Share Your Expertise at the Esri Ocean GIS Forum


Are you using GIS for ocean or maritime projects? If so, consider giving a presentation about your GIS applications and methods. The Esri Ocean GIS Forum offers two modes for presentations. The first is the paper presentation, which is a 20-25-minute talk supported by PowerPoint and allows time for questions and answers. These presentations are part of topic tracks and are attended by people wanting information in a specific area. The second is the Lightning Talk, which is about five minutes long, wherein the speaker gives a quick overview of a project or method to the large audience in the main hall.

This year, we are particularly interested in presentations in the following categories:

  • Coastal Protection and Marine Spatial Planning
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Ocean Science
    • Fisheries Science and Management
    • Coastal Management and Resilience
    • Ocean Science Research and Analysis
    • Ocean-Use Planning
  • Oil Spill Contingency Planning
  • E-Navigation and Hydrography
  • Ports and Shipping

Whether your talk is a paper presentation or a Lightning Talk, you need to submit an abstract for consideration by August 15, 2014.

ConnectED Commitment by Esri to Provide Free Educational Software to Every K-12 School in America

“In continuing its support of education, and in line with the President’s ConnectED vision of opening new opportunity through technology in the classroom, Esri will provide to every U.S. K-12 school in America free access to ArcGIS Online Organization accounts — the same GIS technology as used by government and business. These allow users to map and analyze data, create and share content, and collaborate in the cloud — via computers, tablets, or smartphones, anytime, anywhere connected.  This commitment expands on Esri’s successful program in pilot schools at all levels across the country, and will allow students to do projects of unlimited content, from global to local, building community, as well as knowledge and skills for college and career.”

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Air Pollution Index and its Timescale-dependent Relationship with Meteorological Factors in Guangzhou, China, 2001–2011

Environmental PollutionEnvironmental Pollution, Volume 190, July 2014, Pages 75–81

By Li Lia, Jun Qianb, Chun-Quan Oua, Ying-Xue Zhoua, Cui Guoa, and Yuming Guoc


  • Air pollution is still serious in Guangzhou, China.
  • Air Pollution Index was associated with a variety of meteorological parameters.
  • The temporal relationships were timescale-dependent.
  • The findings should be taken into account in air quality forecasts and pollution control.

MATLAB Handle Graphics“There is an increasing interest in spatial and temporal variation of air pollution and its association with weather conditions. We presented the spatial and temporal variation of Air Pollution Index (API) and examined the associations between API and meteorological factors during 2001–2011 in Guangzhou, China. A Seasonal-Trend Decomposition Procedure Based on Loess (STL) was used to decompose API. Wavelet analyses were performed to examine the relationships between API and several meteorological factors. Air quality has improved since 2005. APIs were highly correlated among five monitoring stations, and there were substantial temporal variations. Timescale-dependent relationships were found between API and a variety of meteorological factors. Temperature, relative humidity, precipitation and wind speed were negatively correlated with API, while diurnal temperature range and atmospheric pressure were positively correlated with API in the annual cycle. Our findings should be taken into account when determining air quality forecasts and pollution control measures.”

Scientists Chart Seafloor of One of Earth’s Largest Marine Protected Areas

Christopher Kelley monitoring incoming data in the sonar control room. Credit: Dan Wagner/NOAA

Christopher Kelley monitoring incoming data in the sonar control room. Credit: Dan Wagner/NOAA

On April 11, scientists returned from a 36-day mapping expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. PMNM is the largest protected area in the United States, encompassing an area greater than all its national parks combined, yet over half its seafloor has never been mapped in detail due to the limited availability of the advanced sonar systems required. The team mapped over 40,000 square kilometers (15,445 square miles) – an area four times the size of the Big Island – of previously unmapped or poorly mapped areas inside the Monument. This represents approximately 11 percent of the total area of PMNM, and includes 18 seamounts and extensive banks off Pearl and Hermes, Midway and Kure atolls.

“The goal of the expedition was to fill large gaps in seafloor data in order to facilitate future research and discoveries in the region,” said Christopher Kelley, program biologist with UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Laboratory and chief scientist of the expedition.

Carried out aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) 272-foot R/V Falkor, the expedition utilized the ship’s state-of-the-art seafloor mapping sonar systems, among the most advanced mapping technology in the world. Approximately 98 percent of the Monument’s area is deeper than 100 meters (328 feet), where features including seamounts, ridges and submerged banks are home to rare and likely undiscovered species of corals, fish and other animals. Mapping is key to finding these.

