GIS at Dickinson College

GIS News, Events and Student Work blog

Explorer cartoon e

Check out our collection of You Are Here Cartoons!

Over the years, James Ciarrocca, GIS Specialist of Dickinson College, has been collected “you are here” themed cartoons from local papers. These original clippings have been digitized for your personal enjoyment. Want to know more about the collection? Contact us!


These cartoons are being used for a nonprofit educational purpose and are in no way meant to affect the potential market of the cartoonists. The nature of this collection is to reflect on humans’ spatial literacy or in this case illiteracy. Enjoy! 


GIS goes Green

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12:00am

Esri CityEngine

Courtesy: Esri


Visual impact analysis of proposed building in downtown Philadelphia using CityEngine.


First, the disclaimer. Any numbered list is inherently subjective. So there are bound to be resources that you might know about that I haven’t included here, primarily because I haven’t heard about them (yet).

This list was curated based primarily on whether the site, portal or database in question expands conventional wisdom about how technology can be used to address climate change or sustainable business practices. Several (such as FreshRealm, GridWaste and MySolarCity) represent intriguing twists on how the Internet can help reinvent business models or improve customer engagement.

If you want to consider a broader selection of Web and mobile resources that have been available for a longer time, here are two of my previous lists (still relevant).

Rather than updating information in those past stories, this latest list offers 10 additional resources or platforms worth watching during the next 12 months.


Although Esri (aka the Environmental Systems Research Institute) has been around for more than 30 years, its online geospatial resources have sparked a veritable “app revolution” over the past several years among urban planners and sustainable business innovators. The latest version of the CityEngine platform (released in October) is used in combination with the company’s ArcGIS mapping resource. Its main purpose is to convert two-dimensional diagrams into three-dimensional models that show details such as how a new building could affect solar exposure or whether it will create heat corridors.

Coastal Defense

The platform helps businesses and communities research the impact that natural habitats such as oyster beds, coral reefs, tidal marshes, dunes or mangroves have on flooding and erosion. The information is intended for risk assessments and could be used by developers or municipal agencies. It was developed through a partnership of the Nature Conservancy, the Natural Capital Project, the Center for Integrated Spatial Research, the University of Southern Mississippi and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Cube Cloud

Two years in the making, this cloud-hosted traffic analytics service was launched in mid-2014 by software developer Citilabs. (Its previous applications are tied to the desktop.) The platform provides information about traffic volume and can be used to calculate and model energy consumption and pollution metrics related to various urban transportation services. Sample applications include predicting future flows based on proposed development.

Earth Right Now

The U.S. government’s mandate to “open” valuable climate and atmospheric information for use by “citizen scientists” has inspired the creation of rich online resources that can be used as the foundation for apps and services. One specific example: fresh maps on global carbon dioxide concentrations, collected by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 and released on an ongoing basis.

NASA Carbon Dioxide


In early December, Esri teamed with the U.S. Geological Survey to publish what is described as “the most detailed global ecological land units map in the world.” The platform, dubbed EcoTapestry for short, contains a wealth of ecosystem data about soil, streamflow, biodiversity and land cover. It is intended for land management applications and planning exercises.

This commerce startup created by fresh produce company Calavo Growers received $10 million in new funding during 2014 to prepare for its pending commercial launch. Its vision is to facilitate national delivery of fresh foods, through its online ordering service. Integral to its plan is the “Vessel,” its special chilled container. It will use FedEx and local carriers to facilitate deliveries.

Global Forest Watch

Developed by the World Resources Institute with partners Google and the Jane Goodall Institute, this resource (still being beta-tested) makes use of satellite imagery to provide a near real-time update of deforestation. The idea is to keep much closer tabs on clearing, so that steps can be taken much more quickly to prevent illegal activity.

Grid Waste

The idea behind this online marketplace is simple: help businesses find more efficient or sustainable trash hauling options. It considers information such as route density, recycling rates, container use and truck optimization — basically providing more transparency about various haulers through its Waste Data Project. Some of Grid Waste’s initial commercial customers include Hyatt, Lockheed Martin and the Ritz-Carlton.


Yes, other applications and websites let utilities offer home energy management and analysis services for residential customers. What makes SolarCity’s app unique are engagement features that track the location of installation and repair technicians or that monitor the production of panels once they are in place. MySolarCity also provides a map showing nearby projects, and lets customers become “ambassadors” who can earn fees for referring new accounts.


