Monthly Archives: March 2009

ESRI TV on YouTube

ESRI has over 120 instructional videos now loaded on YouTube. Visit the ESRITV profile now on YouTube!

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Fun with GIS Using AGX#19: Flooding Fargo

As a nearly lifelong resident of Minnesota, I grew up understanding the geography that feeds into the floods of the “Red River of the North”. In southern California this weekend, I heard radio personalities asking each other questions about the flooding. I decided to create a project using ArcGIS Explorer (or “AGX,” ESRI’s free, downloadable, 3-D geo-exploration tool) to demonstrate the geography.

First, I zoomed in to the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, and tipped AGX to show local relief. Even exaggerating elevation by a factor of 10, nothing changed. It’s just very, very flat here! So, if a river rises a bit and goes beyond its usual borders, it can mean widespread trouble. Like all rivers, the Red flows downhill, which in this case is north, toward Canada. When it’s still cold and frozen up north, but melting in the south, the water backs up.

The USGS website provided the National Hydrology data. I added the ArcIMS server and chose the “nhdgeo” service. I turned off all layers except the three “Flowline” elements, added the data as “vector”, and accepted all other defaults. When it drew, I returned to an overhead view.

From the NOAA website of Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, I chose the Eastern North Dakota/ Grand Forks zone, and headed to the downloads section. After downloading the “KMZ (Observed)” file and adding it to my map, I could see the gauges showing significant flooding.

Strong autumn precipitation had filled the waterways and saturated the ground, and the early and persistent winter cold plus a good blanket of snow kept it frozen, so that when the spring rains and warm temperatures hit in the southern part of the watershed, the water began to rise.

Analyzing just how high the river might rise would require full ArcGIS Desktop plus a detailed database and hydrologic and weather models but, all by itself, ArcGIS Explorer is a powerful tool for understanding why the flooding here can be so dramatic.

We send our hopes and prayers to those facing yet one more way in which geography matters.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Co-Manager for ESRI’s Program for Schools

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Analyzing Redoubt Volcano in ArcGIS Explorer

As Mount Redoubt volcano in Alaska has begun a new series of eruptions, it provides a relevant and interesting current event with numerous possibilities for spatial analysis. Volcanoes by their very nature lend themselves well to 3-D study, so let us use ArcGIS Explorer to investigate Mount Redoubt’s vicinity. Begin by zooming to the region in the Cook Inlet (Latitude 60° 29? 07? North, Longitude 152° 44? 35? West) and becoming familiar with the location of the volcano. In 1778, Captain James Cook reported Redoubt as in an eruption, and it has erupted several times since then. As you pan and move around the volcano, elevation 10,197 feet (3,108 meters), answer the following questions.

Is the volcano capped by ice and snow? What river valleys are in the vicinity that would be potentially impacted by a lahar? Which direction do these rivers flow?

A quick measurement as shown by the red line indicates that the community of Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula across the Cook Inlet is less than 62 miles distant, to the east. What is the danger posed by Redoubt both in its immediate vicinity and across the Cook Inlet? How far away is Anchorage? What direction do the prevailing winds need to blow for Anchorage to be adversely affected by Redoubt? Based on the transportation layer that you can turn on, and the boundaries and names, where in this area does most of the population live? Examine the ash cloud on: What direction did the ash cloud on 23 March 2009 actually move? What danger does Redoubt pose to ships on the Cook Inlet, or to commercial aircraft flying into the airport at Anchorage?

The volcano is 10,197 feet (3,108 meters) high. How does this compare to Augustine or other nearby volcanoes? One could also add a marker to the summit of Redoubt in ArcGIS Explorer. To the marker could be added media such as a current photograph of the volcano or a link to the live USGS volcano camera feed on:

- Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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Coming to a City Near You: Creating Effective Web Maps Seminar

ESRI will host Creating Effective Web Maps, a series of complimentary seminars, in more than 40 cities starting April 30. If you want to create Web applications that meet today’s high expectations for Web mapping, we encourage you to attend. You will find out how to apply best practices to easily and quickly deploy modern Web maps and make the most of your investment in GIS data and infrastructure. Learn more.

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Learn about GIS in Second Life

Michael N. DeMers, an associate professor of geography at New Mexico State University, teaches GIS to some of his students using the online virtual world of Second Life. He takes us inside the metaverse.

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Fun with GIS Using AGX #18: Resource Center

Users of ArcGIS Explorer (or “AGX,” ESRI’s free, downloadable, 3-D geo-exploration tool) may have checked the ArcGIS Resource Centers for good content in the past, but if you haven’t been there for a while, it’s worth another visit. The ArcGIS Explorer Resource Center can be accessed from there, of course, but so can the ArcGIS Desktop Resource Center, which has a set of enticing resources for the AGX user.