“We literally have better maps of the moon than of the ocean floor,” says Randy Kosaki,  NOAA’s deputy superintendent for research at PMNM. “These bathymetric data will go a long way toward improving our understanding of Papahānaumokuākea’s features. As natural  resource managers, we can’t manage what we don’t understand.”

A 3-D map of Turnif Seamount based on newly gathered sonar data. Credit: Christopher Kelley/HURL

A 3-D map of Turnif Seamount based on newly gathered sonar data. Credit: Christopher Kelley/HURL

Another objective of this mapping effort is to identify likely sites of deep-sea coral and sponge beds. In 2003, scientists discovered the existence of these beds within PMNM in more than 1,000 meters (approximately 3,280 feet) of water.

“On this trip, we discovered more sites in the Monument with the right type of topography to support these amazing deep sea coral gardens,” Kelley said. “We’ll have to wait until someone gets an opportunity to dive on the sites with a submersible or remotely operated vehicle to confirm they exist.”

Previous exploration of the few known beds led to the discovery of more than 50 new species of sponges and corals, according to Kelley. It is expected that more discoveries will be made as a result of the information gleaned from this trip.

The region’s geology was another key focus of the expedition. Ancient coral reefs that drowned as the earliest Hawaiian Islands subsided now hold a detailed record of that process spanning millions of years. Mapping can offer a big picture view of how various features are organized, which will help researchers better understand Hawaii’s geological history.

“We established SOI in 2009—and led the transformation of Falkor into a state-of-the-art research vessel—to support the world’s leading ocean scientists on their essential, but difficult-to-implement research,” says Wendy Schmidt, who co-founded Schmidt Ocean Institute with her husband, Eric. “The mapping and geological work conducted during this cruise and the one that follows will inform the work of Chris Kelley and his team, and through our open sharing approach, all scientists who have a stake in better understanding this region.”

Group photo of mapping cruise team. Credit: Dan Wagner/NOAA

Group photo of mapping cruise team. Credit: Dan Wagner/NOAA

The team consisted of researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, PMNM-NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Schmidt Ocean Institute, the University of Sydney and the University of British Columbia. This was the first of two expeditions slated for the spring of 2014; the second will take place from May 2 to June 6.

For more information, visit:

[Source: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa press release]


Ocean Industries and the Global Oceans Action Summit

World Ocean CouncilWOC Working to Ensure Industry Input to Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth (The Hague, 22 – 25 April 2014)

The World Ocean Council (WOC) is working to help ensure ocean business community participation in the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth (The Hague, 22 – 25 April 2014).

Organized by the Netherlands, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank, the Global Oceans Action Summit seeks to convene global leaders, ocean practitioners, business, science, civil society and international agencies to share experiences and demonstrate how combined action in partnerships for healthier and productive oceans can drive sustainable growth and shared prosperity.

The organizers have invited WOC to reach out to the global ocean business community and encourage participation in the Global Oceans Action Summit. The event organizers are especially interested in participation from the seafood, fisheries, aquaculture, oil/gas, and shipping sectors, but also from a wide range of ocean industries.

The WOC has been invited to participate in the summit’s high level session on Thursday 24 April as part of assuring that the event does connect with diverse ocean business community, as well as being invited to participate in panels on Blue Growth.

The Global Oceans Action Summit will highlight the need to address successful integrated approaches that attract public-private partners, secure financing and catalyze good ocean governance while balancing between (i) growth and conservation, (ii) private sector interests and equitable benefits for communities and (iii) Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

For more info on the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth, see

[Source: World Ocean Council  press release]

Distribution and Abundance of Rippled Scour Depressions along the California Coast

CSRContinental Shelf Research, Published Online 23 September 2013

By Alexandra C.D. Davis, Rikk G. Kvitek, Craig B.A. Mueller, Mary A. Young, Curt D. Storlazzi, and Eleyne L. Phillips


  • We quantify the patterns of RSD distribution along California’s 1200 km coast.
  • GIS tools can be used with multibeam bathymetry data for auto-classification of RSD features.
  • RSDs cover nearly as much of the California shelf (4%) as does rocky reef (8%).
  • 8% of RSD substrate occurs in the 20–80 m depth range.
  • RSD cover generally increases with proximity to bedrock reef.

“Rippled scour depressions (RSDs) are prominent sediment features found on continental shelves worldwide. RSDs are generally characterized as elongate nearshore deposits of coarser-grained sediment with long-wavelength bedforms depressed 0.4–1.0 m below the surrounding finer-grained sediment plateau, thereby adding complexity and patchiness to relatively homogeneous unconsolidated sedimentary substrates on the inner continental shelf. Most research corroborates the hypothesis that RSDs are formed and maintained by currents and wave interaction with the seafloor sediment. While many localized studies have described RSDs, we use bathymetric and acoustic backscatter data from the state-wide California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP) to describe the spatial distribution of RSDs at the regional scale.

