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New VTM reshot, from Tim Hanson

This one from Tim Hanson. The caption from the photos (286747. 286748, 286749, 286750) reads:

"Butte County. Panorama looking SW, S. SE and E from Neal Road. Note Juniperus californica in ravine. Woodland grass type of blue oak and digger pines with occasional Ceanothus cuneatus, Arctostaphylos manzanita and Rhus diversiloba."

There is still California juniper in the ravine, including far right of the new photo, which is uncommon in Butte County. The rare Monardella venosa grows in patches of dense clay soil in the flats of the canyon. The Wieslander picture was taken on 6/24/1933 and his picture was taken on 5/3/2011.



That was a long, rolling quake

From Live EarthquakesWe felt the 6.0 quake here in Berkeley as a long, rolling, continual shimmy. Up in Napa it was considerably more than that. Lots of news about lost wine etc. There have been a number of small aftershocks since 3am, we haven't felt them here, but Napa valley is jumping this morning.



New VTM photo reshoots from Joyce - check it!

Joyce Gross is our most avid VTM photography buffs. Here are two new VTM reshoots for our viewing pleasure. Her original post here, and here are all her new photos on CalPhoto.

She says: This was the first VTM photo site I've found that required a hike to get there. Not only was the photo not taken from a road, but it was not taken from a trail. The hike from my car to the site was a little over a mile, but it felt like more. It was all uphill, and we didn't really know where we were going. The first 2/3 of the hike was along a narrow, rocky road (image below). The last third of the hike involved somewhat random wandering over rocks and around bushes towards a view we hoped to see but weren't sure exactly where it was. My Garmin GPS, and Gaia GPS on my iPad, were my friends on this hike, helping us get to the photo location and, especially, helping us get back. Thanks Joyce!

Upper end of French Lake and Black Buttes. One of the largest natural barren areas on the Colfax map.Joyce's photograph


French Lake and English Mt. Looking north, 45 degrees west. Large area of barren and semi-barren Quercus vaccinifolia.Joyce's photograph of French Lake


Measuring Development: Energy & Environment

I spoke yesterday at the CEGA-DIME* co-sponsored event: Measuring Development: Energy & Environment.  This was a terrific day of interesting talks, thoughtful conversations and great networking.

This workshop brought together engineers, social scientists, donors, and practitioners to discuss the use of novel measurement tools--including sensors, sensor networks, microsatellite imaging, and other remote sensing technologies--in energy and environment research. 

I presented an "ignite" talk on some of our mapping work and talked about the idea of "Spatial Data Science". There were a number of highlights. Matt Hancher from Google gave a great overview of Google Earth Engine and asked: "What if the micro-satellite imagery revolution works. What will you do with the data?” Great and timely question. Big Spatial Data workshop to the rescue! We heard from people at the Energy Institute at Haas who are looking at smart sensors, iButtons and billing networks to understand energy usage around the world; Ronald Cohen from the Climate Readiness Institute spoke; there was tons of discussion about low earth orbit micro-satellites from Skybox and the Spire company (they monitor AIS beacons on ships yet they also can still find them as they move back and forth through fishing zones and turn off their beacons); there was a great idea from Tony Vodacek from RIT on the need to develop “a remote sensing playbook”: What are the sensors, resolutions, bands that are needed for a particular task?. David Lobell from Stanford highlighted some of his great work in remote sensing of crop yields; and Sol Hsiang from the Goldman School outlined his fascinating work on natural disasters, economies and violence.

Background: Technologies for measuring the adoption and impact of development interventions have seen substantial innovation over the past several years—examples include the use of microsatellite data for mapping weather patterns and agricultural yields, sensors for tracking behavior change, smart meters for recording real-time energy use, continuous emissions monitoring systems for measuring particulate matter, and platforms for smartphone- and tablet-based survey data collection. At the same time, network protocols for data management, visualization, and analysis have drastically improved.

*CEGA =UC Berkeley's Center for Effective Global Action; DIME = World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation Initiative


Graduate Certificate in GIST up and running

The UC Berkeley Graduate 
 has been approved, and is up and running. This certificate will provide

t echnology,

Requirements include at
 B, and participate in a GIST Roundtable (such as the geolunch series from the GIF). The full proposal detailing requirements can be found below. Please note that acceptable courses will be updated as new courses are offered. 

For more information, please click here.



Summer 2014 Wrap Up

What we worked on summer 2014

VTM collection

Like old maps? Have we got a project for you... For more than 10 years now I have been working on and obsessed with the maps and data from the Wieslander Vegetation Type Mapping project. The original collection has been digitized, and both the analog and digital version are finally being reunited under the auspices of HOLOS. Stay tuned for the launch!