Hitting the ArcGIS Desktop Resource Center and then choosing the “Data” tab at the top opens the door to terrific data treasures through the second row of tabs. There is content for the World, the US, US states, plus individual countries and cities. Most of these are listed with .mxd files for the ArcGIS Desktop user, but a number of their resources can also be drawn with AGX. I hit the “US State Maps” tab and chose West Virginia. Looking at the description, it seemed a good resource to explore.

In AGX, I chose “File/ Open/ Server/ ArcIMS/” and added the address for West Virginia. When it connected, I spilled it open and scrolled down to the bottom for “WVEasyMap”. I accepted the default choices in AGX, and an enticing new layer appeared on my map!

To see the hills and mountains of WV from a distance, I changed the vertical exaggeration: “File/ MapProperties/ Effects/ Environment”. With the exaggeration at “10″, I tilted the display, zoomed in, and was able to see the effect that local relief has on some of the settlement and transportation patterns in the state.

There is more and more data worth exploring online, including increasing volumes of local content. And AGX is about to become an even stronger platform for doing these explorations. See what’s possible!

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, ESRI K-12 Education Co-Manager

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Geographic Literacy in U.S. by 2025

For more than a decade, the National Geographic Society and ESRI have worked together to advance the cause of geographic literacy in the United States.

This new ArcNews column represents the next step in that collaboration. We are reaching out to the ESRI user community, the largest organization of GIS professionals in the world, to engage you in this important campaign.

In this inaugural column, I will address the questions of what geographic literacy is and why GIS professionals have such an important role to play in our campaign to increase the rate of geographic literacy in the United States. In future “Geo Learning” columns, I will describe specific ways that you can get involved in this effort.

It’s no secret that Americans know next to nothing about geography. The most recent National Geographic/Roper Poll (2006) found that half the 18–24-year-old Americans surveyed could not locate New York on a map of the United States, and nearly 6 in 10 could not locate Ohio.

Read more at ArcNews Online.

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New Developments in Integrating Imagery with GIS and ESRI TV, a YouTube Channel

The boundary between GIS and Remote Sensing is becoming increasingly blurred. Two presentations recently given at the ESRI Federal User Conference give further evidence of this by demonstrating new capabilities of integrating imagery into GIS-based analysis. Both of these presentations are on YouTube, on:

ESRI FedUC 2009 Imagery Presentation – Part 1


ESRI FedUC 2009 Imagery Presentation – Part 2

Some of these capabilities are already here, and some are soon to come. One of the most exciting capabilities is the ability of adding real-time images for analyzing rapidly-changing phenomena such as wildfires. For the educator, the benefits include more imagery being available through such portals such as ArcGIS Online and more image processing tools being part of ArcGIS and ENVI software. In addition, these tools have become much easier to use than in the late 1980s when I first started using Remote Sensing software, which is particularly good news for educators who only have a limited amount of time to spend immersed in GIS or remote sensing software.

For more GIS-based videos, keep up-to-date with the ESRI TV channel on YouTube, on: You can subscribe to this channel, like I do, so that you receive a notice every time a new video is posted to this channel. Over 120 videos are currently on this channel on a wide variety of topics ranging from how to create georeferenced PDFs in ArcGIS to exporting KMLs to a preview of ArcGIS Explorer 900.

- >Joseph Kerski, ESRI Education Manager

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Achievements of ArcGIS in Secondary Schools in Rwanda

Achievements of ArcGIS in Secondary Schools in Rwanda:

  1. GIS textbook with Rwandan content
  2. 120 teachers trained
  3. 10 schools established as GIS training centers
  4. 40 schools working with GIS starting January 2009
  5. Certification process for GIS teachers
  6. Curriculum development launched in 2008
  7.Students’ map competition and ESRI Summer Camp

To learn more, read the PDF newsletter.

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GIS and MonsterQuest : Snowbeast Slaughter

MonsterQuest : Snowbeast Slaughter airs on Wednesday March 25 08:00 PM (MDT),
History Channel

High in the rugged wilderness of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains a large hairy creature is said to be preying on the elk and frightening residents. The stories date back centuries with the earliest settlers describing terrifying encounters with a large beast whose scream bellows across the hills. Even today ranchers and hikers report a monster they can’t explain that may be attacking their horses. MonsterQuest will sift through the evidence and determine what may be killing the elk. The aerial search ascends to 11,000 ft in search of fresh evidence that could lead to the creature; as the ground team scales the side of Pikes Peak to hunt for the legendary Snowbeast.

GIS work done by the Pueblo County GIS Coordinator, Chris Markuson

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