“The goals were to: 1) quantify the abundance and patterns of distribution of RSDs along the entire 1200 km California coast, and 2) test the generality of previously described or predicted relationships between RSD occurrence and geographic, oceanographic and geomorphic parameters, including depth, wave energy, latitude, shelf width, and proximity to bedrock reefs and headlands. Our general approach was to develop and apply a Topographic Position Index-based (TPI) landscape analysis tool to identify the distinct edges of RSDs in bathymetry data to differentiate the features from other sedimentary and rocky substrates. Spatial analysis was then used to quantify the distribution and abundance of RSDs and determine the percentage of bedrock reef, sedimentary and RSD substrates on the continental shelf within state waters. RSD substrate accounted for 3.6% of the California continental shelf, compared to 8.4% for bedrock reef substrate. The percent coverage of RSD substrate varied with depth, with 88% occurring in the 20–80 m depth range, and increased with proximity to bedrock reef substrate. RSD cover also varied significantly with shelf width, but not with proximity to headlands. Given the recent findings on the ecological significance of RSD, the results are relevant to marine spatial planning and ecosystem based management in terms of evaluating how well the 68 individual marine protected areas (MPAs) within California’s newly designated state-wide MPA network collectively represent regional percentages of bedrock, sedimentary, and RSD substrate.”

Two New Free e-Books about Geodesign

Geodesign in Practice: Designing a Better World

geodesign-in-practice-cover-sm“Our world faces serious challenges, and it’s clear that we need to work together to collectively create a better future.

“Geodesign offers an iterative design method that uses stakeholder input, geospatial modeling, impact simulations, and real-time feedback to facilitate holistic designs and smart decisions. It gives us a framework for understanding, analyzing, and acting, with the ultimate goal of creating a better future for us all. Geodesign tools and techniques offer what may be our best hope for transforming the way we interact with the world.

“While there is still much more to do in order to transform geodesign into a full-fledged movement, the 12 articles in this e-book are proof positive we have already started to fundamentally transform how we think about making the world a better place. Geodesign is here to stay.”

Shannon McElvaney

Read the book [PDF]

Geodesign: Past, Present, and Future


“Geodesign thought leaders share how we got here, where we are today, and where the technology might take us.

“Geodesign is an iterative design method that uses stakeholder input, geospatial modeling, impact simulations, and real-time feedback to facilitate holistic designs and smart decisions.
“How did we get here?
“What are the current trends in geodesign?
“Where might geodesign take us in the future?
“The nine articles in this e-book, written by some of the leading thinkers in the emerging field of geodesign, attempt to answer these questions while offering the reader a revealing glimpse into the promise of geodesign: a framework for understanding, analyzing, and acting, with the ultimate goal of creating a better future for us all.”

Shannon McElvaney

Read the book [PDF]

Understanding Spatial Filtering for Analysis of Land Use-transport Data

Journal of Transport GeographyJournal of Transport Geography, Volume 31, July 2013, Pages 123–131

Yiyi Wang, Kara M. Kockelman, Xiaokun (Cara) Wang


  • We explore use of spatial filtering (SF) for regression model estimation.
  • We compare SF models and SAR-type models, and a distance decay parameter.
  • Data sets contain appraised values for private properties across Texas’ Travis County.
  • SF methods allow focus on the marginal effects of policy variables and other covariates.

“This paper summarizes the literature on spatial filtering (SF) for analysis of spatial data. Given the scarcity of its application in transportation and its fledgling nature, preliminary case studies were conducted using continuous and discrete response data sets, for land values and land use, in comparison with results from spatial autoregressive (SAR) models with distance decay parameters estimated using Bayesian techniques. For both the continuous land value and binary land use cases, the SF approach demonstrates great potential as a worthy competitor to more conventional SAR-based models. In addition to offering high fit statistics, somewhat shorter computing times, and more straightforward computations, the SF approach makes explicit the patterns of spatial dependency in the land value and land use data. By controlling for these spatial relationships, the SF approach yields more reliable marginal effects of policy variables of interest. Model results confirm the important role of transportation access (as quantified using distances to a region’s central business district, and various roadway types).”