Water Risk Monetizer

This modeling tool from Ecolab and Trucost allows businesses to run assessments that consider potential exposure or negative impacts that scarcity could pose to facilities. It uses information about water consumption, as well as projected use three years into the future. Then, it assigns a grade for different locations. The idea is to help sustainability and operations managers prioritize conservation projects or management measures.

For more information visit (

Spring 2015 GIS Courses

Spatial Literacy Across the Curriculum – 2430 – ENST 311 – 05

MR 3:00-4:30pm Stern 11

Understanding how to think about problems and concepts in a spatial context is a fundamental skill that is not well taught in the current Dickinson College curriculum. Alternatively referred to as “Spatial Literacy” or “Spatial Reasoning”, this type of thinking generally focuses on understanding the importance of geographic space and the relationships formed by this space. Spatial literacy, like writing and quantitative analysis, is not a stand-alone subject, but rather it is a way of thinking that is applicable to many fields of studies, and is becoming increasingly important as a valuable competency for liberal arts students throughout all divisions. This course will examine the importance of geographic space as a learning construct and explore the value of spatial literacy for problem solving, creative expression, and communication across the humanities, social science and scientific disciplines. In doing so, students will have the opportunity to consider topics within their specific areas of study, and to discover how the application of spatial thinking can enable and facilitate the problem solving process across the curriculum. Students will be introduced to an assortment of easy-to-use mapping tools that include both quantitative and qualitative techniques, and will learn how to use these tools to investigate issues and questions from a spatial perspective, incorporate spatial analysis techniques into their problem solving methodologies, and to effectively visualize their data in ways that promote a more comprehensive understanding of the problem statement.

Attributes: Sustainability Investigations


Geographic Information Systems – 2425 – ENST 218/ ARCH 218/ ERSC 218

TR 9:00-10:15am/ R 1:30-4:30pm Kaufman 185

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a powerful technology for managing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data and geographically-referenced information. It is used in a wide variety of fields including archaeology, agriculture, business, defense and intelligence, education, government, health care, natural resource management, public safety, transportation, and utility management. This course provides a fundamental foundation of theoretical and applied skills in GIS technology that will enable students to investigate and make reasoned decisions regarding spatial issues. Utilizing GIS software applications from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), students work on a progression of tasks and assignments focused on GIS data collection, manipulation, analysis, output, and presentation. The course will culminate in a final, independent project in which the students design and prepare a GIS analysis application of their own choosing.
Three hours classroom and three hours of laboratory per week. This course is cross-listed as ENST 218 and ERSC 218. This course fulfills the QR distribution requirement.
1.000 Credit hours
4.000 Lecture hours

Course Attributes:
ARCH Area A Elective, ARCH Area B Elective, Environmental Studies Elective, Quantitative Reasoning

BairdFellows   cropped

Congratulations to GIS students, Chloe and Tabea


Advancing Sustainability

the 2014-15 baird fellows

2014-2015 Baird Fellows


Photo by Carl Socolow ’77.

2014-15 Baird Sustainability Fellows announced

Now in its third year, the Baird Sustainability Fellows program recognizes Dickinson seniors who have advanced sustainability goals through their scholarship, leadership and service efforts. Named for Spencer Fullerton Baird, a prominent 19th-century naturalist and Dickinson alumnus, the program this year brings together 12 students for collaborative projects and research to help create a sustainable world. Read about Chloe and Tabea’s missions below.

Chloe Miller, Archeology and Anthropology Major

Chloe Miller, 2015 Baird Sustainability FellowChloe Miller ’15


Chloé Miller is double majoring in archaeology and anthropology. Sustainability not only plays an important role in her academic fields, but also in her personal life. Raised in a Catholic and Native American household, she believes it is her responsibility to help return balance to the Earth for the sake of future generations. Chloé’s unique upbringing has guided her academic pursuits to understanding the dynamic, synergetic relationship between anthropogenic forces, human biology, and the natural landscape.

