Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
This video covers various topics important to mapping and satellite imagery (and a lesson from an APHG teacher on how to use this video with other resources). There is so much more to the world and space than what we can see see. Chromoscope, referenced in the video, simulates other forms of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum besides just visible light. This type of information is at the core of the science behind all of our satellite imagery. This video also covers many map projection issues and highlights online resources to understand map distortion including:
"It took the folks at Google to upgrade these choppy visual sequences from crude flip-book quality to true video footage. With the help of massive amounts of computer muscle, they have scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The images are striking not just because of their vast sweep of geography and time but also because of their staggering detail."
This interactive feature shows time lapse satellite imagery of some selected locations that have experienced rapid environmental change in the last few decades (or you can simply watch the animated GIFs). These images are a way to show the power of remotely sensed data as well as massive environmental impact of rapid urbanization and globalization and the feature allows students to explore these places on their own.
Using aerial photographs that render imperiled landscapes almost abstract, Edward Burtynsky explores the consequences of human activity bearing down on the earth’s resources.
The Department of Commerce just lifted a ban on satellite images that showed features smaller than 20 inches. The nation's largest satellite imaging firm, Digital Globe, asked the government to lift the restrictions and can now sell images showing details as small as a foot. A few inches may seem slight, but this is actually a big deal.
As reported by the BBC, this change in the legal use of geospatial information could have a huge impact on many industries. Some are fearful that it could represent an invasion of privacy, and others see this as a way to harness new satellite technology to provide higher resolution data and improved data quality for researchers.
"With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites."
Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other. Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population? Satellite imagery can help answer these questions.
"NASA goes to the World Cup! Satellite imagery from each country playing."
Not that we need any extra incentive to view NASA's gorgeous satellite imagery, but now that the World Cup has entered the knockout rounds, it is the perfect opportunity to view selected images from the participating countries. This gallery of a dozen World Cup StoryMaps are but a few of the thousands of Esri StoryMaps that can serve as motivation to get your K-12 U.S. school an organizational account for ArcGIS online (then your students can make cool maps like these).
This daily dose of satellite photos helps you appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things humans have constructed--as well as the devastating...
Have you ever seen the website, The Daily Overview? The purpose of the site is to share a compelling/ informative/artistic satellite image every day to get readers to view the world from a different perspective. This article about the site is nice summary of the project. Click here for another gallery of 30 perspective-changing images.
GIS is not just for geography classes; spatial thinking and spatial data management can help students learn a variety of subjects including history. This free ebook will help history teachers to see how to unlock the power of Geographic Information Systems.
"When the Minute 319 'pulse flow' began in March 2014, it was not clear whether the effort would be enough to reconnect the Colorado River with the Sea of Cortez. Some hydrologists thought there might be just enough water; others were less optimistic. It turns out the optimists were right, though just barely. For the first time in sixteen years, the Colorado River was reunited with the Sea of Cortez on May 15, 2014."
California has had three consecutive years of below average rainfall and most reservoirs are far below their designed capacity; amid a drought this severe and wildfires, it is startling to hear of a project to restore some of the Colorado River Basin's natural patterns and ecology.
ESRI CEO Jack Dangermond discusses strengthening and investing in stem education with Trish Regan on Bloomberg Television's “Street Smart”. (Source: Bloomberg)
As announced earlier this week, ESRI will be donating ArcGIS organizational accounts to all K-12 schools in the United States, and here is a video of ESRI's CEO Jack Dangermond explaining the importance of spatial thinking in STEM education. President Obama referenced this donation during his speech at the White House's Science Fair. Currently many geography educators are planning new ways to use this to their advantage. Explore what ArcGIS can do, and consider how this might be a part of what you can do with your students (this article is a primer if you don't know what ArcGIS is yet). Click here to request an organizational account for your school.
This is a big announcement from ESRI, home of ArcGIS online and other geospatial tools. They are making ArcGIS online organizational accounts free for all K-12 schools in the United States. As ESRI spokespeople have said, "this will open up ArcGIS Online far beyond just a public account, by permitting more control of sharing, access to more data, engaging much more powerful analyses, supporting apps like Collector or Explorer, integrating with ArcMap and Microsoft Office, enabling login to Community Analyst, and lots more, with still more on the way." Click here to request an organizational account for your school.
When streams emerge from mountains, they often spread out and deposit sediment in a distinctive pattern known as an alluvial fan.
In dry areas of interior drainage (such as Central Asia and the Great Basin in the U.S.), the human settlements are often clustered along the foothills of the mountains near landforms called alluvial fans. Take time to analyze this image (and this one as well); in alluvial fans and the agricultural patterns that people create on them, we can see some striking geometric and spatial configurations that show how human settlements are highly dependent of the physical environment.
Elmhurst College’s Skills for the Digital Earth MOOC is a 4-week, online course designed to introduce how location technologies are used in society.
Ever stop to think about how important location is when using your smart phone? This educational MOOC begins with an elementary explanation of how society uses location in a myriad of disciplines. Geography, or rather, "where?" is important to all of us from various perspectives.
Within this MOOC, participants will learn what location technologies are used for, how the discipline developed and learn by doing via a series of scaffolded practical exercises. Online spatial software will be employed for any device using a browser which takes users through exercises and real world examples. It is appropriate for those with no prior experience with geographic information systems (GIS) software all the way to advanced users.
Skills for the Digital Earth will incorporate video lectures, interaction opportunities and discussion forums. Each module will feature a quiz and activities, and participants will receive a badge after each completed module to be used to demonstrate skills mastered.
I am very excited about this free MOOC offered through the Elmhurst College Online Center (they also offer the Graduate Certificate Program for AP Human Geography teachers). The instructor, Dr. Rich Schultz is the Associate Director of the National Geospatial Technologies Center of Excellence.
The high-tech project would help officials decide which abandoned buildings can be demolished.
This crowd-sourced mapping project is an great example of how a community can work together (using geospatial technologies and geographic thinking) to mitigate some of the more pressing issues confronting the local neighborhoods. Many optimists have argued that Detroit has "good bones" to rebuild the city, but it needs to built on as smaller scale. This project helps to assess what is being used by residents and should stay, and what needs to go. Want to explore some of the data yourself? See Data Driven Detroit.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
"New England's woody hills and dales hide a secret—they weren't always forested. Instead, many were once covered with colonial roads and farmsteads."
I love living in New England and finding stone walls from old farmsteads; an archaeology professor at UConn is using geospatial technologies to map out the remants of that historical landscape. This is a great example of using spatial thinking across the disciplines.
"We are pleased to introduce the world's first high-resolution HD video of Earth taken from a commercial remote sensing satellite.
This video showcases a selection of the first videos taken from SkySat-1, the first of our planned 24 satellite constellation. The video clips have not yet been calibrated or tuned. SkySat-1 captures up to 90-second video clips at 30 frames per second. The resolution is high enough to resolve objects that impact the global economy like shipping containers, while maintaining a level of clarity that does not determine human activity."
Most remote sensing videos show still images that are animated to give the temporal sequence a video-like quality. Technology is changing rapidly and this video represents an impressive leap in our ability to monitor changes on Earth's surface. To read more about SkyBox Imaging and their plans, click here.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
A computer game wants you to map the world's cropland so farmers can get more out of each harvest.
NPR has recently highlighted Crop Capture; Crop Capture is a game that uses Google Earth imagery to crowd-source agricultural data. From a pedagogical standpoint, this is a great way to visually introduce students the variety of agricultural landscapes that can be found around the world. This is an example of what many refer to as citizen science games which provides an alternative rationale for playing the game.
Educating residents, teachers and youth in a costal community in Costa Rica to use geospatial technologies to investigate, map and make a difference.
In New Hampshire they are doing great work to make mapping data useful in the classroom. This site is one that they use to show how students can map locally relevant data from an online data set. CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network) is a crowd-sourced network that gathers North American precipitation data. The data (especially the total precipitation summary) can be easily copied into as spread sheet and saved as a CSV file (which can be uploaded to ArcGIS online).
"Giant 70-foot concrete arrows that point your way across the country, left behind by a forgotten age of US mail delivery. Long before the days of radio (and those convenient little smartphone applications), the US Postal service began a cross-country air mail service using army war surplus planes from World War I. The federal government funded enormous concrete arrows to be built every 10 miles or so along established airmail routes they were each built alongside a 50 foot tall tower with a rotating gas-powered light. These airway beacons are said to have been visible from a distance of 10 miles high."
This is fascinating...just because a technology is old and outdated in modern society doesn't mean it wasn't ingenious. The original mathmeticans who calcuated angles and distances study geometry so they could navigate and 'measure the Earth.' These giant arrows are but one of those links in the geneological strands of navigational technology. Mathematics can be incredibly spatial as well as geospatial.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is now Landsat 8, and that means images are now public (woohoo!). NASA handed control of the satellite to the USGS earlier this year (May 30, 2013), and calibrated imagery is available through the Earth Explorer. Unfortunately, the Earth Explorer interface is a bit of a pain, so I’ve put together a guide to make it easier.
"Create a color-coded Visited States Map, showing off your road travel in the United States and Canada."
The map above represents where I have been (green) and where I have lived (orange). Super easy, anyone can use this site to create a PNG file that maps out North America (maximum of 5 colors, including white). For more on how to create your own, read here. Canada, Alaska and Hawaii can be included as well.
Venice is sinking--no news there. Some of the sinking is natural based on the geomorphological processes on being in a lagoon and some is based on how people have modified the physical landscape. The GREEN on the map represents restoration efforts to stabilize the city while the RED indicates that human-caused activities have produced sinking. Additionally in this new study, researchers have used remote sensing data to differentiate between the anthropogenic sinking (human-caused sinking) and the natural sinking in Venice. This city is a perfect example of the three major types of human and environmental interactions [we 1) depend on the environment, 2) adapt to the environment and 3) modify the environment] and shows the issues associated with these interactions. Click here for a hi-res image of Venice and to see why I love the city.
Dr Sarah Parcak uses satellite technology to unearth Egypt's ancient settlements, pyramids and palaces lost in the sands of time.
The uses of geospatial technologies are NOT limited to studying geography, but it is the bedrock of many research projects that involve spatial thinking (as demonstrated in this TED talk). Geographic principles and geographers can be very important components of interdisciplinary research teams.