Tag Archives: Imagery
A new set of activities about the Earth have been added to ArcLessons that promote geoliteracy through earth investigations as quizzes and matching activities. Each of them model “What’s Where?” “Why is it there?”, and “So what?” The first was created by a colleague at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas, entitled, “Where in Indian Country?” In it, clues about physical and cultural geography are used to match satellite images with monuments, each of which is significant to Native Americans. Monuments speak to history and landscape, representing wars, warriors, gods, and animals; some are natural wonders of spiritual significance. A brief description of each of 15 monuments is included on the slides. Through this activity, you are thinking spatially and considering geography, culture, climate, landforms, land use, and other factors.
I created an activity along similar lines that I call the “City and Country Ground Image Matching”. Can you use physical and cultural geography clues to match the ground photograph provided with its correct city and country? In so doing, you are thinking spatially and considering language, culture, climate, landforms, land use, transportation methods, and other factors to determine the correct answers.
I created an Earth Quiz using ArcGIS Explorer Online’s presentation mode. The Earth Quiz asks you to think spatially and creatively about the “whys of where” using maps and imagery for famous waterfalls, cities, coastlines, and other physical and cultural features. These include the famous “Earth eye” in Mauretania, the Dorset Coast in England, and other wonderful landscapes.
Along these same lines, my ArcGIS Explorer Online “Weird Earth” set, encourages the exploration of the planet using bizarre, unusual features. Through their intriguing nature, they help students to think spatially using a variety of themes and scales. One of my favorite things about “Weird Earth” is that not all of these mysteries can be explained!
These are only a sample of the earth-based activities that promote geoliteracy that are in the ArcLessons and that are on ArcGIS Online. Keep checking this blog for additional resources that appear weekly.
How are you using these resources in your instruction?
-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Back in 1998, I and my colleagues were thrilled with the arrival of Terraserver. While maps and images for use in GIS on the web today are commonplace, back then it was revolutionary. Suddenly, thanks to an agreement between the USGS and Microsoft, the GIS community had access to USGS topographic maps and aerial photographs down to 1 meter spatial resolution for the entire USA. Two additional features made this service extra special. First, these images were georeferenced, meaning that they could be easily used within a GIS environment. Second, these images were online: No CD-ROMs or other physical media were required! After downloading the maps and aerials for our area of interest, we could read these maps and images into our ArcInfo or ArcView GIS software. True, the header files often needed to be edited first, but this resource gave us a huge leap forward because we had terabytes of data at our fingertips via http://www.terraserver-usa.com, later becoming http://msrmaps.com. Even better was when some enterprising folks at Esri wrote programs to automatically stream these images to ArcGIS.
Now, 14 years later, Terraserver was recently retired. As the National Atlas recently wrote, “We note its passing and salute all those who developed the service. Many people were involved in this groundbreaking effort. Still, there were three individuals who largely provided the vision and hard work that resulted in this remarkable service: Tom Barclay (Microsoft), Beth Duff (USGS, deceased), and Hedy Rossmeissl (USGS, retired). The National Atlas switched over to services provided by Esri so that Atlas users can continue to link from our maps to large-scale topo maps and aerial views. This takes us full circle. The National Atlas Map Maker was the first on-line, interactive mapper offered by the Federal government. It was partially developed under a joint research effort by the USGS and ESRI
A plethora of base maps, topographic maps, satellite images, and aerial photographs are now available to the GIS user and the general public such as via ArcGIS Online. Times have changed but the need for good base data lives on. While I don’t long for those days of tinkering with header files, I salute the early pioneers who made it all happen, and look forward to the future. The evolution of GIS data, and discussion about data sources, quality, and related issues are detailed and blogged weekly about in the book that Jill Clark and I wrote, entitled The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data.
I and my colleagues frequently need old aerials for land use change studies, however, and therefore, I wish Terraserver had remained online. Why couldn’t it have done so? What are now the best sources for old aerial photographs?
- Joseph Kerski, Education Manager, Esri
Take a look at this image.
Where is Socotra? Why and how do these trees grow there?
Where is the Richat Structure? Why are its origins still a bit mysterious?
Why do people create drawings on the landscape that can only be fully appreciated from above? What do you notice about the language of the text, the street names, and the landscape that give clues about the location of this image?
Examining the Earth with imagery can be a powerful resource in geography, biology, environmental studies, earth science, and in other courses. Examining imagery can be easily done through the use of ArcGIS Online. The above images are included in an investigation I entitled “Weird Earth.” This investigation includes the images above, as well as a giant lizard, mazes, an erupting volcano, the walled city in the mist, and much more.