Her interests have taken her all over the world, from the Altiplano of Bolivia to Transylvania, Romania. While in Bolivia with Dr. Maria Bruno and Dr. Christine Hastorf, Chloé saw how past human interactions with the environment have evolved into the agricultural practices of contemporary highland farmers. She also observed how Bolivian politics, social inequalities, and the high global demand for quinoa is negatively impacting these farming groups. In Transylvania, Romania, she participated in a communal archaeology project that involved collecting information about medieval churches once forgotten by the Székely people, a long-existing Hungarian ethnic minority. Seeing this loss, which was the product of socioeconomic and political forces, first hand has inspired her to apply for a Fulbright Research Grant. She plans to return and provide support through complementary research about the historical relationship between pre- and post- Christian traditions among the Székely by using bioarchaeology and mortuary analysis.

On campus, Chloé works as a GIS intern where she helps Facilities map and analyze different aspects of the Dickinson campus and sustainability projects. She also helps the Classics Department cultivate a sense of cultural sustainability by spreading awareness of classical Greco-Roman culture as the Classics House Manager and as a Latin Club Teacher.

Chloé believes that a biocultural approach to understanding the human condition is a unique and understated aspect of sustainability, so she is excited to bring this to the colloquium. She hopes to represent a different perspective of sustainability that recognizes the need to not only understand how humans are affecting the environment but also how we our affecting ourselves.

Tabea Zimmermann, Environmental Science Major & French Minor

Tabea Zimmerman, 2015 Baird Sustainability FellowTabea Zimmerman ’15


Tabea Zimmermann is an Environmental Science major with a minor in French. In her time at Dickinson, Tabea has participated in many opportunities that have shaped her view of the natural environment and how humans use and value it. Her work at the college farm and with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) served as foundations for two different study abroad experiences. Last year, Tabea spent a science-intensive semester in Cape Cod, MA studying the biogeochemistry of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems with the Marine Biological Laboratory. In the spring, she replaced her lab coat and safety glasses with sandals and a camera as she explored the culture and society of Cameroon. Here it became apparent that sustainability is just as much a factor of a people’s history, economy, and culture and it is about the natural environment surrounding it.

At Dickinson, Tabea is studying how different lakes have responded to environmental stresses such as climate change and atmospheric deposition and which lakes will be most sensitive to future disturbances. When she’s not happily buried in science, Tabea enjoys running with the cross country team, tooting her oboe, and reconnecting with friends. She’s looking forward to collaborating with a diverse group of students and having time to reflect on her recent experiences while continuing to evolve her understanding of sustainability and what it means to be an engaged member of her local and world-wide communities.

To read more:




Interested in anything GIS? Then take the time to explore, which delivers the latest GIS industry commentary, news, product reviews, articles, events and resources from a single, convenient point. It is a portal targeting GIS and geospatial professionals that supplies complete GIS product catalog listings, technical papers, GIS news, CEO interviews, multimedia presentations, priority press releases, event postings, job placement and more. Checkout features such as the GISWeekly Review, which delivers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry in a readable newsletter format. It is a great way to explore the GIS industry and its pertinence to daily life. Enjoy! health news weekly animated ebola map/

GIS Helps Produce an Animated Map of the Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Map, 8/8/14 HealthMap

Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard’s HealthMap now includes ananimated Ebola cases/death map. The map taps official sources, but also social media.

“The news reports and social media posts aren’t always reliable, but in general they provide an up-to-date sense of what’s happening,” said John Brownstein, co-founder of HealthMap and director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Informatics Program.

Newsweek suggests the map identified the outbreak nine days before the WHO announced it.

The website, which is run by a group of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital, noted a “mystery hemorrhagic fever” spreading in Guinea nine days before the WHO issued its first statement on the outbreak.

Addressing Ebola

Another one of those companies looking to provide global unique addresses (I summarized a few effortslast year) is tapping into the interest in tracking ebola to highlight its work.

Addressing Homes LLC is an organization created by AIMTEC (Aerial Imagery Mapping Technology), a technology company that has been developing geospatial technology since 2004 for the purpose of developing a single global addressing system to serve all nations and regions, worldwide. AIMTEC is the creator of the AimObserver™ device that uses the companies Mobile Mapper technology to instantly provide a unique and accurate latitude and longitude “address” to any location on Earth, down to an area as small as 8.8 feet.

The work is with the government of Liberia. It’s not clear that WHO is involved.

Where to Avoid Drinking the Water

Reddit is the source of so many maps (for better or worse). This week a Redditer (5thEye, post w/ comments) took Center for Disease Control data on where it recommends Americans avoid drinking tap water and related products (ice, ice tea, etc.) a map. The map shows red and green areas, which should be self explanatory. I’m heading to Israel later this year; the water is fine, but there are other safety issues.

