing with partners, plug ins;
  • At the scale of supporting inter-organization collaboration from research institute to research institute, research institute to federal agency (e.g., NOAA/NASA); research institute to national or global initiative such as NSF EarthCube or GEOSS.
  • At the scale of broader citizen engagement, in communicating its science to the general public (e.g., story maps and open web map publishing).

What’s Included

Licensee may copy and deploy the Programs listed below up to the total quantity of licenses indicated
The list above is subject to change should Esri commitments to third parties regarding licensed third-party technology included in Esri products prohibit or not provide redistribution rights in Site licenses to Esri licensees.


  • Uncapped use of products as defined in the Deliverables section – unless otherwise noted.
  • 2 User Conference Passes
  • 2 GIS Specialists appointed by Research Institute for Technical Support contacts
  • Uncapped access to Esri Self-Paced e-Learning
  • Esri Press has authorized the gift of two science related Esri Press Books to the Esri Science Organization Site License customers. The choice of the books will be up to Dawn Wright and the customer.

[Note: The Esri Science Organization Site License does not include installation or implementation services and is for US domestic organizations only. International research organizations already have an International Research Institute Program available through the Esri distributor for a particular country.]


Technical Support Services: Technical support services are included and will be provided in accordance with the then-current Esri technical support policy, provided Licensee remains current on its payment of the Annual Fee. Licensee’s GIS Specialist(s) will be the only individual(s) authorized to contact Esri for technical support.

Upgrades: During the general commercial release of the Products, Esri, at its sole discretion, will deliver to Licensee one (1) upgrade package for each of the Programs included in the Site License or make updates available for downloading from Esri’s website, provided the Annual Fee has been paid and the Agreement is current.

For a Quote, Please Contact:

Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist, dwright@esri.com.

[Updated 08 February 2018]

The OGC adopts Open Modelling Interface (OpenMI) Standard

OGC_Logo_Border_Blue_3DThe Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) membership has approved the Open Modelling Interface Standard Version 2 (OpenMI) as an OGC standard. This standard defines a means by which independently developed computer models of environmental processes, or indeed any processes, can exchange data as they run and hence facilitates the modelling of interacting processes.

The original driver for the OpenMI was the European Water Framework Directive and the requirement for an integrated approach to water management. It was foreseen that implementing the Directive would be very challenging and that there would be a need to provide help, in the form of decision support systems (DSS), to environmental managers. As Earth systems are complex and interrelated, these DSS would need to bring together many models in order to better understand and predict the environmental impacts of events and policies. To make it feasible to link together models of different processes from different suppliers and hence simulate process interaction, the European Commission therefore co-funded the research and development of a generic model interface, the outcome of which is the OpenMI.

Roger Moore, chairman of the OpenMI Association, said, “The OpenMI Association sees huge opportunities ahead for many stakeholder groups if the linking of models of different processes as they run can be made simple and reliable. Our immediate goal is to facilitate the integrated modelling needed to understand Earth system processes and hence help scientists, policy makers and managers find sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. By publishing the OpenMI as an adopted OGC standard, we seek to make the OpenMI standard available and accessible to the worldwide modelling community.”

Environmental modelling is not the only application of integrated modelling. For example, a possible shorter term application will simply be in enabling developers to convert their existing large, and often unmanageable applications, into sets of linkable components. This could change the modelling market from one for complete systems into one for components and services. It could make it much easier for products to be brought to market, widen participation and dramatically drive up the rate of innovation.

The standard can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/openmi. More information is available on the OpenMI website at www.openmi.org.

“Progress toward a sustainable future depends on our improved understanding of Earth systems and our collective ability to act from the local to global levels,” said Mark Reichardt, President and CEO of the OGC. “This partnership with OpenMI enables our organizations to work more closely to assure that open standards-based modelling capabilities can be seamlessly and rapidly integrated into processing environments.”

The OpenMI Association is an entirely open not-for-profit international group of organizations and people dedicated to taking the OpenMI (Open Modelling Interface) forward into the future. Its primary objectives are to develop, maintain and promote the OpenMI and integrated modelling. Learn more about the OpenMI Association at http://www.openmi.org.

The OGC is an international consortium of more than 475 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC standards support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, sensors and mainstream IT. OGC standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/contact.

[Source: OGC press release]

What Do Maps Reveal in the Fight to Eradicate Polio?

Esri logoThe World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will share their stories at the 2014 Esri User Conference.

Dr. Bruce Aylward from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr. Vincent Seaman from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will share their stories with an audience of more than 16,000 attendees at the Opening Session of the 2014 Esri User Conference (Esri UC) on Monday, July 14. As experts in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, they will describe the challenges and opportunities involved in bringing fundamental healthcare to impoverished regions. They’ll also talk about the importance maps have in pinpointing where help is needed most around the world.

“Polio, a terrible disease, is almost completely eradicated, but ‘almost’ isn’t good enough with a disease slated for complete eradication,” said Aylward.

Most of the world hardly remembers polio, which has been reduced by over 99 percent in the past generation by vaccination. However, the disease survives in parts of just a few countries, and has repeatedly spread back from these places to polio-free areas worldwide. The urgency of preventing such spread and protecting the polio-free world led the WHO Director-General to declare a public health emergency of international concern on May 5, 2014.

“The polio eradication program is an international effort to reach the most vulnerable people in the world, irrespective of geography, poverty, culture, and conflict,” said Aylward.

The Esri UC, to be held July 14–18, will bring together thousands of people from more than 90 countries, all unified by their use of Esri’s geographic information system (GIS) technology. Of particular interest to Esri UC attendees will be the use of GIS in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Aylward will explain how the people working at WHO identify where there are new outbreaks in the world, how the disease spreads, and where it has been eradicated. Seaman will share how the polio program uses GIS-based maps and analyses in high-risk areas to plan vaccination campaigns targeting every child under the age of five and to provide better tools to assess the effectiveness of these efforts.

BrAUOaCCYAIXTyY.jpg large

“At the Esri UC Plenary Session, we like to feature innovative people doing important work around the world,” said Esri president Jack Dangermond. “Dr. Aylward and Dr. Seaman certainly qualify. We are honored to welcome them and excited that GIS can help fulfill the mission of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as the teams of humanitarians use maps to understand and solve problems.”

About the Esri UC Plenary Keynote Speakers

Dr. Bruce Aylward is a Canadian physician and epidemiologist and the assistant director-general for the WHO’s Polio and Emergencies cluster. He began his career with the WHO in 1992 as a medical officer with the Expanded Program on Immunization. Aylward worked in national immunization programs in developing countries, primarily those focusing on polio, and took assignments in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq, and Myanmar. After six years in the field, Aylward returned to the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1997 to lead the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Dr. Vincent Seaman is an American health scientist, educator, and a senior program officer for the Polio Country Support Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before that, Seaman was a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention secondee to the WHO in Nigeria for nearly 3 years, where he provided technical support to the Expanded Program on Immunization and worked on the polio eradication effort. He began his career at CDC as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2006, and continued on as an epidemiologist in the areas of environmental public health and vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition to leading health investigations at various Superfund sites in the U.S., Dr. Seaman supported the HIV/AIDS program in Mozambique in 2009, and was a STOP Polio volunteer in Liberia in 2010.

For more information about the Esri UC, visit esri.com/uc.

[Source: Esri press release]

Scientists Use LiDAR, 3-D Modeling Software to Intricately Map Active Chinese Fault Zone

Chinese and American scientists collaborating in the study of an active seismic fault that produced one of China’s most deadly earthquakes say their deployment of an airborne LiDAR system, which uses pulses of laser light to calculate distances and chart terrain features, has helped them produce the most precise topographical measurements ever of the fault zone.

“Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) presents a new approach to build detailed topographic maps effectively,” they report. They add that these high-precision three-dimensional models can be used to illustrate not only land surface changes following past quakes, but also features of past ruptures that could point to the possibility of future temblors.

Experts at the State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics and at the National Earthquake Infrastructure Service in Beijing, working with a colleague at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Pasadena, California, mounted a Leica ALS-60 LiDAR system aboard a Chinese Yun Five aircraft and then began scanning the Haiyuan fault zone in a series of flights over the course of a week. The fault zone is similar to the San Andreas fault in California, which has similarly been scanned and studied as a comparison.

“During the past century,” they explain in a new study, “the Haiyuan fault zone produced two great earthquakes: the M 8.5 Haiyuan earthquake in 1920, along the eastern Haiyuan fault, and the M 8𔃆.3 Gulang earthquake in 1927.”

“The Haiyuan earthquake of 16 December 1920 is one of the largest intra- continental earthquakes ever documented in history,” they add, “and ruptured about a 237-kilometer-long ground surface, with a maximum left-lateral slip of 10.2 m, and claimed over 220,000 lives.”

In the new study, “Quantitative study of tectonic geomorphology along the Haiyuan fault based on airborne LiDAR,” lead scientist Jing Liu and her colleagues at the Earthquake Dynamics Lab, part of the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, state their experiments with the LiDAR scanning system and related building of a high-resolution topographical model provide “an example of how LiDAR data may be used to improve the study of active faults and the risk assessment of related hazards.”

