Tag Archives: Climate
A year ago, I wrote a blog about using ArcGIS Online to explore ecoregions, and doing it on an iPad, in addition to a regular computer. I want to enhance the map by adding another key layer: drought status. I’m interested in learning which ecoregions face a near-term issue.
The U.S. government runs a portal about drought, with maps, data, news, and links. But what if you just want to see drought data added into your ecoregion map? Think back to another recent blog entry that walked through finding and adding special services. This time, we need to find some drought data. By searching the information, links, and applications at the drought portal, I found the National Climate Data Center’s web service for the Palmer Drought Severity Index. See the combined map.
Finally, since the two color layers compete, I used the idea from another blog entry to create a three-panel map, showing a location by terrain, drought, and ecoregion. And all of this can be done on an iPad, in addition to a regular computer.
Whether working with a regular computer or a mobile device, and long-term or short-term data, and cultural or physical data, making these analytical maps with disparate resources helps students build critical content knowledge and technical skills that they can use for solving problems. This is why GIS is important in STEM education and beyond.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
A series of five new curricular activities use the spatial perspective and GIS to delve into wind and wind energy from a continental to a local scale. Four of the activities use ArcGIS Online and one uses ArcGIS desktop version 10, and all of them reside on the ArcLessons library. One might say these activities are “wind-driven!”
Analyzing Current Wind Speed and Direction in North America uses ArcGIS Online as a tool for examining the spatial or geographic dimensions of current wind speed and direction in North America. Compare your own data gathered at your location to the online current wind speed and direction. Consider why and where winds blow.
Siting a Wind Farm in Indiana uses ArcGIS Online for siting a wind farm in Indiana. Use variables such as proximity to existing powerlines, population density, and other criteria to determine the ideal site for a wind farm.
Exploring the San Gorgonio Wind Farm uses ArcGIS Online for exploring the famous, enormous San Gorgonio Wind Farm in California. Consider why terrain, wind speed and direction, and population base make this the ideal place for a wind farm through analyzing local maps and a video filmed on site. The activity ends by inviting you to investigate a different wind farm and create a map, telling its story using ArcGIS Online.
Siting a Wind Turbine on Your School Campus uses ArcGIS Online as a tool for siting a wind turbine on a typical school campus. Consider relief, proximity to buildings, wind speed, local access, and other variables, first by examining Platte Valley High School in Colorado, and then your own campus.
Siting wind farms in Colorado with GIS
uses ArcGIS version 10 as your primary investigative tool, considering the location of cities, the Continental Divide, highways, rivers, counties, wind speed and power, land use, and elevation. Data layers are from Esri, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
How might you use these activities to encourage spatial thinking, to teach and learn about wind and wind energy, and to foster GIS skills?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Spring in North America brings not only new flowers, but a new crop of tornadoes. The 2011 tornado season has already been horrific, and our hearts go out to all those affected. Like most natural phenomena, tornadoes exhibit a spatial pattern on a global, regional, and local scale, and a temporal pattern depending on season, time of day, and duration. Both the spatial and temporal components can be examined and understood with the use of GIS.
To do this, I have written three lessons and compiled data sets that may help do just that. The first, Investigating Historical and 1 Modern Tornado uses ArcGIS Online (http://www.arcgis.com, search on “Tuscaloosa owner:jjkerski”) to examine pre- and post-tornado imagery that can be toggled on and off or adjusted in terms of opacity. Using these sobering data sets, the width and length of the Tuscaloosa tornado can be examined, as well individual building types affected, and historical tornadoes by decade throughout the USA. The second, “Investigating Historical Tornadoes Using ArcGIS”, allows for further investigation, which reveals that while more common on the Great Plains and interior lowlands, tornadoes have occurred in nearly every state, and are not as uncommon in the mountain west as one might think. Contrary to popular opinion, the data also reveals that Kansas is not the area with the highest density of tornado outbreaks. Do you know what state has the highest density? See below.
Selecting the tornadoes by month shows the seasonal ebb and flow of the outbreak of tornadoes, starting from coastal areas near the Gulf of Mexico in January and increasing to a spatial maximum in July of each year. The numeric maximum occurs in April, three months earlier than the spatial maximum. During which six hour period do you think the most tornadoes touch down—between midnight and 6:00am, 6:00am to Noon, Noon to 6:00pm, or 6:00pm to midnight? Examining the historical data reveals that the tornado causing the most injuries (1,740) occurred in northern Texas in 1979 and the one causing the most fatalities (116) occurred in northeast Michigan in 1953. The lesson also invites you to discover in which elevation range tornadoes are most common, and the difference between tornado touchdowns and tornado tracks.