Esri offers Ebola Story Map

Esri’s interactive Ebola Outbreaks story map enables users to explore the first known contact with the disease in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and every outbreak since then, including the ongoing crises in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Basic statistics about each outbreak and reports from different agencies are all directly available within the map.

GIS Support for the MSF Ebola Response in Guinea 2014 

GIS Support for the MSF Ebola Response in Guinea 2014 (pdf) is a July case study from Doctors Without Borders. The study notes the value of having a GIS officer in country:

Both field and headquarters staff interviewed for this case study emphasized that having a dedicated GIS officer in the field was a major asset that had a significant positive impact on the operation. Universally, interviewees identified two outputs as the most useful:

  • Localization: With the help of a newly created database and subsequently produced maps, the GIS officer was able to pinpoint the exact location of villages and identify villages that had the same name but were in different parts of the prefecture. Based on this information, MSF program staff were able to respond to the outbreak faster, in a more targeted way and with fewer resources.
  • Visualization: A weekly mapping of confirmed and suspected Ebola cases helped translate the progression of the epidemic from technical data into an easy-to-grasp map. As a result, staff at all levels had a better understanding of the emergency.

Wendy’s Uses Mapping Software from CA ESRI Firm to Pick New Locations

Wendy’sIntelligently Picking New Locations

At the Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, real estate director John Crouse is swimming in data about the company’s almost 6,000 fast-food restaurants nationwide.

Crouse and one other colleague are responsible for building and analyzing maps of Wendy’s locations and the surrounding areas. They rely on a geography-based data program to quickly comb through large volumes of information — decades of sales records, demographic descriptions of nearby residents, and other data points — to predict how much a restaurant might take in annually at sites in the United States.

Once Crouse researches a potential site, he submits it to an internal committee; if the location is approved, engineering and construction can proceed.

Wendy’s is one of the latest companies to make use of software from a Redlands, Calif., company called Esri. Esri specializes in mapping various kinds of data — much of it culled from publicly available data sets — to help people visualize relationships, patterns and trends.

Especially since the economic downturn in 2008, many large corporations have been looking to such software — known as “geographic information systems” — to better direct their limited real estate budgets, according to Wayne Gearey, senior vice president for location intelligence at commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

“It’s just starting to become industry standard for [corporate] real estate decisions,” said Gearey, who uses Esri and other mapping services, such as MapInfo’s and Google’s, for his clients.

Retailers are especially concerned about moving to places with ample potential employees, he said. “Once, in retail it was, ‘Where is my customer?’ ” Gearey said. “Now it’s about business operations.”

Mapping software has saved Wendy’s about $750,000 over the past two years that the company said it would have spent on various analytical and market research services.

For instance, Esri’s maps pull Census data to shade neighborhoods based on their average income. This helps Wendy’s determine where customers and employees are likely to be.

“We look where more income is, or less income, and where areas are more concentrated with family households, rather than empty nesters,” Crouse said, though he noted that this is just one element of the decision-making process.

The Wendy’s human resources department is using mapping data to learn about wage requirements and available workers, he said.

“If you’re in a more affluent area, it’s going to be a little tougher to find” employees, Crouse said.

In any location, Wendy’s also considers which other businesses could be co-tenants — for instance, he said, “You’re not going to expect the Wendy’s to be sitting next to Macy’s or Nordstrom, necessarily.”

Even after the location is built, the company is beginning to use demographic data to adjust operations to the local customers, he said.

In relatively high-income areas, industry data suggests that affluent customers “tend to spend more per transaction, in some cases, but they may not come as often,” Crouse said.

Crouse is also beginning to use Esri to map customer complaints. “We know [where] the customers are coming from . . . you can strategize around how to work with the operator — whether it’s a company-[owned] or franchise-[owned] — to correct that problem.”

At some franchise-owned restaurants, for example, owners come up with their own hospitality tactics — such as having staff walking around the restaurants to engage customers, perhaps offering to get them water or help in some other way. While “those are things that are really hard to quantify,” linking them to consumer satisfaction could help the company share best practices with franchise owners across the United States.

Crouse also uses Esri simply to track sales at individual locations. “If our forecasting model said it was going to be a $1 million location, but in reality it is a $750,000 location . . . did the model just miss the mark, or is it an operational problem?”