Why Weird Earth? First, fascinating patterns, places, and phenomena abound on our planet, and some are just plain weird. Examining the bizarre is an excellent way of sparking student interest. As images are examined, the door for inquiry is opened: What physical and environmental factors caused the land and vegetation to look as it does? What do human-created objects on the landscape say about the culture and language there? What will these images look like tomorrow, in 10 years, in 100 years? Second, I wanted to illustrate that the presentation mode in ArcGIS Explorer Online is an effective and easy-to-use technology to teach such concepts.
View the investigation in presentation mode.
The presentation is dynamic: You can change the scale and basemaps from satellite images to topographic maps, street maps, and much more, while posing questions, fostering deeper inquiry into places and the processes at work behind those places. For example, when you engage students in examining Socotra using the above slide, zoom in to examine hills versus valleys and the amount of tree cover on each. Zoom out until someone recognizes the island’s location. Then discuss the effect of isolation, latitude, and altitude on the vegetative cover, and why 1/3 of the species are endemic to the Socotra Islands. Change the basemap to topographic to determine the height of the mountains and the depth of the valleys. You can add ecoregions and climate map layers and discuss how these influence the bizarre trees and other species on the island. You can add a population layer and discuss the settlement pattern of the island. Thus, these are by no means static slides. Even calling them “slides” is really a misnomer.
Even better, create your own investigations focused on other processes, specific themes, specific regions, or your own community. What do you consider unique or “weird” about your own community?
How might you use the concept of Weird Earth in your own teaching and learning? How can you use ArcGIS Online to investigate what is strange and interesting about your own community?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Weird Earth: Analyzing the Unusual and Mysterious using ArcGIS Online
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
8pm Eastern/ 7pm Central/6pm Mountain/5pm Pacific
NCGEWEBINAR: FREE for EVERYONE!
NCGE 2011 President
Education Manager at Esri
world is full of fascinating places that can be explored in the context
of a “Map Mystery” in instruction. Join Joseph Kerski for a
just-before-Halloween tour of the interesting, bizarre, funny, and just
plain weird imagery that you and your students can examine inside ArcGIS
Online. These maps and images can help foster learning about
human-environment interactions, processes, scale, and other fundamental
principles in geography, as well as building critical thinking and
Want to see change in the landscape over time, from 1975-2005? Head to www.esri.com/landsat and work with the “ChangeMatters” application. Or add the services into your activities with various GIS apps!
On April 12, 1861 the range of issues that the country had been contending with for decades erupted into armed conflict between the North and the South. It began at Fort Sumter, an island Federal fortification in Charleston Harbor (South Carolina), as Confederate artillery opened fire. Literally, surrounded by Confederate installations, in little over a day, the Union garrison there surrendered. The Civil War had begun.
There is much historical narrative content available to help you and your students better understand this event and the future ones that unfold across the ensuing years of the war. Here are some geographically-focused resources that may provide you a different/broader perspective.
Esri colleague, Allen Carroll (former chief cartographer at National Geographic) has brought 1861 and 2011 together in an online map story, http://mapstories.esri.com/sumter/. In addition to leveraging ArcGIS Online and creating a custom app, the past comes alive through the assistance of David Rumsey and primary documents from his historical map collection. These resources provide clear context to what, from a geographical standpoint, had to seem like a inevitable outcome to both sides in the fight.
The combination of the historical map content and present-day imagery also provides a 150-year look at persistence and change in the landscape. For instance, note the battery placements to the southwest of Fort Sumter and the current shoreline.
Other commanding geographic resources to explore include maps and an animation from the Civil War Trust. They provide a look at the fall/capture of the fort in April 1861 and offer maps depicting defenses in the successive years. Likewise, the National Park Service has a range of resources about Fort Sumter and associated areas.
Peer into the Civil War in greater depth (geographically and temporally) by making the most of materials in the Civil War map collection at the Library of Congress. Also ready for use is the rich array of geographic resources in the David Rumsey Map Collection, in particular nearly 300 Civil War maps and documents he has organized by publication date for easy viewing and use, such as this panoramic map of the seat of war in the Delmarva region
Stay tuned: In the coming months, we will post other resources and ideas for exploring this pivotal period in American history.
- George Dailey, ESRI Education Program Manager
The world is full of interesting and unusual places. An overhead perspective provides a fascinating way to explore these places. A new activity in the ArcLessons library invites you to analyze 24 unusual places. The activity uses a set of images on ArcGIS Online and therefore takes place entirely within a web browser, easy to teach with and learn from.