The third lesson invites students to download and analyze a single day of tornadoes. Using data from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, the lesson begins with an analysis of 22 April 2011, the day of the tornado that caused damage at the St Louis airport. Analysis reveals that the airport tornado was only one point along a line of tornadoes that day in that region. Wind and hail for that day are also analyzed, including the determination of the mean center and standard deviational ellipse for all storm types. The lesson concludes with the students’ selecting a different day, downloading the CSV files from NOAA, and mapping and comparing them to 22 April’s storms.
-Joseph Kerski, Education Manager
Answer: According to this dataset, tornado density is highest in sections of Oklahoma.
<IMG height=319 src="http://downloads2.esri.com/blogs/images/info_6836.jpg" width=216 align=right
If my description of the document ended with the above paragraph, it might give rise to the sense that the atlas is a picture of gloom and doom. This is not the case. The book devotes ample coverage to actions being taken on an individual to global scale, deeds that are making a difference, and some of which have been spearheaded by the Nature Conservancy through its conversation and outreach efforts (an organization that I’m proud to say I have been a member of for nearly 20 years.)
This does not mean that all is well. Hardly. The conclusion provides a succinct summarization of the three broad drivers testing the present and the future: population growth, overconsumption, and climate change, and importantly it speaks to the atlas’s subtitle: “Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference.” I particularly liked the importance the summary places on having geographic data and the maps the volume presents in helping us decide our future. Here’s a bit of the text.
The situation is serious and the future can look bleak, but this atlas holds another lesson. The maps can be seen in many ways as a series of symptoms and a diagnosis…Today we stand at a unique point in history, where we understand what is happening. We can even model and predict consequences of future actions…we now have the capacity to drive change in a positive direction.
As I was examining the book, I spied a note indicating that there is a companion Web site, http://www.nature.org/tncscience/maps/. Once on the site, to my delight, I discovered an ArcGIS Server Silverlight (requires plug-in) application which presents interactive versions of atlas maps. (Note: The site indicates that more maps are to come.) Here are a couple of the maps.
As the atlas concludes, “What will these maps look like in the future? It’s ours to decide.” I hope you take actions that help change the maps in a positive way.
George Dailey, ESRI Education Program Manager
Last week, I visited a classroom in Juneau, AK. The teacher (let’s call her “Kay”) was preparing to have her class look at some of impacts of climate change. On the nearby Juneau Icefield, two neighboring glaciers are behaving differently … one advancing, one retreating. How can this be? Can it continue? Ahhh, that’s science and geography!
Kay was a little discouraged about not having good access to strong PCs on which to do the best mapping. I assured her that, with her vision and ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education (“AEJEE”) — an aging workhorse but still powerful intro geographic information system (GIS) tool for Windows and Macintosh — she and her students could accomplish a lot. In fact, I contend that it’s vastly more impressive seeing powerful work done on modest tools than modest work done on powerful tools.
As a college student, 35 years ago, I spent a summer on the ice field, and this was my first time back. I hiked around for a couple of hours gathering GPS coordinates and taking pictures. Then I went back to my computer, converted the points and tracks to shapefiles, and displayed them along with some data downloaded from the Internet to my hard drive (roads, rivers, waters), and some data used on the fly (USGS Seamless Elevation), using AEJEE on a Mac, like Kay does.
The Mendenhall has been retreating for a century, while the Taku has pushed steadily forward. How can this happen, will it continue, and what does it mean for the residents? That’s what Kay and her students will be exploring.
In a week when a U.S. Congressman demonstrated a rather dreadful grasp of science and geography (regarding the physical stability of the island of Guam), it should be apparent to all that we need our youth (and leaders!) to see the world holistically, using powerful geographic tools to explore and understand better the science about the world around them, and we need educators like Kay with the excitement and energy to bring it to them.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, ESRI Schools Program
Among its many powerful features, ArcGIS Explorer (AGX) can display GeoRSS data – a data stream containing geography and attribute information. One of the most compelling features of GeoRSS is it’s ability to be readily created, allowing websites to display real-time or near real-time data. In AGX, when you link to GeoRSS data, you can even specify how often the data update.
To load GeoRSS data in AGX, use the Add Content Menu, and select GIS Services.
Click New Server Connection.
Set the Server Type to GeoRSS and copy one of the example GeoRSS URLs below into the Server field. Press Next.