In many cases, Crouse hypothesized, “You can really pinpoint that it’s the operations. It’s about working with the restaurant itself — it could be as simple as a manager change.”


Welcome Fall 2014 GIS Students

The GIS lab would like to welcome our 16 new students for Fall Semester 2014! Here are some interesting facts about our new students:

What do they study?


Major 1

Major 2






























Where are they from?

























What class are they?















Stay tune for more news about our students as they learn the trade!

Joseph Fontanella

Geospatial Center Drills Down On GIS For The Army


Joseph Fontanella, Army Geospatial Center director and Army Geospatial Information Officer.

Army Geospatial Center Director Joseph Fontanella is responsible for providing geospatial expertise across multiple customer communities and technical disciplines ranging from operations, intelligence and acquisition to research and development, and modeling and simulation. The center he oversees does this by providing topographic, geodetic and geospatial information to the Army and the larger Department of Defense. The center employs both forward-deployed and reach-back elements. As the Army’s Geospatial Information Officer, Fontanella is responsible for collecting and validating geospatial requirements, formulating policy, setting priorities and securing resources in the support of the Army Geospatial Enterprise.

C4ISRNET: What is the mission of the Army Geospatial Center [AGC]?

Fontanella: Our job is to provide timely, accurate [geospatial intelligence] products and services within the framework of functional areas that support the Army Geospatial Enterprise: warfighter support, systems acquisition and program management, enterprise development and acquisition support. We also provide support in ways the national agency can’t, and we have our own collection capability. We’re a source of geospatial expertise to the Defense Department, FBI and others. We also set standards and enforce compliance, but the overriding goal is to enhance the ability of the commander to map his or her battle space.

C4ISRNET: How close are we to a common operating environment?

Fontanella: We’re coordinating with NGA [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency] and supporting studies that optimize technology investments as they relate to common overlays, formats and ways of depicting 3-D data. We’re trying to build a ground war fighter geospatial data model. The endgame is to ensure that soldiers have the most timely and reliable information that we can bring to them, in a format that’s useful to them. If you look at how GIS [geographic information systems] technology has become more user-friendly over the years — we can take some of the credit for that because we have some ability to shape industry behavior. We’ve been pushing for open standards, and for the elimination of stovepiped systems with proprietary formats. The goal, of course, is to become platform agnostic systemwide.

C4ISRNET: Describe changes in the way geospatial data is accessed.

Fontanella: The challenge has always been how do you move bulk data into devices with limited capacity, and what we’re seeing is a shift from stand-alone applications to more open access to Web services. The goal is something that already exists on the civil side, like using an Android or an iPhone to navigate to a retail store. The data is pulled into the phone through an application that lives there, but the bulk of the data resides in the cloud. Ultimately the application and the data will have to reside on the device.

C4ISRNET: Tell us about AGC’s work in the discipline of human geography.

Fontanella: [Our] research and development is focused on human social and cultural dynamics, and how they influence what’s going to happen in a given area. In Afghanistan, we’re looking at models for predictive analysis, and in many cases the map tells a story that clarifies what’s going on in a specific area when you monitor activities in places over time. We are seeing an explosion of data. Operational graphics, map-layer data, feature data, thematic data. The challenge is standardizing on common formats and data standards.

C4ISRNET: Describe recent mapping initiatives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fontanella: The Army has discovered that in a counterinsurgency environment in built-up areas, the standard 1:50,000 map scale is inefficient for combat operations. So we went to Afghanistan and Iraq and collected high-resolution, 3-D data to produce geospatial products with an accuracy of one meter. This was at a time when NGA was working in the 30-meter range. We mapped roughly two-thirds of Afghanistan and most of the built-up areas and [main supply roads] in Iraq. High-res 3-D LIDAR [light detection and ranging] data is absolutely essential to urban operations. There’s a worldwide need for this type of data that’s not being met. If you want to build nations and bring services to people, or build any kind of representative democracy, you have to know where and how people live. It all begins with a map.

