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geospatial matters

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Thursday
Aug072014

Find related research based on location and biophysical attributes: Map search

Check it out: another way to search for research. JournalMap is a scientific literature search engine that empowers you to find relevant research based on location and biophysical attributes combined with traditional keyword searches. It works ok, I found one of my papers, not others. But the interface it quick and intuitive.

http://www.journalmap.org/

Monday
Aug042014

IGIS at ESRI Conference

Two members of IGIS - Shane and Robert, went to the the ESRI User Conference in San Diego this year. 

Here is their report:

We were able to see the new offerings from ESRI that will be available in November of this year.  ESRI will be releasing ArcGIS 10.3, this incremental release will have many improvements as well as new offerings that IGIS will be able to make available to the UCANR GIS Community.  These new offerings will include ArcGIS Pro http://pro.arcgis.com and Portal for ArcGIS http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgisserver/extensions/portal-for-arcgis.

ArcGIS Pro is a new desktop application that will be available to all users of GIS within UCANR.  ArcGIS Pro is a multi-threaded, 64-bit, project based GIS system that provides a fast responsive desktop application for the GIS professional. It will allow user to have multiple layouts in one document.  It will enable the GIS user to have 2d and 3d layouts available in one project.  It is what we as GIS users have been requesting for many years.

Portal for ArcGIS prior to the 10.3 release of the ArcGIS Suite was an extension for ArcGIS Server that had to be purchased separately from ArcGIS Server.  In November Portal for ArcGIS will be available for UCANR to install on the ArcGIS Server and it will provide a user interface similar to arcgis.com but within the UCANR intranet.  This will open up some interesting options for UCANR.

Beyond these two additions we will be providing access to a new open data extension for ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS for Cad.  The open data extension will allow us to provide an open data portal where the UCANR Network and the general public can go to download our data for use in other geospatial technologies.  We will provide the ability to download certain data types such as, shapefiles, kml, or csv files.  The ArcGIS for Cad extension will allow cad users within UCANR to leverage ArcGIS resources with Autocad.  This will allow UCANR to update our cad drawings of our infrastructure and have drawings with the proper coordinate system and additional attributes that are not available with Autocad.

Beyond these upcoming software releases and tools the ESRI User Conference was a wonderful opportunity to renew old and create new relationships with other GIS professionals and to see how others are using GIS around the world.  I look forward to putting these new technologies in place in the next year and to hopefully attending the user conference again in 2015.

Wednesday
Jul302014

Update from the White House on their Climate Data Initiative

Yesterday the White House launched the second phase of the Climate Data Initiative, focused on leveraging climate data and innovation to make food systems more resilient to climate change and reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change.  We are delighted to have a range of Administration announcements and private sector commitments that came together for today’s news.
 
Here is a fact sheet describing what they are announcing today: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/29/fact-sheet-empowering-america-s-agricultural-sector-and-strengthening-fo
 
And here’s a blog from White House Science Advisor John Holdren and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the launch: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/07/29/unleashing-climate-data-empower-america-s-agricultural-sector

Please share these widely with your partners and networks. Thanks for your support for the initiative and your commitment to acting on climate change!

Monday
Jul282014

Planning for the future: core values, mission statements, and strategic thinking

I've been working on two strategic plans for programs and facilities I am directing: GIF and IGIS, and am thinking about what are the key elements in such a plan that communicates clarity, purpose, and mission. The current thinking out there seems to be to think about not just Mission and Vision, but also Core Values. Here is one from ANR that can help me think through my tasks.

ANR Mission, Guiding Principle, and Core Values

Mission

The mission of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is to serve California through the creation, development and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural and human resources.

ANR Guiding Principle

ANR’s research and extension programs serve the public good of California through the creation, development and application of knowledge addressing critical issues in agricultural, natural and related human resources, through a system of community-driven research and outreach programs with CE advisors, CE specialists, and AES scientists supporting each other.

