Geographic Information Systems and Natural Resources

Catalog Description:
Introduces students to methods of analysis of contemporary environmental issues that rely on use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for assessment, understanding, and solutions. GIS uses a variety of types of digital data, including remote sensing imagery, to generate computer maps of topography, land use, vegetation cover, soil type, and resources for areas as small as Baker Campus to those as large as the Amazon Basin. Same as ENV 250.

Major Topics:
Basic principles of map making and map reading - Cartography
Mapping in the environment - Global Positioning Systems and other techniques
Computerized mapping, modeling & analysis - Geographic Information Science
Observing the environment - Remote Sensing and Image Processing

Goals of the course:
This course is an introduction to the relatively new field of geographic information systems. GIS has applications in any field that needs geospatial analysis including environmental science and policy, business, ethics, defence, national security, politics and more. While this course is geared towards environmental applications, other applications will be addressed whenever possible. Map making (cartography) is a fundamental component of GIS and will be a significant component of this course.

Goal 1: Learn the principles of cartography.
Data collected using remote sensing is a important source of information for GIS, especially for environmental applications. A significant part of this course will focus on remote sensing including remote sensing basics, remote sensing sensors, and remote sensing applications.

Goal 2: Become familiar with field data collection techniques especially using GPS.
Lots of spatial data without an effective tool to integrate, manage, manipulate, and model the information is relatively useless. GIS has been developed into a highly sophisticated, powerful, computerized tool to effectively deal with geospatial data and analysis. GIS is now a standard tool used in all aspects of environmental analysis and every person involved in this field need to have some understanding and familarity with the power (and limitations) this technology.

Goal 3: Become familiar with the new technology of GIS. Be able to decide when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to use this technology.
A wide variety of GIS applications are available. Unfortunately in order to use this powerful new technology the user is required to become familiar with specific software applications. Ideally everyone should be familiar with all these applications but practically this is impossible. In this course will use a limited number of software applications. This course will provide an introduction to the software but is not geared towards making you an expert ‘user' of a particular application (such as ArcGIS-ArcView).

Goal 4: Become familiar with specific software applications relevant to GIS.
Effective use of GIS requires that you continue to develop your communication skills. Writing (reports, papers etc), graphical formats (diagrams, maps, posters etc), and oral presentations (powerpoints) are all equally important ways to communicate your findings. You will be required to use all these techniques in this course.

Goal 5: Become familiar with remote sensing and how it relates to GIS.
Field mapping and data collection is another critical source of information for environmental GIS. A wide variety of mapping techniques will be discussed but the main focus will be on field data collection using the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Goal 6: Improve your writing and presentation skills.
Most fields demand that you become ‘life-long' learners in order to remain competitive. This idea couldn't be more true for the field of GIS. This is a rapidly evolving, expanding field. In some ways it is becoming easier to use, in other ways it is becoming more complex as the capabilities of the technology grow. Expectations are rising. This is an area in which the technology divide between those who know and those who don't is vaste. As an environmental scholar it is greatly to your advantage to become familiar with this technology. This course is the beginning of this endeavour, hopefully it will provide you with the tools and motivation to continue your exploration of the field.

Goal 7: Provide the tools and motivation to continue your exploration of GIS in the future.
Knowledge is power. Knowing about GIS is like knowing another language, or knowing how to hang-glide, or knowing how to fix something - it enriches your life and it gives you an edge!

Spring 2010 Final Projects:

1) Franklin Dekker: Impervious surfaces on F&M campus

2) Patrick Maloney: Yellowstone National Park - magma chamber

3) Shane Gray: Landslides on Hawaii

4) Claire Meyers: Landuse change in CT

5) Brad Boileau: Independent project maps - local farms

6) Amy Jordan: Beach Erosion - Avalon, NJ

7) Stef Strebel: Millport Conservancy

8) Brandon Morrison: Impaired streams in Lancaster, PA

9) Tyler Kerr: Laurentide ice sheet

10) Scott Rownd: Baker farm

11) Nic Auwaerter: F&M Campus

12) Jen Everhart: Canadian Rockies - Ecology

13) Lily Diehl: Lancaster County Conservancy and preserved land

14) Mary Liang: Urban Sprawl - Lancaster

15) Katie Datin: Dillerville Swamp

16) Eamon Hall: Farm preservation

17) Joe Galella: YNP - earthquakes

18) Brittany Goodman: Census data - Lancaster

19) Sara Edrich: Hurricane Katrina

20) Yupu Zhao: Big Spring

21) Steven Becker: Baker Woodlands


Spring 2008 Final Projects:

1) Justin Herbert

2) Andi Shilling

3) Corinne McCarthy

4) Will Bennett

5) Matt Jenschke

6) Martha Sassorossi

7) Kyle Trostle

8) Erin Bradley

9) Kevin Toeneboehn

10) Matt Kalos

11) Mark Hild

12) Doug Smith

13) Andrew Dinkelacker

14) Mark Voli

15) Chris Fullinwider

16) Monica Arienzo

17) Bob Bell

18) Elizabeth Cranmer

19) Julie Weitzman