- USGS M2.5+ Earthquakes (last 7 days) – http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/catalogs/7day-M2.5.xml
- USGS M5+ Earthquakes (last 7 days) – http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/catalogs/7day-M5.xml
- Pacific Tsunami Warnings -http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/feeds/ptwc_rss_pacific.xml
- Indian Ocean Tsunami Warnings – http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/feeds/ptwc_rss_indian.xml
AGX will then connect to your GeoRSS feed and verify the data is readable. You will be prompted to select a service refresh option: a specified time interval or at start-up. For most data that doesn’t rapidly change, refreshing at start-up should work just fine.
Note that clicking on a GeoRSS symbol on the AGX map pulls up a window that contains the web page referenced by the specific GeoRSS item.
After the data displays on your map, you can change the Symbols (right-click on the GeoRSS name) to better reflect your data. I added some warning shields to indicate earthquake locations.Note that you can also add your own symbols.
It’s just that easy to display real-time data from GeoRSS.
And now, for something a little different, some Flickr fun.
Flickr, one of the web’s most popular photo sharing sites, allows users to search for recently uploaded images, based on place names. Notice in the sample URL below, “Oklahoma” and “Oklahoma+City” can be replaced with cities and states that matter to you.
Flickr (example, Oklahoma City) – http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/United+States/Oklahoma/Oklahoma+City&format=rss_200
I can add this GeoRSS data feed to AGX, just as I did before. And as before, I’ll also change my Symbols, perhaps to a camera.
Explore the web and see if you can find some of your own GeoRSS data feeds! In fact, post them below to share with everyone!
- Tom Baker, ESRI Education Manager
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.
Seeing is believing. Recent innovations in visualizing basic information through maps has made more of the public aware of the power of geography. Seeing spatial patterns is still truly eye-opening for many, which is at the same time exciting to see and yet disconcerting that it can have lain “hidden in plain sight” for so many for so long. But the really important element is combining visualization with analysis. “What’s where?” is important, but multiplied many times over if you know also “What’s it like in relation to other things and other places?” That’s analysis. I wanted to write this week’s blog about one favorite topic — oceans — and wound up instead coming back to a different one — the power of analysis.
This past weekend marked the 24th Annual International Coastal Cleanup — an effort lead by Ocean Conservancy to collect trash from and along the waters of the world, and educate people about the need to be more responsible for our impact on the planet. It’s a very important mission, and people have been engaged in many places. Ocean Conservancy’s 2008 report on ICC and 2007 report on the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program have important content, but the data must be scoured to “get it.” The reports lack the impact that comes from even a single analytical map.
Earlier this year, there was attention in the news to a report about the level of plastic debris in the ocean. Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been doing analysis, and reporting their findings through analytical maps. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report this week showing that global sea-surface temperatures for August and northern summer were the warmest on record. (See also my “Exploring Climate Change” blog entry from last week.) Visualizing a robust analysis can be done swiftly with a well-constructed map.
Global Surface Temperature Anomalies (image from NOAA)
The power of GIS is the combination of two elements: visualization AND analysis. Processing and classifying a large volume of data, making decisions about what constitute sensible divisions, and symbolizing them in ways that communicate a message … that’s the power of GIS.
In 1989, I was flying home from Washington DC, sitting in my usual window seat. The next seat was occupied by a US Congressman from my state. Halfway through the trip, he put away his work and looked up. I took that opportunity to introduce myself and hand him a newsletter I’d written for our state geography alliance. He flipped in just a few seconds through 11 of the 12 pages, but spent five full minutes studying a full-page thematic map. That’s impact.
Visualization is good. Visualization PLUS analysis is infinitely better. To see a final, simple, interactive example, go to www.esri.com/mapping and look at the map on the right. It’s dynamic, so you can move the map around, and shift the slider bars, and even change the topic. Visualization PLUS analysis … that’s where it’s at!
One cool thing about being an educator is that there’s no end of subjects that matter. One cool thing about being a geographer is seeing the ways in which all things are related. And one cool thing about being a techie in the 21st century is that there is unlimited opportunity for exploration.
In preparation for Earth Science Week, I built a lesson using ArcGIS Explorer, in order to do some quick examination of one indicator of climate change — sea surface temperature. The lesson relies on data in KML format from the NASA Earth Observation web site. You can find the lesson at ArcLessons. Just do a search on “Climate”.
Despite the fun exploring with cool tools, it’s a little discouraging to look down the road at the implications. The lesson asks the user to “act” by creating a presentation. I hope users will consider other actions as well.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager, ESRI Schools Program