World Ocean Council Launches Program to Engage Industry in Marine Spatial Planning

WOC Appoints Leslie-Ann McGee as Programs Director to Lead Ocean Business Community Involvement in Marine Spatial Planning

The World Ocean Council (WOC) effort to improve ocean business community engagement in marine spatial planning (MSP) and ocean policy in the US shifts into high gear with the appointment of Leslie-Ann McGee as WOC Programs Director.

Although these WOC efforts initially focus on the US, the outputs will be of importance to the ocean business community in other areas where ocean policy and MSP are actively being developed, e.g. Europe, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Ms. McGee will lead WOC Program efforts that include:

  • Ensuring that national ocean policy and planning in the US has the coordinated, proactive involvement of a well-informed multi-industry leadership group.
  • Developing a comprehensive understanding of the industry stakeholders in each of the nine National Ocean Policy regions in the US.
  • Establishing a regional ocean business council in three of the US national ocean policy regions.
  • Organizing a national ocean policy conference for industry.

Ms. McGee comes to WOC from Battelle Memorial Institute, a WOC Member Company, where she served as the Director of Ocean and Coastal Solutions since 2009. Through her leadership, Battelle has played an important role in WOC progress, especially in MSP and the recent WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit, where she served as the SOS Vice Chair.

“The World Ocean Council has created an important non-confrontational, non-regulatory venue for the ocean business community to collaborate on ensuring responsible use of marine space and resources. I am very excited to join WOC in this journey and look forward to working with industry, government and NGO colleagues to contribute to WOC’s success,” noted Ms. McGee.

Ms. McGee co-chaired the MSP session at the recent Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS 2013) where industry participants addressed the business case for MSP, how ocean industries can ensure they are informed and engaged in a coordinated, proactive manner and what is needed to make sure that MSP reflects the needs and opportunities for responsible economic activity.

Ms. McGee stated that, “Without informed and coordinated business involvement in MSP – which seeks to guide the intensity and location of uses in an area – there is a significant risk that planning will not fully consider existing and potential economic activities and will miss out on key marine resource, use and ecosystem information held by industry.”

Ms. McGee’s background makes her ideal for helping lead WOC efforts to develop collaboration and leadership in developing solutions to the shared marine environmental challenges facing ocean industries. She has experience, credentials and reputation as an excellent collaborator and has developed successful partnerships with industry, NGOs and other stakeholders to form cohesive management strategies.

“The connectivity of WOC’s work on marine spatial planning will benefit the other work programs of WOC such as Smart Oceans/Smart Industries, marine sound, biofouling and invasive species, the Arctic, etc. We are thrilled to be able to move forward aggressively and immediately on the issues of ocean policy, governance and marine spatial planning with the help of Leslie-Ann,” stated Paul Holthus, WOC Founding CEO and President.

In her role as Programs Director, Ms. McGee will support the development and implementation of the WOC Work Program. As such, her major focus will be to work with the CEO and WOC Members to coordinate collaborative efforts to develop science-based solutions to the priority shared marine environmental issues that have been identified and included in the WOC Work Program.

[Source: World Ocean Council press release]

Bedmap2: Improved Ice Bed, Surface, and Thickness Datasets for Antarctica

The CryosphereThe Cryosphere, 7, 375–393, 2013
“We present Bedmap2, a new suite of gridded products describing surface elevation, ice-thickness and the seafloor and subglacial bed elevation of the Antarctic south of 60◦ S. We derived these products using data from a variety of sources, including many substantial surveys completed since the original Bedmap compilation (Bedmap1) in 2001. In particular, the Bedmap2 ice thickness grid is made from 25 million measurements, over two orders of magnitude more than were used in Bedmap1. In most parts of Antarctica the subglacial landscape is visible in much greater detail than was previously available and the improved data coverage has in many areas revealed the full scale of mountain ranges, valleys, basins and troughs, only fragments of which were previously indicated in local surveys.
Bedmap2 ice thickness grid

Bedmap2 ice thickness grid.

“The derived statistics for Bedmap2 show that the volume of ice contained in the Antarctic ice sheet (27 million cubic km) and its potential contribution to sea-level rise (58 m) are similar to those of Bedmap1, but the mean thickness of the ice sheet is 4.6 % greater, the mean depth of the bed beneath the grounded ice sheet is 72 m lower and the area of ice sheet grounded on bed below sea level is increased by 10 %. The Bedmap2 compilation highlights several areas beneath  the ice sheet where the bed elevation is substantially lower than the deepest bed indicated by Bedmap1. These products, along with grids of data coverage and uncertainty, provide new opportunities for detailed modelling of the past and future evolution of the Antarctic ice sheets.”