Temperature- Dependent Sex Determination (TSD) of Painted Turtles, Chrysemys picta

The project that I have been undertaking during the spring 2014 semester is based on Professor Scott Boback’s research on Painted turtle nesting at a man-made pond located in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The specific study site is located at the Hunstsdale Fish Hatchery in Huntsdale, Pennsylvania. The sex of an embryo is temperature-dependent and has a spatially relevant factor as to where nests are located. Nest sites and attempted sites are constrained between a railroad and pond, creating a highly spatially restricted data sample. The data will be geographically and temporally organized and then displayed in relation to temperature readings from a recording device (ibuttons, Embedded Data Systems). There was a set of sixteen active nest sites, which could be correlated to ibutton data based on date and time. Furthermore, an Inverse Weighting Distribution was used within a minimum-bounding rectangle to better interpret the variation in temperature spatially and temporally.

Within my poster, I have displayed the use of Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) for individual dates to model temperature fluctuations, spatially, within the study site. The July dates were chosen based on any extreme temperature fluctuations during the month of July 2011 that corresponded with extreme displays of temperature depicted by the model among the study site nests. This research is important at a greater scale as this species, along with other temperature-dependent sex determinate species, are very sensitive to overall global temperature changes. If temperature were to rise even by a few degrees, that shift in climate could produce all female offspring clutches and the eventual extinction of the species.

Dickinson Running Routes with Difficulty – Anne Dyroff

The Dickinson College cross-country team has created a large number of running routes in the Carlisle area. Each running route is communicated to new members of the team via word-of-mouth. The problems addressed with this project are the difficulty in learning all of the available running routes through Carlisle, and the lack of knowledge about each route. In order to make the created running routes more accessible, a detailed map of each route has been created. Each map has been rendered to display the difficulty of each section of the route. The difficulty rating is based upon slope gradient and hill length. A hard copy of each map is available in addition to the online accessibility of each map.POSTER2


3-D Map of Vatnsskarð Pillow Ridge Quarry, Iceland

A quarry at Vatnsskarð, which is part of the Krisuvik fissure system in southwestern Iceland, provides exceptional exposures of the stratigraphy and insights into the formation processes of a glaciovolcanic, pillow-dominated tindar. The active part of the quarry is ~0.5 km wide and 0.7 km long, while the overall width of the ridge at this location is ~1.2 km. This project aimed to examine the stratigraphic relationships at the quarry by creating a 3-D map of the quarry using GPS data points and high-resolution photographs collected in the field. Mapping these types of quarry features is useful in that we can learn something about sub-glacial pillow ridge formations. Having a greater knowledge of how these volcanic features are formed can be beneficial to communities that live around areas where there is volcanic activity under glaciers. The creation of an entire ridge from one single event would create significant ice melting and consequently extensive flooding; however, if these ridges are formed from a series of events, then there would likely be less danger to the surrounding communities.

The original objective of the project was drape a GigaPan image of the quarry over the bare map to render a realistic image of the site, thereby facilitating a more detailed and accurate interpretation of the site. Using the GPS point cloud data, a 3-D map of the quarry was created. The GigaPan image; however, was not draped over the 3-D because of difficulties in accomplishing this task in ArcScene program. We also attempted to geo-rectify the GigaPan image, but this also was not successful due to an inability to identify accurate control points in both the image and map. The results of this project would suggest more detailed field mapping must be accomplished in order to super-impose high-resolution imagery over a 3-D map using the ArcGIS toolsets.3-D Map of Vatnsskarð Pillow Ridge Quarry, Iceland

How Diverse are our Trees? An Analysis of the Trees on Dickinson College’s Campus

Urban forests, much like those of college campuses can be unbalanced in species diversity, and richness, which can lead to devastation. By determining these factors and applying a standard guide, the health of the forest is able to be established, and in doing so creating a better way to manage the trees. The standard guide used is the 10-20-30 rule, which says that no more than 10% of the trees should be of the same species, no more than 20% of the trees should be from the same genus, and no more than 30% should be from the same family. The 10-20-30 rule is often used as a standard to determine if the species diversity is acceptable, inadequate, or a possible cause for concern in the urban forest. Dickinson College currently has no reference to the standard of its urban forest. There is also concern of using non-native trees in the urban forest, and if that has a negative impact on the overall forest. The project was started in the spring of 2010 by Mark Scott and Jim Ciarrocca to document all of the trees on campus, so that Dickinson could become an arboretum. This project explores species diversity in eight different sections of campus, the overall richness of the campus trees, the location of the non-native trees, as well as designating location of water accumulation on the campus. Since the start of this project 814 trees have been tagged, and there are 132 unique tree species. Overall the species diversity of the campus is acceptable. There are no trees with greater than 6% of the same species, three are no trees with greater than 18% of the same genus, and there are no trees with greater than 18% of the same family, thus Dickinson’s campus is all within the 10-20-30 rule, and has acceptable species diversity.

