GIS, just another three letter acronym, or an integral part of research and teaching?
Today, when students need spatial information, they no longer turn first to paper maps. Rather, they use web browsers to search for and to display digital images and Geographic Information System (GIS) datasets. GIS is a computer-based system used to capture, store, edit, display, analyze, and plot geographically referenced data at any scale. Researchers and instructors have found that use of GIS very much helps to discover interrelationships among often very complex variables.
On April 5, Bill Guthe, the Coordinator of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing in OIT’s Educational Technologies Center led a Lunch ‘n Learn session that explored the use of GIS in research and the classroom.
Drs. James Smith and Hongbo Su of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering described how they use GIS and remotely sensed images in their research and instruction.
Dr. Hongbo Su, a member of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Eric Wood’s Land Surface Hydrology Group, demonstrated the use of GIS datasets taken from both satellite and surface measurements to observe soil moisture and the effect of evaporation of land surfaces throughout large study areas in Oklahoma and Iowa.
Dr. James Smith is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Program in Geological Engineering and the Director of the Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources. His research interests concern the hydrology, hydraulics, and hydrometeorology of extreme floods. His presentation focused upon NSF-funded research of extreme flooding in the Baltimore metropolitan area. His group had examined in detail a well developed urban area prone to very frequent floods. GIS helped to map over time a range of urban features of the ecosystem (such as storm water retention and run off from storm drains), as well as associated physical and biological events. The work also mapped related meteorological events in an effort to understand better the impact of the urban environment on the river system.
Wangyal Shawa, the Geographic Information Systems Librarian, is responsible for the design, launching, and management of an automated digital cartographic and geospatial information service in a campus-wide networked environment. He provides ongoing reference, research consultation, and instruction to users and library staff. He described the types of data in Princeton’s collection as well as resources available free from the federal government.
He demonstrated worldwide data sets that display political boundaries down to the municipal level and world linguistic data. He then demonstrated an interesting use of the data by layering historical maps of Princeton upon current maps to illustrate the significant changes over time.
For more information about GIS, check out the Digital Map and Geospatial Information Center. There is a GIS Support Organization organized on Blackboard and Workshops on GIS are often available at www.princeton.edu/training. There will also be a GIS Day on November 15, 2006.
Posted by Lorene Lavora