Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.



Hurricane Matthew-Humanitarian Mapping

“The Humanitarian OpenSteetMap Team (HOT) has activated to provide geographic base data in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew continues to strengthen and is advancing on Haiti and the Bahamas. Hurricane Matthew is expected to cause ‘catastrophic‘ damage including extreme flooding and landslides potentially affecting millions in Haiti, Jamaica, and Bahamas. To start we are mapping coastal communities in the storm path.”


Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action?  Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency.  Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets.  My students and I are working on this over the weekend; can you join in and help?  The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now.  Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).


Tags: disasters, mappingSTEM, physicalHaiti, weather and climate.

Why Hurricane Categories Make a Difference

During a hurricane you usually hear meteorologists refer to its intensity by categories. If you don’t know the difference between a category 1 and a category 5 hurricane, The Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Elliot breaks it down for you.


With Hurricane Matthew having just hit Haiti (video) and Cuba, it now poised to strike Florida. Many are unsure what the term “category 4” actually means because they are unfamiliar with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  This video is a good introduction to what this means to people in the path of the hurricane. As we monitor this (and future) situation, these are my favorite digital globes that display wind speeds and a few other of Earth’s physical systems. What is beautiful and majestic from one scale can be horrific and catastrophic at another:    


Tagsphysical, weather and climatedisasters, mapping, visualization.

Bangladesh’s Hazardous Geography

Bangladesh is exposed to threat of hazards resulting from a number of natural disasters and remains classified as one the most vulnerable countries. Majority of the country is affected by cyclone, drought and floods.


Bangladesh is regularly hit with different types of natural disasters. The impact of these natural disasters costs the country millions making it dependent on foreign aid.  Disaster clean-up and relief aid after major floods, droughts, and hurricanes.  


Tagsdisasters, environmentBangladeshSouth Asia, development.

Louisiana in Tough Shape

Unlike the many maps we have seen that show what Florida, Boston, or some other coastal location would look like with higher sea levels, the figure above compares the iconic outline of Louisiana with the present-day outline of its dry land. An important caveat is that some of the removed areas are wetlands, meaning they are not under water all the time, but those lands are not available for most human uses (aside from fishing), so this outline warrants attention.


Last month I was in New Orleans, Louisiana and I’m so disheartened to know that thousands have their homes under water.  As stated in this article, “the boot is at best an inaccurate approximation of Louisiana’s true shape and, at worst, an irresponsible lie.”  To explore the issue yourself, this gorgeous interactive map pulls together some high quality source materials on a wide range of issues to look at this environmental issues of this region in a holistic manner.


Tags: environmentweather and climatecoastal, water, disasters

How over 2 feet of rain caused historic flooding in Louisiana in less than 72 hours

All-told, over 20 inches of rain fell in less than 72 hours around Baton Rouge.


Last month I was in New Orleans, and it rained for about 2 hours…it was staggering to see how many issues stemmed from that drainage in such a flat floodplain.  This is so much worse.  This article focuses on the weather/environmental situation, and this one on the political/human impact.


Tags: urban ecology, environmentweather and climate, water, disasters

Haiti: From Recovery to Sustainable Development


“Since the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has successfully pulled through the humanitarian recovery phase and seen significant socioeconomic gains. Yet as Haiti moves toward long-term, sustainable development, the country faces significant challenges. The political system remains fragile, sustainable jobs are scarce, and the environment is still as vulnerable now as it was then.”


While this is primarily a promotional campaign for the UNDP’s efforts in Haiti, it nicely contextualizes the problems that Haiti faces before discussing how to improve the situation.  Some keys for the future include: 

  • Governance and Rule of Law
  • Recovery and Poverty Reduction
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Environmental Management
  • Medical Outbreak Management  


Tagsdisasters, Haiti, NGOspoverty, development, video.

Volcanic ash covers Costa Rica towns

A volcano erupts in central Costa Rica, belching smoke and ash up to 3,000m (9,840ft) into the air and choking nearby communities.


Tags: Costa Rica, disasters, physical, volcano.


Mount St. Helens: Volcanic Eruption and Recovery

The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption was one of the most significant natural disasters in the U.S. in the past half-century. Landsat captured the extent of, and recovery from, the destruction.

The accompanying satellite images (also compiled in a video to show the temporal changes) demonstrate one way that remote sensing images can help us better understand the spatial patterns in the biosphere.

See on Scoop.itGeography Education   See on

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