Author Archives: Dawn Wright
Last week President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh, an event co-hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Esri was among many of America’s leading innovators invited to come together to discuss how … Continue reading
by Jyotika I. Virmani, Senior Director of Energy and Environment for XPRIZE and Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist
Over 60% of the Earth’s surface has not yet been mapped. The ocean covers 70% of our planet’s landmass, and of that, less than 15% of the sea floor has been mapped at a resolution greater than 5 km. In fact, we have higher resolution maps of the entire surface of the Moon, Venus, and Mars than we do of our own Earth. But this situation can be changed. We are in the midst of a Technological Revolution and with the advent of exponential technologies such as 3D printing, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, we now have smaller and cheaper tools and greater access to information.
Mapping the sea floor has, historically, been a challenge. Seawater is obviously opaque, which prevents us from using visible, remote surveying techniques to get maps of the sea floor. Seawater is a harsh and corrosive medium and, with a viscosity greater than air, it has additional engineering challenges such as high friction resulting in rapid power drain for any device that is used to map the bathymetry underwater. It is also expensive to access because the technology of today requires ships to sail to the area being mapped before the mapping technology is deployed. At an average cost of $60,000 a day, it can easily cost a few hundred thousand dollars before mapping can even begin.
The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a 3-year competition launched last December, is incentivizing innovators to develop the autonomous underwater robots we need to map the sea floor at 5m or higher resolution and take high-definition images of the deep sea. Within this is a $1 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Bonus Prize, for teams who can develop an underwater tracking device that can autonomously track a biological or chemical to its source. The devices will be shore-based or aerial deployments, removing the massive costs associated with ships. The competition will conclude in December 2018 and, like all other XPRIZE competitions, there will be a number of technical solutions that emerge to provide underwater cartographers the tools they need to survey the sea floor.
The Arctic environment is a leading indicator of climate change. The shifts that will eventually affect the entire globe are among the most visible there. A comprehensive understanding of the shifts occurring in this area are crucial now more than ever.
Traditional imagery of the Arctic was collected via aircraft, but is very limited due to the inhospitable and remote nature of the polar region. Now 3-D digital elevation models (DEMs) of the entire Arctic are scheduled for release by 2017. With a resolution of 2 m, these new DEMs are over one hundred times higher resolution than what has previously been available for the entire Arctic. This has been made possible through a unique public private partnership between Esri, the White House and several important partners by way of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery.
Today the first of these rich elevation models covering the State of Alaska is being released. They are the first deliverable of the ArcticDEM project, created after a January 2015 Presidential Executive Order calling for enhanced coordination of national efforts in the Arctic. Climate Change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now. President Barack Obama spoke about the project at an Arctic conference in Kotzebue, Alaska on September 3, 2015 and called for action to reverse the trend of climate change, an exponentially growing problem for the entire planet.
Scientists Gather to Discuss the Impact of GIS in Future and Present Challenges
Esri has always embraced the intellectual domain. So when it became evident that User Conference attendees beyond traditional geographers and GIScientists could benefit from domain science targeted discussions, ideas for a special event began to form. Further deliberation produced a theme for the event — Advancing Science through GIS: Today’s Challenges and Preparing for the Future — and the foundation for Esri’s inaugural Science Symposium was laid.
Special keynote address, discussion panel, and reception to engage and enlighten scientists
- A keynote address by Margaret Leinen, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, current president of the American Geophysical Union, and a US State Department Science Envoy.
- A conversational reaction panel of GIScientists moderated by Mike Goodchild (UCSB Geography emeritus) with John Wilson (USC Spatial Sciences Institute), Marco Painho (U. Nova de Lisboa Geography), Ming Tsou (San Diego State Geography), and Cyrus Shahabi (USC Computer Science).
- Audience Q/A and discussion.
- Networking reception: Enjoy stunning views of the San Diego Harbor, delicious appetizers, and a hosted bar of beer, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water.
It is Earth Science Week! Since October 1998, the American Geosciences Institute has organized this national and international event to help the public gain appreciation and understanding of Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. We want to … Continue reading
Updated December 10, 2015
Science at Esri continues to be an exciting initiative where we are concerned with supporting both basic and applied science, while also recognizing that there are many major themes of compelling interest to society that will drive scientific research for the next two decades. Thus we view science as helping us to understand not only how the Earth works, but also how the Earth should look (e.g., by way of geodesign), and how we should look at the Earth (i.e., by way of Earth observation in varying forms and the accompanying data science issues of analysis, modeling, developing and documenting useful datasets for science, interoperating between these datasets and between various approaches). In addition to supporting the science community, we seek to do good science at Esri ourselves, as it underpins much of what we do as an organization. This is helping us to evolve ArcGIS into a comprehensive geospatial platform for science; a platform that supports research project management and collaboration, spatial analysis, visualization, open data, and communication of science, all at multiple scales (i.e., from individual researcher to lab workgroup, to multi-department, multi-university, university-to-agency collaboration, to citizen engagement).
You can always track the totality of the Esri science initiative at esriurl.com/scicomm,Hot! but in this post I’ll share some highlights from 2014, and as we near the end of 2015′s first quarter, talk about the immediate road ahead. Continue reading
Parallels between the GIScience Community in the Early 1990s and the Current State of Data Science
I came of age in the early 1990s, as the technology driving geographic information systems (GIS) was beginning to successfully “handle” geospatial data at a range of scales and formats, and a wide array of information technology products emerged from an expanding GIS industry.
However, that small community struggled to reflect the diverse research efforts at play in understanding the deeper issues surrounding geospatial data, and the impediments to effective use of that data (see a GIS history timeline).
Deeper issues? Continue reading
Recent innovations in information, analyses, and science-policy linkages can help guide the planet towards a more resilient future.
For many of us when we think about the ocean, it’s a situation of “out of sight, out of mind.” In our limited awareness of the ocean, we see only the surface and think only of vast expanses of lifeless water, not realizing all of the complexities at play.
In fact, the ocean provides over HALF of the oxygen that we breathe. It regulates ALL of our weather patterns, it feeds us, and it provides for our energy and economy.
The ocean is a champion at absorbing human-derived (anthropogenic) CO2. Around half of all carbon dioxide produced by humans since the industrial revolution has dissolved into the world’s oceans. Coastal habitats store five times more carbon than do inland tropical forests. This has all helped to slow global warming.
So in reality, the ocean is vital to all of us, no matter WHERE we live. Continue reading
Next-generation techniques are already changing the way we do science. Recently the National Academy of Sciences convened a Workshop on Identifying Transformative Research in the Geographical Sciences. Given that so many of the challenges that we currently face are place-based … Continue reading