Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.



How Geospatial Analytics Are Changing Habitat Conservation

“The BirdReturns program is an effort to provide ‘pop-up habitats’ for some of the millions of shorebirds, such as sandpipers and plovers that migrate along the Pacific Flyway, a route that spans from Alaska to South America. Birds flying on this journey seek out the increasingly rare wetlands teeming with tasty insects to fuel their long-distance flights.  Over the last century, California’s Central Valley has lost 95% of the wetlands habitat to development, agriculture, and other land use changes. As a solution, scientists use big data, binoculars, and rice paddies.”


This project combines data from satellite imagery to map surface water in California’s Central Valley, and individual bird observations to select locations that can be temporarily converted into wetlands to aid the migratory birds (for more information than the video provides about this project, read this article). 


This is a great example of using both ‘big’ geospatial data as represented by the satellite imagery and combining it with field data and actual observations to make the world a better place.  We need more decision makers that can think spatially and use geographic skills.  


Tags: physicalCalifornia, water, environmentbiogeography, remote sensing.

This 19th Century Map Could Have Transformed the West

Today’s drought-riven west would look very different if Congress had listened to John Wesley Powell


Author of Mapping the Nation, Susan Schulten explains how western expansion failed to recognize the basic physical geographic reality of the United States–that the west is much drier than the east.  Given that much of the west, especially California, is in the midst of a severe drought, this article serves as a reminder to recognize that localized understandings of human and environmental actions are necessary.  Do you know what watershed you live in?  How does and should that impact us?   

Tags: physical, historical, California, water, environment.

America’s recent drought history, animated

“California’s drought just hit a new milestone: As of this week, 32.98 percent of the state is experiencing “exceptional” drought, making it the worst drought in the 14 years that the Department of Agriculture’s Drought Monitor has tracked data.”


The recent drought in California has only deepened and this Washington Post article shows an animated map that highlights the temporal and spatial patterns in the drought data (hint–it’s not pretty).  In a related note, May 2014 was the hottest May in recorded history.     

Questions to Consider: What are some reasons (both from human and physical geography) for this severe drought? What can be done in the short-term to lessen the problem? What can be done to make California’s water situation better for the next 50 years?

Tags: physical, weather and climate, consumptionCalifornia, water, environment, resources, environment dependurban ecology.

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