ANR Core Values

  • The highest standards of ethical behavior, honesty and integrity, with the recognition that the trust and confidence of the public is absolutely essential to our success.
  • Academic excellence and maintaining credibility as an objective source of knowledge.
  • Scientifically valid research as a foundation for anticipating problems and developing practical solutions.
  • Responsiveness to state and local needs in California, and consideration of the global context that shapes these needs.
  • Diversity within our organization, equal access to knowledge by all people, and equal opportunity for self-reliance through education.
  • Collaboration, teamwork and mutual respect among ourselves, in partnership with other organizations, and in interaction with our clientele.
  • Academic freedom, with the recognition that individual freedom goes hand in hand with a high standard of professional responsibility and personal accountability to ANR’s land-grant mission.
Wednesday
Jul162014

NEW VTM Reshoot!

Take a look at this awesome VTM reshoot from the folks over at Geographic Resource Solutions (GRS), photographed during a recent mapping project of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Yet another great example and an incredible testament to lasting power of the VTM dataset. This particular photo was taken near the Chaos Crags Jumble in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Thanks to Ken Stumpf and GRS for sharing!

Albert Wieslander (October 1, 1925): Looking N 35 degrees W from 1/4 corner 16/17 T 31-4. Foreground dwarf timber on glacial deposit. Slope in background, section 7 and 8 Tyler Brown of GRS (September,2011): At Accuracy Assessment Site 091646 located in the Chaos Crags Jumble in Lassen Volcanic National Park

In a similar vein I recently stumbled upon another meshing of historical and contemporary photographs. The project features reshoots of the Grand Canyon and resulted in a 2012 book titled: Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe

Published by University of California Press. You can see a few of the photographer’s recent projects on their website. Historical photos are just the best!

 

Monday
Jul072014

Rescuing historic data for modern use: a cautionary tale from the past

An example of a VTM vegetation map, from Shufei LeiWe have been talking recently with the HOLOS project and the IGIS InfoBase project about the need to "rescue" data and to provide frameworks for data synthesis. I present to you a profound example of these needs: the VTM project. We are nearing launch of the new VTM website, in which the maps, plots, and photograph portions of the VTM collection are united and powered by HOLOS, open data, and sharing. The journey from paper collection to digital data has been a long one, with several cases of almost accidental and purposeful destruction. As such it is a cautionary tale about the importance of rescued and shared historical data in ecological and geographical analysis. We owe much to all the people who have contributed to the preservation and digitization of this important collection.

I spent this evening reading the oral history conducted in 1985 by Ann Lange of Albert Wieslander. It is called: California Forester: Mapper of Wildland Vegetation and Soils A. E. Wieslander, and it is a fascinating read. In addition to being a real spitfire and having very clear opinions on things (and people), he also tells this tale about the near loss in 1952 of the vegetation maps. Wieslander had made 23 of his vegetation maps available for publication through the University Press, for production and sale at a cost of $1 each. This was meant to supply funds for the rest of the maps to be published. But that didn't work out as planned.

"Not very many of the maps were sold, even though articles were written to give them publicity. I realized fairly soon that we wouldn't be able to publish any more unless we got additional money someplace.” He was "casually told one day that the University Press had written a letter to the station saying that the maps weren't selling very well, and it wanted to return the quadrangles to the station. They didn't want to handle it anymore.” A forest service employee "told the University Press the station didn't want the maps back and authorized it to dump them. I didn't know anything about this until after it was done. There was nothing I could do about it then. Imagine all these beautiful maps. They didn't even take out one as a sample.”

What!! That is so shortsighted… Anyway read on…

Wies (he refers to himself "Wies" in the interviews) then found out that the University Press couldn't understand the dumping of all those maps and alerted Paul Zinke, Forestry Professor here at Berkeley.

"So Zinke went down and got twenty copies of each of the quadrangles.”