Sections of the 3D digital model generated with the LiDAR data are “intensively analyzed to demonstrate tectonic geomorphic feature identification and displacement measurement,” they state. The LiDAR data are also used, for example, to calculate horizontal and vertical coseismic offsets in one section of the fault zone.

LiDAR data can be used to verify measurements made during fieldwork on offsets of tectonic landform features, state co-authors Tao Chen, Pei Zhen Zhang, Jing Liu, Chuan You Li, and Zhi Kun Ren, along with Ken Hudnut at the USGS, who visited the China Earthquake Administration to participate in this study. “The offset landforms are visualized on an office computer workstation easily, and specialized software may be used to obtain fault displacement measurements quantitatively,” they explain.

With LiDAR-generated digital models of the topography across fault zones, the “link between fault activity and large earthquakes is better recognized, as well as the potential risk for future earthquake hazards,” says the team of scientists.

More precise measurements of the active fault zone made possible by the LiDAR system, and their depiction in sophisticated three-dimensional maps, are helping scientists not only in basic research, but also in terms of calculating the probability of a seismic shock recurring, say the co-authors of the new study, which was published online in the journal Chinese Science Bulletin by Science China Press and Springer-Verlag.

Airborne laser swath mapping helps scientists to virtually remove the vegetation covering from topographical models; this “bare earth” representation provides for more accurate identification of tectonic features and changes following a quake.

A LiDAR airborne scanning system of the Earth’s terrain was deployed over the section of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan that was the epicenter of a Mw7.9 earthquake that struck in May of 2008; LiDAR data were used to map the scale of landslides and ultimately to develop rescue schemes.

In the new study, the Chinese and American scientists say that digital models created using LiDAR data from the Haiyuan fault zone “have a much higher resolution than existing topographic data and most aerial photographs, allowing us to map the locations of fault traces more accurately than ever.”

The high level of precision of the digital models constructed with information from the LiDAR laser scans of the topography in this fault zone will encourage future “site-specific fault activity studies,” state the scientists.

“In the future,” they predict, “we can expect that more and more concepts or models of fault activity would benefit from this unprecedented survey technique.”

Along the Haiyuan fault zone in the western Chinese province of Gansu, LiDAR scans and related digital models have already been used to identify 600 channels and other linear geomorphic features slated for more comprehensive analysis.

“The next step is to measure the displacements along the whole Haiyuan fault and analyze the principle of the slip distribution,” states the team of scientists, “which would help people better understand the fundamental link between fault activity and large earthquakes and assess potential risk for future earthquake hazards.”

In places where slip during past earthquakes was less pronounced, it is possible that future earthquakes could have greater slip in order to accommodate and equalize motions along the fault system. Alternatively, slip may be large repeatedly in some places and small elsewhere. Such variations in slip may help to assess future hazards, so observations of this kind are very important to answer unresolved questions that are central to research on hazards of earthquake fault zones around the world.

[Source: Science China Press]

geneGIS: Geoanalytical Tools and Arc Marine Customization for Individual-Based Genetic Records

Transactions in GISTransactions in GIS, Volume 18, Issue 3, pages 324–350, June 2014

By Dorothy M. Dick, Shaun Walbridge, Dawn J. Wright, John Calambokidis, Erin A. Falcone, Debbie Steel, Tomas Follett, Jason Holmberg, and C. Scott Baker

“To improve understanding of population structure, ecosystem relationships and predictive models of human impact in cetaceans and other marine megafauna, we developed geneGIS, a suite of GIS tools and a customized Arc Marine data model to facilitate visual exploration and spatial analyses of individual-based records from DNA profiles and photo-identification records. We used the open source programming language Python 2.7 and ArcGIS 10.1 software to create a user-friendly, menu-driven toolbar linked to a Python Toolbox containing customized geoprocessing scripts. For ease of sharing and installation, we compiled the geneGIS program into an ArcGIS Python Add-In, freely available for download from the website http://genegis.org. We used the Lord-Castillo et al. (2009) Arc Marine data model customization as the starting point for our work and retained nine key base Arc Marine classes. We demonstrate the utility of geneGIS using an integrated database of more than 18,000 records of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the North Pacific collected during the Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific (SPLASH) program. These records represent more than 8,000 naturally marked individuals and 2,700 associated DNA profiles, including 10 biparentally inherited microsatellite loci, maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA, and genetic sex.”