Vegetation maps courtesy of Shufei Lei

Owls and Lidar, and more broadly remote sensing of owl habitat

What is the best way to map owl habitat? Owls need canopy cover, moderate tree sizes, and large residual trees. What is the best way to map these forest characteristics over large scales? We are working with the Forest Service owl biologists to understand how owls use Sierra Nevada forests.


Our nearly 10 year project to establish an adaptive management process in the Sierra Nevada is coming to an end this year. We have learned so much, and are working on our final report that will be shared later this fall.

On the staffing side

We are so happy for Kevin Koy who is leaving the GIF to be the Executive Director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. We are actively searching for his replacement. If you are interested, look here.


Google Geo for Higher Education Summit 2014

Just got back from an amazing workshop with the Google Earth Outreach Geo Team and 50+ geospatial educators, researchers, and lab managers! 

In between stealing off on the colorful google bikes  and spending time wandering the amazing Google campus, we engaged each other in discussions of integrating Google tools into higher education and learning and attended workshops introducing the plethora of Google mapping tools.

We had a warm welcome from Brian McClendon (VP of Engineering, Geo at Google, mastermind behind Google Earth, and creator of KML) who gave a great history of the program and the creation of Google Geo and gave an exciting announcement that Google; with the acquisition of Skybox is now taking to the sky with their own satellites in hand (contrary to popular belief, Google has not to this point owned any Satellites).  With this acquisition, near-real live time imagery on Google platforms seems to be closer than ever before.

Rebecca Moore (Engineering Manager, Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine) also gave a great history of the importance of Google Earth and its transformation over the years highlighting a number of exiting things to come and products not yet released to the public including

1. A new MODIS time-lapse!

From Maggi’s blog post last year on timelapse created from LANDSAT imagery we saw the amazing capabilities to see transformations over time with the click of a button. Now Google will soon release MODIS time-lapse which having a quicker repeat interval will be able to show seasonal changes .

Check out this example here showing fires across the world, and more targeted video here! Awesome!

2. Also great news for those of you tired of the coarse resolution SRTM 90 DEM, Google is currently working to produce a much higher resolution global DEM product…stay tuned!

Throughout the 3 days, I had the opportunity to attend a variety of different workshops and came away absolutely jazzed! See below for a summary of the latest and greatest from the Google Geo team with links attached if you’re interested and want more information….. Also stay tuned for some of my renderings and products from the training!

Google’s “Ecosystem” of Technologies


Google Maps Engine (GME): hosting data and publishing maps online, and ability to build applications and connect Google’s data with your own.

GME Pro&Lite: simple map making in the cloud, visualize, draw, import a csv, and style your maps

Maps Gallery: A new way for organizations and public institutions to publish and share their maps online through the Google maps Engine

Google Crisis Map: a map interface initially used for emergency alerts, however it’s not entirely dedicated to crisis as you can easily integrate and create your own map mashup and community awareness map here

Maps Engine API (application program interface): to access Maps Engine data, create a new applications utilizing the data, stylize and create beautiful maps


Google Earth Engine: (EE), Google’s geospatial analysis platform. Earth Engine brings together the world's satellite imagery — trillions of scientific measurements dating back almost 40 years — and makes it available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the Earth's surface.

Earth Engine API (application programming interface) provides the ability to create your own algorithms to process raster and vector imagery.

Timelapse builds on Earth Engine to show decades of planetary change, both man-made and natural

Data Collection

Streetview: in Google Maps and Earth provides over five millions miles of interactive 360-degree panoramas across all seven continents; it’s the closest thing to teleportation, allowing teachers and students to virtually walk almost anywhere they dream of going. Street View began on the roads, but new technologies like theTrekker backpack or an underwater rig can take you almost everywhere.

                -Treks: Street view special collections (museums, up a mountain,etc..)

                -Views: streetview imagery crowd-sourced from user generated 360 degree photospheres. You can now connect your photospheres to create your own street view using constellations

Mobile Data Collection using Open Data Kit allows you to collect field data, such as text, photos/videos, and GPS location from an Android device where there's no internet connection and then publish that data to the web when you're back online. You can then export your data into Google Earth Engine for mapping and Google Fusion Tables for graphing, mapping and visualization. 

Visualization/ Story Telling

Tour Builder: Tour Builder is a new way to show people the places you've visited and the experiences you had along the way using Google Earth. It lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation. The new geo-enabled Powerpoint!


Thanks to Maggi for the opportunity to attend and the talented, enthusiastic Google Geo staff (including: Karin Tuxen-Bettman, John Bailey, David Thau, Christiaan Adams, and all the other workshop leads and those behind the scenes!) for developing such an action packed workshop!


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.


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 and 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 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.


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:
And here’s a blog from White House Science Advisor John Holdren and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the launch:

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

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