The “Happy Earth” image, just one of 24 unusual images that you will analyze in this lesson. Why is “will you marry me?” etched on top of a building? What does the Cadillac Ranch look like from above?
In working through this activity, you will begin to think spatially by making use of maps, satellite images, and the concepts of scale and measurement. You will consider human impacts on the landscape, and learn how to use GIS and maps as analytical tools.
No previous GIS skills are required for this lesson, and it can be used at the primary, secondary, or even the university undergraduate level, with different questions for each.
Because of the flexibility of the ArcGIS Online environment, you can easily add your own unusual images, or start over with your own theme. These maps are embedded inside ArcGIS Explorer Online, which allows for the presentation capabilities that you see in this activity. You can modify this one or create your own presentation.
Select five images that are of most interest to you and answer the following: What is unusual? Is this a natural feature or a human-made feature? What is its length, width, and area? In what country is the unusual feature found? What are the long-term implications of this feature? Which one of your features is in the least populated area? The most? Which feature is changing the fastest? Which one is changing the least? Why? Do you think that any of these features will exist in 100 years? If so, which ones? Which one of your features is nearest where you live? How far is it? Which one of your features would you most like to visit? Why?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Because ArcGIS Online includes imagery from several different sources collected at different times, ArcGIS Online can be effectively used to study landscape change. Recently I was teaching at the Esri East Africa office in Nairobi, Kenya, in a neighborhood experiencing rapid transformation from residential to large office blocks. After my class gathered data about street lights and streets using ArcPad running on a Trimble Juno device, we transferred that geodatabase to my computer and started ArcGIS 10. Next, I needed a base map to display behind my field-collected data. In the case of Nairobi, the best street data was from OpenStreetMap, a layer easily obtained from ArcGIS Online. Then I easily added two images from ArcGIS Online—the Esri world imagery layer, and the Bing imagery layer. The imagery layers were both useful because they allowed us to examine two different years, the Esri imagery layer (2004) and the Bing imagery layer (2010).
Now I could assess the amount of change in the neighborhood. Using the swipe tool on the Effects toolbar allowed me to easily and dynamically compare the two images. The building housing the Esri East Africa office (just north of the soccer field in middle right) did not exist in the older image, yet the boarding school across the soccer field was visible on both images.
This same technique could be used to examine your own neighborhood or any area on the planet that you are interested in studying that may have experienced human or environmental change—an area recently scorched by wildfire, converted from rangeland to farmland, covered with roads or houses, scarred by a landslide, or impacted in other ways.
Another point worth noting is that since ArcGIS Online imagery covers the world, no matter where your study is located, you will be able to obtain a base map. And, what’s more, the base maps overlay perfectly with your other data. How things have changed from a few years ago when it was difficult to obtain a base image for many areas of the planet—much less, one that overlaid your field-collected data!
What changes can you detect using imagery from ArcGIS Online?
-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Like other disasters, human and natural, the current horrendous situation with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a dynamic event, changing rapidly over space and time. Because of this, it can be effectively investigated within a GIS. GIS provides context and content, helping students understand the location and extent of the disaster through taking measurements, overlaying other map layers, and examining scale. Moreover, GIS allows students to understand how physical and human systems are interrelated, such as winds and cleanup efforts, oil and fisheries, and much more. Far from static tools, desktop and web-based GIS tools can be used together with imagery and maps that are updated daily—even by ordinary citizens.
First, download the oil and gas drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico offshore from Texas from the state’s General Land Office and bring it into ArcGIS. The density of these platforms is truly astounding:
A set of data available on ArcGIS Online includes forecasted movement of the plume, a 3-D ArcGIS set of data, ASTER and Landsat imagery, environmental impacts, critical habitat, and more, on:
ESRI created and posted an interactive map that allows the viewing of location-based feeds, including news and videos, and also allows users to add their own content, on:
The ability to add content is provided by ArcGIS Server 10 beta hosted in the Amazon Web Service infrastructure.
Dig deeper and use some remotely sensed MODIS imagery:
For daily images see:
These pages provide GIS compatible imagery. Select “more info,” select the granule of interest from the list at the bottom of the page. Click on the link to get an uncorrected 5-minute swath image, down to 250 meter resolution. Make sure you also download the world file so the image will be georegistered within your GIS. You can also download a KML and use it in ArcGIS Explorer.
For example, a 250m MODIS image is available on:
I encourage you to use GIS in your analysis of the Gulf oil spill to try to make sense of this disaster.
–Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager