Author Archives: Dawn Wright
Researchers today need to deal with an avalanche of data—from environmental sensor networks (both on land and at sea), social media feeds, LiDAR, and outputs from global- and regional-scale atmospheric circulation and general climate models and simulations. Because of this, “big data” is emerging as a major research theme for the academic community.
I recently had the opportunity to attend GIScience 2012, which is convened every two years and brings together leading researchers from around the world to reflect on a wide spectrum of geographic information science research areas. Attendees are normally university academics and graduate students working in the areas of geography, computer science, information science, cognitive science, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, social science, environmental sciences, and spatial statistics.
On a planet where 71 percent of the surface is covered by water, the oceans are critical for life itself. They feed us, regulate our weather patterns, provide over half of the oxygen that we breathe, and provide for our energy and economy. Yet only 5 to 10 percent of the ocean floor and of the waters beneath the surface have been explored and mapped in a level of detail similar to what already exists for the dark side of the Moon, for Mars, and for Venus.
GIS technology, which has long provided effective solutions to the integration, visualization, and analysis of information about land, is now being similarly applied to oceans. Our ability to measure change in the oceans (including open ocean, nearshore, and coast) is increasing, not only because of improved measuring devices and scientific techniques, but also because new GIS technology is aiding us in better understanding this dynamic environment. This domain has progressed from applications that merely collect and display data to complex simulation, modeling, and the development of new research methods and concepts.
What have we learned after 100 years?
On April 15, 1912, more than 1,500 passengers and crew aboard the RMS Titanic perished at sea in one of the most infamous maritime disasters in all of human history. She was the largest ship afloat at the time, but the location of her wreckage remained a mystery until 1985. Many have seen similarities between the sinking of Titanic and the struggles of the gigantic cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the coast of Italy almost 100 years later. Continue reading