But, we still had all the original field maps, kept at the experiment station. Just before I retired, I talked with Herbert Mason about all the printed maps having been destroyed and about how it was important to preserve the originals. Researchers could use them. He suggested that the Botany Department set up in the Life Sciences Building a plant geography room. And the main feature of this plant geography room would be the vegetation mapping project. So I moved all the files of maps and sample plots over to the Life Sciences Building. Mason went through the material and found at least a third, maybe more, of the original maps were gone.” Apparently, different national forests had been writing to the station requesting certain maps. Since they didn't have any of the printed maps, originals were sent out, with no record kept of what was sent, or to whom. 

This explains why the maps have been scattered across the state, and why it has taken so long to pull them (mostly) together again. 

"The maps then made a trip back to the station, where Dr. William Critchfield used them to write a publication called "The Profiles of California Vegetation”. "Anyway, I'm glad that was done. It was a very nice publication, and it gave proper credit to the draftsman who did the beautiful job of drafting, and to the project, and to me. Then Critchfield also worked with James Griffen, of the university, and got out another publication on "The Distribution of Trees in California." It was based on the maps and other data we had." When Wies expressed "concern about these maps and Dr. Critchfield said, "I would like to get them deposited in the Bancroft Library." I don't know whether he did it or not, but that's what he told me.”

Thank goodness that they are back on campus in the Marian Koshland Library, and the plot data, plot maps, vegetation maps, and photographs will be re-united and available for use.

Monday
Jul072014

OakMapper Mobile Updated (v2.4) - available now at the App Store

OakMapper Mobile has been updated (version 2.4) to take take advantage of the latest iOS interface design and requirements. It is available for download at the Apple App Store. Existing OakMapper Mobile users are encouraged to update to the latest version.

In the last 6 months, the site receives over 1,100 visitors, resulting in over 1,450 sessions this period, which is consistent with the same period last year. Visitors come mostly from the US; and within the US states, California dominates. There are 14 new registered users from the community. Participation from the community includes 4 new SOD submissions (721 total), 1 new comment about SOD, 6 new questions/feedback, and 2 new votes on whether they have seen the reported SOD cases.

Our paper published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers has been cited 17 times according to Google Scholar.


Connors, J. P., S. Lei & M. Kelly (2012): Citizen Science in the Age of Neogeography: Utilizing Volunteered Geographic Information for Environmental Monitoring, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(6): 1267-1289

Sunday
Jul062014

Advice on writing a clear scientific paper, from Virgina Dale

Advice on writing a clear scientific paper from Virgina Dale, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Environmental Management since 2001. She says:

  • Scientific papers are not mystery novels. It is important to present the key results in the abstract of the manuscript and to have the introduction of the paper make clear both the impetus for the study and what is be presented in the manuscript.
  • Authors need to give the greatest attention to the parts of paper most likely to be read. Most people do not read a scientific paper from beginning to end but rather first focus on the title, then the abstract, and next the figures and tables. If the information presented is of interest, then the conclusion will be perused. Only those studies that have particular pertinence to the reader will be read in their entirety.
  • Organization of the material is critical. Almost all scientific papers should follow the standard format: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Authors should check that the methods are complete and that most figures and tables are presented in the results section.
  • Each paragraph should start with a strong topic sentence, which presents the main idea and hence is an overview of what is to come. The concluding sentence should summarize the paragraph and provide a logical flow to the next one.

Dale, V. H. 2014. Environmental Management: Past and Future Communications. Environmental Management  54:1–2

Sunday
Jul062014

ASPRS UAS Technical Demonstration and Symposium – October 21-22, Reno, Nevada

The ASPRS Northern California Region is hosting a 2-day symposium on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Reno, NV on October 21-22, 2014. The purpose of the event is to assemble academia, UAS developers, survey and mapping companies, government agencies, and UAS enthusiasts, to share information, showcase new technologies and demonstrate UAS systems in action (in flight). The event will be held at the Reno Stead Airport, an FAA-designated UAS test site, as well as at a symposium hotel in downtown Reno. The mission of the event is to advance knowledge and improve the understanding of UAS technologies and their safe and efficient introduction into our national airspace, government programs and business.

Saturday
Jul052014

Flight visualization

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