ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Geography, Nature & Weather

Improving our Understanding of the Environment by Analyzing Geospatial Data

Updated on May 10, 2013
Source

In the past few decades, the use of GIS technology has slowly started to change the way we think about spatial data. With the current software applications it’s very easy to visualize, manipulate, and analyze the vast amounts of data that businesses and governmental agencies collect. We can easily discover relationships and patterns about different data sets that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. GIS technology has taken the typical database residing in a mainframe computer and turned it into something that is more useful today than it ever was before. This is precisely what GIS technology is. It is a tool that can be used to improve our understanding of the world and how its various earth systems interact with the increasingly anthropogenic world using data that already exists.

Understanding Impacts to Endangered Species

Biologists around the country have spent years studying migratory patterns and habitats of many animals. With this large amount of data, GIS analysts can plot the migration paths and critical habitats on maps for everyone to see. Overlaying these maps with land ownership maps, transportation corridors, and floodplains allows users to determine areas and species that could be impacted in the future. Government agencies can use this data to help plan for future developments that will minimize their impact to endangered species. Ultimately, when this data is stored and visualized in a GIS environment our leaders can make the most informed decisions that they possibly can with regards to impacts on endangered species. This will lead to a better world for all of Earth's inhabitants.

Modeling the Potential Impacts of An Oil Spill

When planning for a environmental disaster, such as an oil spill, GIS tools can help make predictions about the extents and severity of these disasters. GIS based oil spill models that simulate tidal patterns and ocean currents can help identify parts of the coast that are at a higher risk for a catastrophe. Analysts, government leaders, and oil prospectors can all use this information to help make more environmentally friendly decisions when it comes to locating, transporting, and finding crude oil.

Source

Mapping Groundwater Supply and Potential Contamination

Did you know that approximately 15% of American's use a private well to obtain their drinking water? What's more is that many municipal water suppliers are also utilize wells to turn groundwater into dinking water. In fact, groundwater resources have become an integral part of America's water infrastructure. So much so that the impacts of even a small amount of contamination can have a catastrophic effect on the general population.

This is where GIS tools and geospatial data can come in handy to help manage our groundwater supplies. By mapping the locations and depths of water wells and overlaying it with the locations of industrial sites, abandoned mines, and locations where polluted stormwater can enter the aquifer, analysts can calculate and predict the relative contamination risk facing our groundwater resources. Additionally, population data can be combined with the geospatial well information to analyze and compare the demand for water versus the available supply.

Monitoring the World's Rainforests

One of the biggest environmental problems facing the world today is rapid deforestation. In fact, I once read that the world's forests are disappearing at a rate of more than 1 acre every second. With this alarming rate of deforestation, it's easy to see the kind of problems that it can cause. With GIS, the forests can be monitored through a combination of measurements made on aerial photography, LIDAR digital terrain models, and continually updated urbanization data. Country's with large forests at risk can utilize a GIS based deforestation analysis to help better manage this finite resource. For instance, government leaders can use this data to set policies for replanting efforts, zoning, and even future urban planning. Without GIS, these kinds of problems would be a significant challenge overcome as definitive solutions would be harder to come by.

Final Thoughts

We have only just scratched the surface of the potential ways that geospatial data can be used to improve our understanding of the environment. With the use of high powered computers, vast databases of information, and an intuitive set of GIS software applications, humanity is learning how to move towards being closer to nature again.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)