This project specifically looked at ways to assist Mr. Scott in managing Dickinson College’s trees. The richness and species diversity were determined using the Marine Geospatial Ecology Toolset, created at Duke University.  Using 3-meter elevation data from USGS, areas of depression were identified, where water would collect on Dickinson’s campus. This was done by filling in the depression using the fill tool, using the raster calculator the original elevation data was subtracted from the filled elevation data, this then gave the depression areas. This information will be used to assist Mr. Scott in making management decisions.


An Analysis of the Trees on Dickinson College's Campus

An Analysis of the Trees on Dickinson College’s Campus


The spatial distribution of weathering on Basse-Terre Island, Guadeloupe


The aim of this study is to investigate the spatial relationship between chemical weathering on Basse-Terre and two spatially varying factors; precipitation and bedrock age. Basse-Terre, the large western island of Guadeloupe archipelago, and is part of the Lesser Antilles volcanic arc in the eastern Caribbean. The island is comprised entirely of andesite bedrock that decreases in age to the south. Six swath topographic profiles were computed using the Matlab script DEM2swath (Gallen, 2013). One swath is oriented North-South, along the drainage divide of the island, and displays an increase in elevation along the crest of the volcanic massif toward more recent volcanic centers in the south. Five West-East oriented topographic profiles highlight the asymmetry of Basse-Terre. Plotting the distribution of K/Ar-dated lava flows as a function of distance along the North-South topographic swath profile reveals that bedrock age decreases at a rate of 0.07 ka/km to the south with an R2  value of 0.89.

Upstream basin area was computed for the 27 sample sites investigated in Gaillardet et al. (2011). Precipitation for the island was interpolated from two sources: six weather stations on the island (Metro France), and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite data. Mean basin-wide precipitation was calculated using both measures. Analysis indicates that the precipitation regime and runoff are asymmetrical. The western side of the island receives less precipitation on average than the east. The cross-island asymmetry observed in the five cross-island swath profiles is attributed to spatial variability in precipitation.

Mean precipitation, chemical weathering and mean stream steepness of each of the basins studied here and by Gaillardet et al (2011) were mapped. These variables were also plotted relative to distance along the North-South swath profile. Mean basin-wide annual precipitation for each of the basins increases to the south and at a given latitude is greater in basins draining the eastern side of the island. Mean chemical weathering rate (Gallardet et al., 2011) is higher in the eastern basins, suggesting a positive correlation between chemical weathering rate and precipitation. Mean chemical weathering and stream steepness both increase southward.  The asymmetric precipitation patterns result in increases in both runoff and chemical weathering in the east. These results indicate that the relief of Basse-Terre is exerting a first order control on precipitation and runoff, and thus the amount of chemical and physical weathering.


References Cited:

GIS_Map_48_36Jerome Gaillardet et al. 2011. Orography-driven chemical denudation in the Lesser Antilles; evidence for a new feed-back mechanism stabilizing atmospheric CO2. American Journal of Science 311(10):851-89r.

Gallen, Sean, 2014. DEM2Swath script. Matlab Tools and Scripts.

Deady Poster

Unmapped Trails in Michaux State Forest

Michaux State Forest provides countless trails for a wide range of outdoor activities. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has worked hard to maintain these trails and provide sufficient information about them so that they are easily accessible and remain safe for public use. Although there are already extensive trails for use, many adventure-seekers have taken it upon themselves to create new trails, causing problems not only for the DCNR, but also for the surrounding environment. With the help of the DCNR, I determined a study area of 2,292 acres within the forest and went into the field to do data collection and find the extent of trails within the given area. While carrying both a recreational and mapping grade GPS, I followed first the known trails within the sector and then cut off and continued down any unmapped trails that I encountered. With the application of an “Analysis Area” of 1,090.45 acres around the 5.33 miles of unmapped trails that I mapped within my study area, I used a predictive model and determined that one could expect to find approximately 417.91 miles of unmapped, and potentially unauthorized trails in this forest of 85,500 acres. The impact of these trails on the landscape could be seen in just the small area that I covered. From here, the DCNR can use the data gathered to make steps towards determining what is unauthorized and how to prevent the further mismanagement of the land by the public. Deady_Poster

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