Daily Archives: April 9, 2012
“Can web GIS be used in science?” asked several visitors to our exhibit at the recent conference of the National Science Teachers Association. The resounding answer is “YES!” Besides the typical examples of volcanoes and earthquakes, rivers and watersheds, tornadoes and hurricanes, and oceans and atmosphere, a new opportunity has arrived, thanks to the researchers at Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC).
Carbon density is an issue of huge concern for global climate change and land use decision making: What’s the amount of live woody biomass over a given parcel of land? WHRC researchers have created a dataset for the land between the Tropics, at 500m resolution, and posted it in ArcGIS Online. You can see it in an embedded map, and read about the impact of carbon, and how the data were assembled.
With a hypothesis in mind, I used ArcGIS Online to create a three-panel map, looking at biomass, terrain, and human population density, then synchronized scale and location.
On my computer, I explored key sites within Indonesia (above). On my iPad, I browsed over to Brazil and looked at the province of Rondonia (below). Many sites deserve scrutiny over time.
Carbon storage, environmental health, and land conservation are vital in discussions about climate, population, and food. Seeing the patterns and examining the relationships are important tasks for science teachers. Students must become map-savvy to take advantage of the growing rivers of data. These biomass data came from a mix of MODIS and LiDAR data. Understanding the nature of these data gathering techniques helps students grasp what the data mean. This a fabulous blend of physics, chemistry, biology, earth, and environmental sciences. So, without question, web GIS is good for science! Certainly the scientists at WHRC think so!
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager