21
Feb 17

Coffee Hour with Charles Twardy | Summer internships | Health benefits of parks

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

A 360-degree VR image of the renovated GeoVISTA center in Walker Building. Place your cursor over the image, hold down the mouse button, and move around to see the perspective change.

GOOD NEWS

NEWS

Coffee Hour with Charles Twardy: Data Science for Search and Rescue
Lost-person search is a mystery with a deadline. After 24 hours lost in the wilderness, your survivability drops by 20%. Searches happen one at a time, but nationally they consume thousands of hours and millions of dollars per year. Most of the expense is borne by ~5% the searches. These massive, extended searches would benefit from proper application of Bayesian search theory, developed in WW2 and used successfully by the Navy and Coast Guard for the past 70 years. I will discuss the unique challenges in wilderness search, and the progress made since 2000 due to the worldwide collection of lost-person data. I’ll discuss spatial probability maps for lost-person behavior, survival curves lost persons, and empirical and theoretical detection profiles, and the prospects for Bayesian search management.

  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to go webcast
  • Next time: March 17 with Roger Downs

Measuring and improving the impact of parks on health
Geographer Brian King  is a member of the working group
A team of Penn State researchers is helping the National Park Service measure and improve its impact on people’s health. According to Derrick Taff, assistant professor of recreation, park, and tourism management (RPTM) in the College of Health and Human Development, although many people think parks provide health benefits, there is very little empirical evidence to support that notion.

Summer Internships Announced
• Capital Resource Conservation and Development Area Council
(Capital RC&D), a regional non-profit organization seeks three or more GPS assistants to accompany county survey teams and enter and manage data for the 2017 Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Roadside Crop Residue/Cover Crop Transect Survey. More information PDF

• The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is the official Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the ten-county region including the City of Pittsburgh and the counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland. SPC is seeking interns (May-August) for various transportation planning projects including traffic counting, transport modeling, traffic operations studies, freight planning, safety studies, pedestrian and bicycle planning, data collection and related activities. The work environment will vary for different projects. Most positions will include both indoor and outdoor assignments. More information PDF

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Microclimate and Local Climate
By Andrew M. Carleton
In Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research: February 2017, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 187-188.
Access: http://www.aaarjournal.org/doi/full/10.1657/AAAR0049-1-book1
Microclimate and Local Climate represents a unique approach to the study of climate at its most fundamental level: it considers the physical processes of radiation and energy, moisture, and momentum exchanges at and near Earth’s surface to be common to—and to interact across—both the microscale (“centimeters to meters”) and the local, or topographic, scale (from ∼10 m to 1 km). The spatial-scale context is fundamentally geographic, as befits the academic heritage of the authors, and Earth’s physical and living environments are treated as a closely coupled system throughout the book. The subject matter draws upon concepts not just from physical geography and climatology, but also from a wide range of cognate disciplines: meteorology, biology and ecology, hydrology, environmental physics, biogeochemistry, soil science, and statistics. Moreover, this book has direct application and relevance to those same disciplines and to others, such as agriculture, forestry, landscape architecture and urban design, environmental history, and, I would argue, even the history and philosophy of science. The authors synthesize a large number of published studies, both recent and historical (i.e., pre-2000!), to comprehensively provide detail on the physical processes of micro- and local-scale climates, the associated spatial patterns, the implications for humans, and recent and anticipated future changes.


14
Feb 17

Coffee Hour with Alfred Kalyanapu | WPSU’s women in science | Dowler elected AAG councilor

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Larsen Ice Shelf

The Larsen Ice Shelf is situated along the northeastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest-warming places on the planet. In the past three decades, two large sections of the ice shelf (Larsen A and B) have collapsed. A third section (Larsen C) seems like it may be on a similar trajectory, with a new iceberg poised to break away soon. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

GOOD NEWS

  • Lorraine Dowler was elected as a national councilor for the American Association of Geographers.

NEWS

Coffee Hour with Alfred Kalyanapu: Flood Modeling in the 21st Century: Dealing with Challenges and Making Advances
On average 196 million people in more than 90 countries are exposed to flooding each year, while in the United States (US) by 2005, flood damages increased to USD 6 billion per year, causing managing these risks crucial for future growth. Addressing this flood risk needs modeling and simulating rainfall-runoff processes and floods, but it is a challenging task due to many sources of uncertainties. Computer models have been used to simulate floods for more than four decades, typically modeled in a one-dimensional (1D) fashion due to computational restrictions and ease of use for most modeling applications. However, 1D approach has significant limitations for simulating floods especially in urban areas.

  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour to go webcast 
  • Next time: February 24 with Charles Twardy

Local women in STEM-related professions to be highlighted in new WPSU web series
Carolina Pulido, a quality engineer, tests her company’s software in five different languages. Erica Smithwick, a geography professor, has traveled around the world conducting research on the environment.

The two are among the five women featured in a new video series through WPSU Penn State that promotes local women working in science, technology, engineering and math professions.

WPSU Penn State’s “Women in Science Profiles”  aims to inspire young women to enter STEM-related fields while dispelling misconceptions about STEM professionals and their lives.

Scholar’s Program offers discussion opportunities for Black History Month

The Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Development in Africa (AESEDA) and the Department of African American Studies at Penn State are sponsoring the Black History Month PSU Scholar’s Program.

Four panel discussions, highlighting scholarship by Penn State faculty members of African descent, will take place from Feb. 16 to 22 in Foster Auditorium of Pattee Library on the University Park campus.

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Fire Disturbance, Forest Structure, and Stand Dynamics in Montane Forests of the Southern Cascades, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, California, USA
By Bekker Matthew F. , Taylor Alan H.
In Écoscience 2010 v.17 no.1 pp. 59-72pp. 14
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.2980%2F17-1-3247
We examined tree diameter, age structure, and successional trends in 100 montane forest plots to identify the effects of variation in the return interval, severity, and extent of fires on forest structure and dynamics in the southern Cascade Range, California. We classified 100 forest plots into 8 groups based on stand structural characteristics. Median point fire return intervals were shortest in lower montane mixed conifer and Jeffrey pine——white fir stands (13––25 y) and upper montane red fir——white fir stands (14.5––19.5 y), intermediate in lodgepole pine stands (50––76.5 y), and longest in high-elevation red fir——mountain hemlock stands (100 y). Fire severity was mainly moderate to high in all forest structural groups except red fir——mountain hemlock. In the late 19th century, large, mostly high-severity fires burned through all forests. Fire extent varied among structural groups, burning from 13% to 85% of plots in a group on average. Stands differed in composition, but size and age structures were similar across structural groups, with few trees > 100 y old and peaks of establishment between 1895 and 1955 for all groups except red fir——mountain hemlock. Distinct pulses of tree recruitment followed the most recent (1883, 1885, 1889, 1918) large and mainly high-severity fires. Suppression of fire since 1905 has increased understory density of shade-tolerant, fire-intolerant species and caused forest compositional shifts, particularly in lower-elevation Jeffrey pine——white fir and mixed conifer stands, and lodgepole pine stands on well-drained sites. Structural or compositional change is less pronounced in upper montane red fir——white fir and red fir——mountain hemlock forests. The combination of gently sloping terrain with few fire breaks, extensive, moderate- to high-severity fires in all forest types and gradient positions and fire suppression has promoted homogenization of forest structure that may lead to large and severe fires in the future.

A search for food sovereignty: Seeding post-conflict landscapes.
By Zimmerer, Karl
In ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America 26 (2): 32-34
Displaced persons in post-confict Societies throughout Central and South America have been finding an unusual source of  support: seed networks of food-growers who seek to strengthen agricultural projects and urban gardens.  These seed networks have operated successfully to strengthen independent food production, known as food sovereignty, in other parts of the world. For example, the 15th Garden, a Syrian-European network, supports the seed networks to provide food in war-torn Syria. The seeds can be regrown in the future, both amid the current conflict and eventually in the post-conflict phase. Food-growers then can continue to obtain the needed seeds through their own cultivation as well as personal exchanges and local markets. Displaced Syrians are also active in the 15th Garden seed networks. Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia offer other well-known examples where vigorous networks have been integral to the seeding of post-conflict landscapes.

 


07
Feb 17

Coffee Hour with Jenni Evans | Income and risk inequalities | MGIS alumni focus

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Miscanthus, a grass native to subtropical and tropical areas of Africa and southern Asia, growing in the Power Plant garden at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. USDA

PAC Herbarium is offering a workshop on February 9 on “Grasses, Sedges and Rushes, Oh My!” 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in 13 Whitmore Lab. This photograph shows Miscanthus, a grass native to subtropical and tropical areas of Africa and southern Asia, growing in the Power Plant garden at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.this summer. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

GOOD NEWS

  • Kim Thomas has accepted our offer of the assistant professor position in Environment and Society.
  • Guido Cervone won $9000 for his proposal to University of Split – Penn State Collaboration Development Fund. And he is coauthor of an article, “Analysing the influence of African dust storms on the prevalence of coral disease in the Caribbean Sea using remote sensing and association rule data mining,” published last month in the International Journal of Remote Sensing.
  • Melissa Wright and Yitian Zhai are the editors of, “Difference: Sexual, Cultural and Universal,” issue 19 of theory@buffalo interdisciplinary journal.

NEWS

Coffee Hour with Jenni Evans: Getting to know the Institute for CyberScience (ICS) and Exploring Cyber-Hurricanes
The Institute for CyberScience is one of Penn State’s five pan-university, interdisciplinary institutes. ICS was formed in 2012 and is currently going through an increasingly rapid evolution. A brief overview of current and emerging ICS initiatives will be presented before turning to research that utilizes the ICS cyberinfrastructure: an examination of the physics of tropical cyclones, in particular to improve understanding of their development and 5-10 day forecasts of these systems.

Grad student examines links between housing, income and hazard risk
An aerial view of some communities can reveal stark income inequalities: Boundaries at the edges of hills, valleys, streets or other features separate high-income from low-income neighborhoods. In some places in the U.S., like Houston, Texas, those same boundaries mark a drastic difference in risk for natural disasters, like flooding.

“Low-income people in the Houston-Galveston region are being concentrated in areas that are most susceptible to impacts from natural disasters,” says Travis Young, a doctoral student in geography at Penn State.

Penn State Online Geospatial Education Alumni Focus: Meredith Moore
Ever wonder how people are applying the skills they learn through the GIS Certificate or MGIS program, and how these programs are affecting careers? Alumni Focus will highlight stories so you can learn more about the applications of these degrees, and GIS careers in general.

Our first Alumni Focus is with Meredith Moore, who earned her MGIS with Penn State this past fall. Congratulations to Meredith! Here is her story of how her “investment in our program has paid off” (her words).

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Mountain Ecology, Remoteness, and the Rise of Agrobiodiversity: Tracing the Geographic Spaces of Human–Environment Knowledge
By Karl S. Zimmerer, Hildegardo Córdova-Aguilar, Rafael Mata Olmo, Yolanda Jiménez Olivencia & Steven J. Vanek
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Volume 107, 2017 – Issue 2: Mountains
Access: DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1235482
We use an original geographic framework and insights from science, technology, and society studies and the geohumanities to investigate the development of global environmental knowledge in tropical mountains. Our analysis demonstrates the significant relationship between current agrobiodiversity and the elevation of mountain agroecosystems across multiple countries. We use the results of this general statistical model to support our focus on mountain agrobiodiversity. Regimes of the agrobiodiversity knowledge of scientists, government officials, travelers, and indigenous peoples, among others, interacting in mountain landscapes have varied significantly in denoting geographic remoteness. Knowledge representing pre-European mountain geography and diverse food plants in the tropical Andes highlighted their centrality to the Inca Empire (circa 1400–1532). The notion of semiremoteness, geographic valley–upland differentiation, and the similitude-and-difference knowledge mode characterized early Spanish imperial rule (1532–1770). Early modern accounts (1770–1900) amplified the remoteness of the Andes as they advanced global ecological sciences, knowledge standardization, and racial representations of indigenous people as degraded, with scant attention to Andean agriculture and food.

Agro-environmental Transitions in African Mountains: Shifting Socio-spatial Practices Amid State-Led Commercialization in Rwanda
By Nathan Clay
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Volume 107, 2017 – Issue 2: Mountains
Access: DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1254019
Agricultural commercialization has been slow to take hold in mountain regions throughout the world. It has been particularly limited by challenges of mechanization, transportation access, and governance. Efforts at green-revolution style development have met with persistent failures in highland sub-Saharan Africa, where agricultural systems are often finely tuned to complex and dynamic social–ecological contexts. In Rwanda, a mountainous country in east central Africa, development efforts have long aimed to transition away from largely subsistence-based production that relies on high labor input toward commercial farming systems that are rooted in capital investment for marketable goods. Since 2005, Rwanda’s land policy has become increasingly ambitious, aiming to reduce the 85 percent of households involved in agriculture to 50 percent by the year 2020. The country’s Crop Intensification Program (CIP) compels farmers to consolidate land and cultivate government-selected crops. Although state assessments have touted the productivity gains created through the CIP, others speculate that households could be losing access to crucial resources. Research from both sides, however, has focused squarely on the CIP’s immediate successes and failures without considering how households are responding to the program within the context of the complex and variable mountain environment.

Validating Safecast data by comparisons to a U. S. Department of Energy Fukushima Prefecture aerial survey
By Mark Coletti, Carolynne Hultquist, William G. Kennedy, Guido Cervone
In Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volume 171, May 2017
Access: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2017.01.005.
Safecast is a volunteered geographic information (VGI) project where the lay public uses hand-held sensors to collect radiation measurements that are then made freely available under the Creative Commons CC0 license. However, Safecast data fidelity is uncertain given the sensor kits are hand assembled with various levels of technical proficiency, and the sensors may not be properly deployed. Our objective was to validate Safecast data by comparing Safecast data with authoritative data collected by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U. S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) gathered in the Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the Daiichi nuclear power plant catastrophe. We found that the two data sets were highly correlated, though the DOE/NNSA observations were generally higher than the Safecast measurements. We concluded that this high correlation alone makes Safecast a viable data source for detecting and monitoring radiation. Keywords: Safecast; Volunteered geographic information; Fukushima Daiichi; Data validation


31
Jan 17

Coffee Hour with Johnathan Rush | Geospatial Data Portal | New Hamer gift

IMAGE OF THE WEEK
snowy day on campus looking across Atherton Street

Snowy day on campus: a view from Walker Building looking toward west campus across Atherton Street. The building in the center of the image is the Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel.

GOOD NEWS

  • Melissa Wright is receiving the American Association of Geographers Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism in Research and Practice.
  • Alumna Vanessa Massaro (’16g) has accepted a position as an assistant professor of geography at Bucknell University.
  • Jiayan Zhao is co-author with alumnus Rui Li (’12g) on a paper accepted by the German Artificial Intelligence Journal, KI – Künstliche Intelligenze.
  • Alumna Helen Poulos (’02g) is quoted and one of Alan Taylor’s photographs is used in an article on Seeing Science about how photographic images influence perceptions of ecological issues.
  • Brian King was elected to serve on the Faculty Senate.

NEWS

Coffee Hour with Johnathan Rush: SKOPE: A CyberGIS Approach for Understanding Past Environments
In this coffee hour, Jonathan Rush will introduce a cyberGIS-enabled project to better understand past interactions of human and natural systems. The environments of the past cannot be assumed to be fixed, or equivalent to today’s conditions. Shifting spatiotemporal patterns of settlement, land use, and climate can be important factors in understanding the contexts under which historic and prehistoric societies operated. However, data on these conditions can be difficult to discover and interpret. SKOPE, Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments, is being designed to fill this need.

Big Ten’s Geospatial Data Portal connecting access to GIS, historical map data
The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Geospatial Data Portal Project, of which Penn State University Libraries is a contributor, has launched an online spatial data discovery tool called the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal. The project and geoportal aim to provide discoverability, facilitate access and connect scholars across the Big Ten Academic Alliance to often scattered geospatial data resources.

Hamer $1 million gift supports Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons
Marie Bednar and her husband, the late Donald Hamer, have committed $1 million in support of the Penn State University Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons, part of a renovation and expansion of West Pattee Library termed the Central Atrium that would provide additional space for students’ study and team-based projects.

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

The Historical, Environmental and Socio-economic Context of Forests and Tree-based Systems for Food Security and Nutrition
By Parrotta, John A., Jennie Dey De Pryck, Beatrice Darko Obiri, Christine Padoch, Bronwen Powell, Chris Sandbrook, Bina Agarwal, Amy Ickowitz, Katy Jeary, Anca Serban, Terry Sunderland, and Tran Nam Tu
In Forests and Food: Addressing Hunger and Nutrition Across Sustainable Landscapes
Access: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt19b9jsg.8.
Forests and tree-based systems are an important component of rural landscapes, sustaining livelihoods and contributing to the food security and nutritional needs of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Historically, these systems developed under a wide variety of ecological conditions, and cultural and socio-economic contexts, as integrated approaches that combined management of forest and agricultural areas to provide primarily for the needs of producers and their local communities. Today they serve food and nutrition demands of growing global populations, both urban and rural.

Estimating Available Abandoned Cropland in the United States: Possibilities for Energy Crop Production
By Ryan Baxter and Kirby Calvert\
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Status: Accepted for publication
Abandoned cropland (ACL) is often cited as a land resource upon which to produce energy crops while reducing the negative impacts of broad scale energy crop production; for example, carbon emissions from land-cover change and competition with food production. In contrast to marginal land which refers to a set of biophysical and economic criteria usually imposed by experts or policymakers, the designation of ACL refers to a land-use decision by a land owner. As such, ACL is argued to be a more appropriate indication of land availability for dedicated energy crop production. Prevailing estimates of ACL in the US vary widely due to inconsistent treatment of land-use conversions away from cropland and over-reliance on remote sensing methods which measure land cover, even though ACL is a category of land use. This paper develops and applies a replicable and flexible methodology to estimate available abandoned cropland (AACL) at the county level in the United States, which accounts for conversion of ACL to forest cover, urban development or permanent pasture. Estimates of AACL are derived for two scenarios: 1) land abandoned between 1978 and 2012, which excludes lands with meaningful forest regrowth; and 2) land abandoned between 2007 and 2012, which corresponds to land-use constraints imposed by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Results show that 15 and 4.9 Mha of AACL exist in the United States in the two scenarios respectively, amounting to between only 3 and 8 percent of total light duty gasoline consumption in the US. The policy implications of these findings and the need for future research are discussed.


24
Jan 17

Coffee Hour is the Miller Lecture with Lynn Staeheli | Alumni news | Research publications

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

James McCrory visits Cindy's class

Alumnus James McCrory (’73), a helicopter pilot for Aspen Helicopters (a US Forest Service contractor), visits Cynthia Brewer’s GEOG 467 Applied Cartographic Design class to show how maps are used in fighting fires.

GOOD NEWS

Erica Smithwick is profiled as part of WiScifiles, a WPSU series about women in science at Penn State launching on Friday, January 27. You can like and follow the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wiscifiles

Alumnus Mario Machado’s (’16g) article, “President Obama’s Human Goodness Will Be Sorely Missed,” appears in the January 20 edition of the The Huffington Post.

Alumnae Amy Trauger (’01g, ’05g) and Jennifer Fluri (’01g, ’05g) are launching a new Feminism, Gender and Geography book series at the West Virginia University Press. Authors interested in submitting proposals for consideration should contact Authors interested in submitting proposals for consideration should contact Jennifer L. Fluri at jennifer.fluri@colorado.edu, Amy Trauger at atrauger@uga.edu, or Derek Krissoff at derek.krissoff@mail.wvu.edu

NEWS

Coffee Hour on January 27
The Miller Lecture with Lynn Staeheli “Cosmopolitan Habits and the Making of Citizenship in Bosnia-Herzegovina”
Since the Dayton Agreement brought an end to formal hostilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), international organizations and intergovernmental agencies have expended considerable effort and funds to promoted new ways of being as citizens. Young people have been the focus of many of these efforts, reflecting concerns that youth are particularly susceptible to the negative influence of ethno-nationalism, but also beliefs that this generation offers the best chance for change. In striving to provide alternative frames of belonging outwith ethno-nationalism, youth citizenship projects aim to instill habits of cosmopolitanism in everyday practices. Drawing on John Dewey’s ideas regarding the habits of citizenship, the paper traces the complex geography of citizenship that international organizations attempt to construct and that young people navigate.

  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:00 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast
  • Next time: February 3 with Jonathan Rush

Climate change effects, solutions to be discussed on WPSU’s ‘Conversations LIVE’
The effects of human-caused climate change both locally and throughout the world will be discussed by University experts during the next episode of WPSU Penn State’s “Conversations LIVE.” The live broadcast, which encourages community input and interaction between viewers and guests, will air at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, on WPSU-TV, WPSU-FM and online at wpsu.org/live.

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Civil Rights as Geospatial Work (book chapter)
By H Derek, J Inwood
In Race, Ethnicity, and Place in a Changing America, 2016
Access https://books.google.com/books?id=6qnuDQAAQBAJ&lpg=PA177&ots=wXYlQjf78W&dq=%5B%20%22Inwood%2C%20Joshua%22%20%5D&lr=lang_en&pg=PA177#v=onepage&q&f=false
This book examines major Hispanic, African, and Asian diasporas in the continental United States and Puerto Rico from the nineteenth century to the present, with particular attention on the diverse ways in which these immigrant groups have shaped and reshaped American places and landscapes. Through both historical and contemporary case studies, the contributors examine how race and ethnicity affect the places we live, work, and visit, illustrating along the way the behaviors and concepts that comprise the modern ethnic and racial geography of immigrant and minority groups. While primarily addressed to students and scholars in the fields of racial and ethnic geography, these case studies will be accessible to anyone interested in race-place connections, race-ethnicity boundaries, the development of racialization, and the complexity of human settlement patterns and landscapes that make up the United States and Puerto Rico. Taken together, they show how individuals and culture groups, through their ideologies, social organization, and social institutions, reflect both local and regional processes of place-making and place-remaking that occur within and beyond the continental United States.

Citizen monitoring during hazards: validation of Fukushima radiation measurements
By Carolynne Hultquist and Guido Cervone
In GeoJournal
Access DOI: 10.1007/s10708-017-9767-x
Citizen-led movements producing scientific hazard data during disasters are increasingly common. After the Japanese earthquake-triggered tsunami in 2011, and the resulting radioactive releases at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, citizens monitored on-ground levels of radiation with innovative mobile devices built from off-the-shelf components. To date, the citizen-led Safecast project has recorded 50 million radiation measurements worldwide, with the majority of these measurements from Japan. The analysis of data which are multi-dimensional, not vetted, and provided from multiple devices presents big data challenges due to their volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. While the Safecast project produced massive open-source radiation measurements at specific coordinates and times, the reliability and validity of the overall data have not yet been assessed. The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant provides a case for assessing the Safecast data with official aerial remote sensing radiation data jointly collected by the governments of the United States and Japan. This study spatially analyzes and statistically compares the citizen-volunteered and government-generated radiation data.

Between exposure, access and use: Reconsidering foodscape influences on dietary behaviours
By Christelle Clary, Stephen Augustus Matthews, Yan Kestens
In Health and Place
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.12.005
Good accessibility to both healthy and unhealthy food outlets is a greater reality than food deserts. Yet, there is a lack of conceptual insights on the contextual factors that push individuals to opt for healthy or unhealthy food outlets when both options are accessible. Our comprehension of foodscape influences on dietary behaviours would benefit from a better understanding of the decision-making process for food outlet choices. In this paper, we build on the fundamental position that outlet choices are conditioned by how much outlets’ attributes accommodate individuals’ constraints and preferences. We further argue that food outlets continuously experienced within individuals’ daily-path help people re-evaluate food acquisition possibilities, push them to form intentions, and shape their preferences for the choices they will subsequently make. Doing so, we suggest differentiating access, defined as the potential for the foodscape to be used at the time when individuals decide to do so, from exposure, which acts as a constant catalyst for knowledge, intention, preferences and routine tendency. We conclude with implications for future research, and discuss consequences for public policy.

Predicting root zone soil moisture with soil properties and satellite near-surface moisture data across the conterminous United States
By D. Baldwin, S. Manfreda, K. Keller, E.A.H. Smithwick
In Journal of Hydrology
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.01.020
Satellite-based near-surface (0-2cm) soil moisture estimates have global coverage, but do not capture variations of soil moisture in the root zone (up to 100 cm depth) and may be biased with respect to ground-based soil moisture measurements. Here, we present an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) hydrologic data assimilation system that predicts bias in satellite soil moisture data to support the physically based Soil Moisture Analytical Relationship (SMAR) infiltration model, which estimates root zone soil moisture with satellite soil moisture data. The SMAR-EnKF model adds a regional-scale estimated bias parameter, which is estimated using available in situ data. The regional bias parameter is added to satellite soil moisture retrievals before their use in the SMAR model, and the bias parameter is updated continuously over time with the EnKF algorithm. The SMAR-EnKF is used to assimilate in situ soil moisture at 43 Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) monitoring locations across the conterminous U.S. Multivariate regression models are developed to estimate SMAR parameters using soil physical properties and the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) evapotranspiration data product as covariates.

Supervised classification of civil air patrol (CAP)
By Elena Sava, Laura Clemente-Harding, Guido Cervone
In Natural Hazards
Access DOI: 10.1007/s11069-016-2704-3
The mitigation and response to floods rely on accurate and timely flood assessment. Remote sensing technologies have become the de facto approach for observing the Earth and its environment. However, satellite remote sensing data are not always available, and it is crucial to develop new techniques to complement them with additional sources. This research proposes a new methodology based on machine learning algorithms to automatically identify water pixels in Civil Air Patrol (CAP) aerial imagery. Specifically, a wavelet transformation is paired with multiple classifiers to build models that discriminate water and non-water pixels. The learned classification models are first tested against a set of control cases and then used to automatically classify each image separately. Lastly, for each pixel in an image, a measure of uncertainty is computed as a proportion of the number of models that classify the pixel as water. The proposed methodology is tested on imagery collected during the 2013 Colorado flood.


17
Jan 17

Coffee Hour with Derek Alderman | Glacial melt trickle-down | Conservation v. livelihoods?

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

GEO lab members at PEMA

The members of the Geoinformatics and Earth Observation Lab visited the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) in Harrisburg to establish a collaboration to use social media during emergencies. Pictured (left to right): Weiming Hu, Martina Calovi, Carolyn Hultquist, Liping Yang, Elena Sava, Guido Cervone.

GOOD NEWS

Jennifer Baka has been selected as an Early Career Representative of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Knowledge Action Network for Future Earth. The team will be responsible for designing approaches and facilitating research to advance sustainability research.

Christopher Fowler was quoted in WalletHub’s recent piece about 2017’s most and least recession-recovered cities.

Master’s student Eric Taber and Geography faculty members Justine Blanford and Erica Smithwick have an article accepted in the Journal of Vector Ecology “A decade of colonization: the spread of the Asian Tiger Mosquito in Pennsylvania and implications for disease risk. “

NEWS

Coffee Hour on January 20 with Derek Alderman
MLK Streets as Unfinished Civil Rights Work: The Need for Counter-Storytelling in a Trump America
Over the past twenty years or so, I have researched the politics of naming America’s streets for Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK). These roadways, which represent the most widespread and contentious memorials to King, have proven to be important sites for understanding the politics that continue to surround the civil rights leader’s reputation and legacy. Although King has become an internationally recognized icon, there remains considerable debate about not only whether and how to honor him but also where—and on which street—that remembering should happen. These locational struggles speak to broader racialized fights for public space and belonging in American cities and opposition has frequently led to a social and spatial marginalization and segregation of King’s memory. I conceptualize MLK streets as not only monuments to the Civil Rights Movement but also extensions of the ongoing, unfinished struggle for civil rights—recognizing that geographies of naming and memorializing are inseparable from a consideration of the material conditions, inequalities, and legacies of violence within our society.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast
  • Next time: January 27, 2017 The Miller Lecture with Lynn Staeheli

The effects of melting glaciers on tropical communities
A Penn State professor is researching the trickle-down effects that melting tropical glaciers have on food security and biodiversity, and what regional communities, like Cusco and Huaraz in Peru, can do about it.

Karl Zimmerer, professor of geography, conducts research focused on the impacts of climate change on glaciers and in tropical mountains, and how this affects agrobiodiversity and food security in communities.

Conservation practices may leave African indigenous populations behind
Conservation and logging groups in Central and West Africa are failing to fully incorporate local concerns into management, marginalizing the livelihoods of the local population, according to Nathan Clay, doctoral candidate in geography, Penn State.

The landscape- or ecosystem-based approach to conservation — a land-use strategy employed in Central and West Africa for more than a decade — is meant to serve as a model for what happens when competing interests work together.

 


10
Jan 17

Coffee Hour begins January 20 | Easterling to NSF | King’s book on HIV

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

brownandrewemsposercauseAustin Brown won third place in the 2016 EMS Undergraduate Student Poster Exhibition. His team’s entry was, “Recession of the Ampatuni and Ausangate Glaciers.” Denice Wardrop, Mike Nassry, and Joe Bishop were the project advisers. You can see his CAUSE digital story on the department homepage.

GOOD NEWS

Brian King’s article, “How bucking climate change accord would hinder fight against HIV/AIDS” has been published on The Conversation.

Angela Rogers was accepted as a College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Administrative Fellow for 2017.

Lauren Fritzsche was elected as the new graduate representative. She joins Ramzi Tubbeh, E.-K. Kim, and Peter Koby as the department’s graduate representatives. Her term will run from January to December 2017.

Josh Inwood was quoted in a news story on CBS “KKK members insist they’re not ‘white supremacists’”

Guido Cervone received NCAR visitor funding.

Laura Clemente-Harding received an NCAR ASP scholarship.

holiday basket

Supporting Women In Geography exceeded its donation goal and were able to sponsor an additional family through Centre County Women’s Resource Center. A family of three and a family of four received holiday baskets. Left, a picture of one of the baskets.

NEWS

Coffee Hour spring line-up announced
Spring semester Coffee Hour will begin on January 20 with Derek Alderman speaking about MLK streets as monuments to the Civil Rights Movement and also extensions of the ongoing, unfinished struggle for civil rights. Two Miller Lectures will be held this semester. The first, with Lynn Staehelli, will be on January 27. The second, with Tonny Bebbington, will be on April 14. The list of speakers can be found on the department website. Details about each talk are added as they are confirmed. Coffee Hour is the Department of Geography’s ongoing Friday lecture series. Coffee Hour has been held during the spring and fall semesters since 1968.

Dean of EMS tapped for NSF post
The National Science Foundation has named William E. Easterling III, professor of geography and dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), to serve as director for the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) in Washington D.C., which supports fundamental research spanning the atmospheric, earth, ocean and polar sciences.

Easterling will step down as dean on May 31, 2017, and will begin his four-year NSF appointment on June 1, 2017.  He will remain a member of the Penn State faculty during the four years with NSF.

Apartheid’s lingering effects on HIV and AIDS
Though it was abolished more than two decades ago, Apartheid continues to affect communities in South Africa. In this political system, which lasted from 1948 to the 1994 democratic elections, people were racially classified and forced to live in segregated geographic areas. Within rural South Africa, these spatial containers were called “homelands,” or Bantustans.

“If we were driving through South Africa today, we would easily identify the former Bantustan border because you can see fairly substantial income inequalities from one village to the next. The former KaNgwane Bantustan is a very high population-density area that is surrounded by privately owned farms producing sugar cane and other products for foreign markets,” said Brian King, associate professor of geography. “My work has shown that South Africa’s legacies of racial classification and spatial regulation have played a role in that, and how these spaces continue to shape health and livelihood possibilities in the contemporary era.”

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

A step-by-step approach to improve data quality when using commercial business lists to characterize retail food environments
By Kelly K. Jones, Shannon N. Zenk, Elizabeth Tarlov, Lisa M. Powell, Stephen A. Matthews and Irina Horoi
In BMC Research Notes
Access DOI: 10.1186/s13104-016-2355-1
Food environment characterization in health studies often requires data on the location of food stores and restaurants. While commercial business lists are commonly used as data sources for such studies, current literature provides little guidance on how to use validation study results to make decisions on which commercial business list to use and how to maximize the accuracy of those lists. Using data from a retrospective cohort study [Weight And Veterans’ Environments Study (WAVES)], we (a) explain how validity and bias information from existing validation studies (count accuracy, classification accuracy, locational accuracy, as well as potential bias by neighborhood racial/ethnic composition, economic characteristics, and urbanicity) were used to determine which commercial business listing to purchase for retail food outlet data and (b) describe the methods used to maximize the quality of the data and results of this approach.

An Impressionistic Cartographic Solution for Base Map Land Cover with Coarse Pixel Data
By Paulo Raposo, Cynthia A. Brewer, Kevin Sparks
In Cartographic Perspectives
Access DOI: 10.14714/CP83.1351
Several every-day cartography applications do not require sharply precise base maps, and in fact benefit from their generalization or deliberate obscuration, such as tourist or transit maps. Additionally, raster data fine enough for a given map scale are not always available. We present a method of creating an impressionistic land cover base map for topographic mapping in which the above two conditions are true, using the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) of the US Geological Survey (USGS). The method is based on reclassification, upsampling, constrained randomization at class boundary edges, and deliberate use of colors with very similar lightness values. The method spans both scientific geospatial data treatment and artistic cartographic design, and both generalizes and enhances the data. The processing, automated in ArcGIS™, is detailed, and examples of the product are provided.

Agro-environmental Transitions in African Mountains: Shifting Socio-spatial Practices Amid State-Led Commercialization in Rwanda
By Nathan Clay
In Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Access http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2016.1254019
Agricultural commercialization has been slow to take hold in mountain regions throughout the world. It has been particularly limited by challenges of mechanization, transportation access, and governance. Efforts at green-revolution style development have met with persistent failures in highland sub-Saharan Africa, where agricultural systems are often finely tuned to complex and dynamic social–ecological contexts. In Rwanda, a mountainous country in east central Africa, development efforts have long aimed to transition away from largely subsistence-based production that relies on high labor input toward commercial farming systems that are rooted in capital investment for marketable goods. Since 2005, Rwanda’s land policy has become increasingly ambitious, aiming to reduce the 85 percent of households involved in agriculture to 50 percent by the year 2020. The country’s Crop Intensification Program (CIP) compels farmers to consolidate land and cultivate government-selected crops. Although state assessments have touted the productivity gains created through the CIP, others speculate that households could be losing access to crucial resources. Research from both sides, however, has focused squarely on the CIP’s immediate successes and failures without considering how households are responding to the program within the context of the complex and variable mountain environment. Drawing from political ecology and mountain geography, this article describes recent state-led agricultural commercialization in Rwanda as a partial and contested process. By analyzing complex land-use and livelihood changes, it fills an important conceptual and empirical research gap in understanding the environmental and social dynamics of the agrarian transitions of the highlands of Africa.

Supervised classification of civil air patrol (CAP)
By Elena Sava, Laura Clemente-Harding, Guido Cervone
In Natural Hazards
Access DOI: 10.1007/s11069-016-2704-3
The mitigation and response to floods rely on accurate and timely flood assessment. Remote sensing technologies have become the de facto approach for observing the Earth and its environment. However, satellite remote sensing data are not always available, and it is crucial to develop new techniques to complement them with additional sources. This research proposes a new methodology based on machine learning algorithms to automatically identify water pixels in Civil Air Patrol (CAP) aerial imagery. Specifically, a wavelet transformation is paired with multiple classifiers to build models that discriminate water and non-water pixels. The learned classification models are first tested against a set of control cases and then used to automatically classify each image separately. Lastly, for each pixel in an image, a measure of uncertainty is computed as a proportion of the number of models that classify the pixel as water. The proposed methodology is tested on imagery collected during the 2013 Colorado flood.


06
Jan 17

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06
Dec 16

No Coffee Hour | NYT cites Taylor’s research | Students tour Iceland

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Terraces

The image shown here is an aerial view of the slopes of Mount Halimun Salak, near Bogor. Higher up the mountain is a forested National Park that provides much of the drinking water for the mega-city of Jakarta. Are you interested in learning more about landscapes and health? Bronwen Powell is accepting student interns to work with her on research projects. Photo by Kate Evens/CIFOR.

GOOD NEWS

Carolyn Fish and Nathan Piekielek just had an article published in the Journal of Maps and Geography Libraries on Targeting Disciplines for GIS Outreach Using Bibliometric Analysis.

Clio Andris has been awarded a $159,000 grant from the Knight Foundation for the project: Census 2.0: A census of connectivity.

Alan Taylor’s research was cited in a New York Times column, “Dot Earth,” about fire management policies in California’s Sierra Nevadas.

Andrew Brown won third place in the 2016 EMS Undergraduate Student Poster Exhibition. His team’s entry was, “Recession of the Ampatuni and Ausangate Glaciers.” Denice Wardrop, Mike Nassry, and Joe Bishop were the project advisers.

NEWS

EMS students tour Iceland’s renewable energy facilities
Picturesque Iceland, the least populated nation in Europe, is home to glaciers, volcanoes and a unique ability to harness the renewable energy that lies beneath the Earth’s surface.

It’s also a place for Penn State students to see classroom lessons and their career ambitions brought to life.

This summer, with the help of a scholarship from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), EMS students toured the country as part of the Global Renewable Energy Education Network, or GREEN, program’s Iceland trip. There, students spent 10 days in unique classroom settings at Reykjavik University’s School of Science and Engineering, paired with adventure trips to tour the renewable energy facilities that produce 99 percent of Iceland’s energy needs.

“Students really get inside knowledge of those facilities. They get in-depth, personalized tours from the heads of those facilities,” said Stacy Davidson, academic adviser in EMS. “Iceland wants everyone to see what they’re doing.”

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Performance evaluation measures for toponym resolution
By Morteza Karimzadeh
In GIR ’16 Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on Geographic Information Retrieval Article No. 8
https://doi.org/10.1145/3003464.3003472
In this paper, we point out to the shortcomings of precision and recall in evaluating the performance of geoparsing algorithms. We propose separate processes for evaluating toponym recognition and toponym resolution stages, and also propose new metrics that quantify the performance of toponym resolution.

Immersive Analytics for Multi-objective Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) Models.
By Mark Simpson, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Alexander Klippel, Liping Yang, Gregory Garner, Klaus Keller, Danielle Oprean, and Saurabh Bansal. 2016.
In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Companion on Interactive Surfaces and Spaces (ISS Companion ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 99-105.
https://doi.org/10.1145/3009939.3009955
We are creating an immersive analytics tool for exploring the output of a Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) model, and present early work on the prototype system. DICE models and other Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) are critical for informing environmental decision making and policy analysis. They often produce complex and multi-layered output, but need to be understood by decision makers who are not experts. We discuss our current and targeted feature set in order to help address this challenge. Additionally, we look ahead to the potential for rigorous evaluation of the system to uncover whether or not it is an improvement over current visualization methods.

Grassland productivity in response to nutrient additions and herbivory is scale-dependent.
By Smithwick E. A. H., Baldwin D. C., Naithani K. J.
In (2016) PeerJ 4:e2745
https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2745
Vegetation response to nutrient addition can vary across space, yet studies that explicitly incorporate spatial pattern into experimental approaches are rare. To explore whether there are unique spatial scales (grains) at which grass response to nutrients and herbivory is best expressed, we imposed a large (∼3.75 ha) experiment in a South African coastal grassland ecosystem. In two of six 60 × 60 m grassland plots, we imposed a scaled sampling design in which fertilizer was added in replicated sub-plots (1 × 1 m, 2 × 2 m, and 4 × 4 m). The remaining plots either received no additions or were fertilized evenly across the entire area. Three of the six plots were fenced to exclude herbivory. We calculated empirical semivariograms for all plots one year following nutrient additions to determine whether the scale of grass response (biomass and nutrient concentrations) corresponded to the scale of the sub-plot additions and compared these results to reference plots (unfertilized or unscaled) and to plots with and without herbivory. We compared empirical semivariogram parameters to parameters from semivariograms derived from a set of simulated landscapes (neutral models). Empirical semivariograms showed spatial structure in plots that received multi-scaled nutrient additions, particularly at the 2 × 2 m grain. The level of biomass response was predicted by foliar P concentration and, to a lesser extent, N, with the treatment effect of herbivory having a minimal influence. Neutral models confirmed the length scale of the biomass response and indicated few differences due to herbivory. Overall, we conclude that interpretation of nutrient limitation in grasslands is dependent on the grain used to measure grass response and that herbivory had a secondary effect.


29
Nov 16

Coffee Hour with Kathleen M. Carley | Holdsworth recognized | Humans influence fire

IMAGE OF THE WEEK

milkweedRob Brooks shares this image of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a great pollinator, releasing its seeds. This plant is also a favorite of monarch butterflies and caterpillars.

GOOD NEWS

  • Geography undergraduate students, Kathy Cappelli, Haley Darr, Adelaide Kellett, and Christopher Mertz have been selected as EMS Ambassadors.
  • SWIG is collecting donations for a family through the Centre County Women’s Resource Center Holiday Sponsorship Program.  Julie Sanchez and Jamie Peeler are accepting donations through Friday, December 2.
  • Joshua Inwood’s article, “MLK in TrumpLand: America should look to Martin Luther King Jr. during this post-election chaos,” originally published on The Conversation, was picked up by Salon.com, and he was interviewed for a podcast about it.
  • Deryck Holdsworth has been named a General Education Faculty Fellow for 2016–17.
  • The League of American Bicyclists recognized Penn State with a silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) award. With this designation, Penn State is one of more than 150 bicycle-friendly colleges and universities across the country. For more information about bicycling on campus, visit www.transportation.psu.edu/biking

NEWS

Coffee Hour on December 2 with Kathleen M. Carley
Dynamic Network Analysis and Big Data
Our ability to understand and predict socio-cultural activity is being transformed by the exponential growth in big data available on the web – both social media data as well as open government and organizational records. Analysis of such data has the potential to create the timely and detailed information needed to improve crisis response and so save lives and goods, improve community resilience, support early identification of security threats and decrease social-cyber attacks. Across all these areas there are a set of common key methodological challenges are driven by the nature of the data: “wide” data, sampled data, and geo-temporal evolving data.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.
  • The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast
  • Next time: January 20, 2017 with Derek Alderman

Human actions influence fire regimes in the Sierra Nevadas
While climate contributes strongly to fire activity in the Sierra Nevada mountains of the western U.S., human activity, starting well before European contact, has also played an important part in the severity, frequency and sheer numbers of forest fires occurring in the area, according to researchers.

“Initially, we did work to see if we could develop long-lead forecasts for fire in the area — six to 18 months in the future — using climate patterns such as El Niño,” said Alan H. Taylor, professor of geography, Penn State. “This would be a significant help because we could place resources in the west if forecasts indicated it would be dry and the southeast would be wet. However, the climate relationships with fire did not consistently track.”

RECENTLY (OR SOON TO BE) PUBLISHED

Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE
By Alan H. Taylor, Valerie Trouet, Carl N. Skinner, and Scott Stephens
In Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 2016 113 (48) 13684-13689; doi:10.1073/pnas.1609775113
Large wildfires in California cause significant socioecological impacts, and half of the federal funds for fire suppression are spent each year in California. Future fire activity is projected to increase with climate change, but predictions are uncertain because humans can modulate or even override climatic effects on fire activity. Here we test the hypothesis that changes in socioecological systems from the Native American to the current period drove shifts in fire activity and modulated fire–climate relationships in the Sierra Nevada. We developed a 415-y record (1600–2015 CE) of fire activity by merging a tree-ring–based record of Sierra Nevada fire history with a 20th-century record based on annual area burned. Large shifts in the fire record corresponded with socioecological change, and not climate change, and socioecological conditions amplified and buffered fire response to climate.

States of Disease: Political Environments and Human Health
By Brian King
Published by Univ of California Press, Jan 24, 2017
Human health is shaped by the interactions between social and ecological systems. In States of Disease, Brian King advances a social ecology of health framework to demonstrate how historical spatial formations contribute to contemporary vulnerabilities to disease and the opportunities for health justice. He examines how expanded access to antiretroviral therapy is transforming managed HIV in South Africa. And he reveals how environmental health is shifting due to global climate change and flooding variability in northern Botswana. These case studies illustrate how the political environmental context shapes the ways in which health is embodied, experienced, and managed.


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