Online class in Enschede | EMS news | Bringing geography back to life



This week, online geospatial education program instructors Beth King and Fritz Kessler and ten students in GEOG 597G: Challenges in Global Geosptial Analytics are in Enschede, Netherlands. They are there to collaborate with graduate students from ITC – University of Twente to develop solutions to analyze spatio-temporal patterns in refugee migration data. Read more about this groundbreaking course in the forthcoming spring 2016 department newsletter.


• MGIS student Tyson Quink is the winner of the 2016 Michael Murphy award. He will be recognized at the Esri Users Conference in San Diego, California., on June 28.

Elaine Guidero passed her dissertation defense on June 16. Her title is, “A new look at the typographic landscape of maps: using microaesthetics to refine visual variables and choose semantic effects”

• On June 11, Rachel Passmore (BS ’14) completed 1 year (of 2) of service with the U.S. Peace Corps. She just began her first Peace Corps Partnership Project (PCPP) – She and her Grenadian counterpart will be hosting a sex education camp for 20 Grenadian youths this summer. Please consider supporting a fellow member of the Department of Geography, and donate to this 5-day summer program that has the possibility to change the futures of youth by preventing disease and/or teenage pregnancy.

Alexander Klippel’s proposal has been selected by the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) as one of only three to be funded during our Spring 2016 round of Research Initiation Grants (RIGs). These grants offer up to $40,000 in seed funding for the most innovative projects related to improving learning at Penn State and beyond.


Richardson named EMS associate dean for undergraduate education
Yvette Richardson, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, has been named associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), effective July 1. She will succeed Nels Shirer, who served as associate dean for education since 2012.

New website explores impacts of Marcellus gas development
A new website is giving people in rural Pennsylvania — and beyond — high-tech tools to learn about Marcellus Shale gas development in their backyards.

The website, Marcellus by Design, introduces some of the complex issues surrounding the industry’s development, and through interactive games and other resources, shows that communities can play a role in the process.

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness wins award for community impact
[Ed. note: Melina T. Czymoniewicz-Klippel is a researcher with the team]
A Penn State applied research center that focuses on enhancing the health and well-being of military service members and their families has been recognized for its community impact by a national higher education organization.

The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness — within Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute — has been honored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) as the Northeast regional winner for the 2016 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Scholarship Award. The center is now a finalist for the national C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Scholarship Award.


Bringing geography back to life: the role of the geospatial revolution in the US school system
By Roger M. Downs
In Geography
For the past 35 years, geography educators have sought to change the status and nature of geography in the school system in the USA. This is an exercise in disciplinary self-preservation and a response to the needs of twenty-first century citizens. However, systemic change is difficult to achieve in what amounts to a highly conservative, zero-sum game. The fortuitous confluence between an increasingly important way of thinking, spatial thinking, and an enabling technology “geospatial technologies” offers the chance to redirect the trajectory of K–12 (5–18 years-old) geography education. The changes to the nature of the geographical world brought about by the “Geospatial Revolution” have significant consequences for the education of members of Generation M, or those students born after 1990. Fostering the necessary levels of spatial literacy will require an across-the-curriculum approach to infusion, one in which, as this article demonstrates, geographers should play a leadership role.

Recent increases in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations
By  M. Potocki, P. Mayewski, A. Kurbatov, J. Simoes, D. Dixon, I. Goodwin,
A.M. Carleton, M. Handley, R. Jana, and E. Korotkikh.
In Atmospheric Environment
Access: doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010
Understanding the distribution of airborne uranium is important because it can result in both chemical and radiological toxicity. Ice cores offer the most robust reconstruction of past atmospheric levels of toxic substances. Here we present the first sub-annually dated, continuously sampled ice core documenting change in U levels in the Southern Hemisphere. The ice core was recovered from the Detroit Plateau, northern Antarctic Peninsula, in 2007 by a joint Brazilian-Chilean-US team. It displays a significant increase in U concentration that coincides with reported mining activities in the Southern Hemisphere, notably Australia. Raw U concentrations in the Detroit Plateau ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s accompanied by increased variability in recent years. Decadal mean U concentrations increased by a factor of ∼3 from 1980 to 2007, reaching a mean of 205 pg/L from 2000 to 2007. The fact that other terrestrial source dust elements such as Ce, La, Pr, and Ti do not show a similar increase and that the increased U concentrations are enriched above natural crustal levels, supports an anthropogenic source for the U as opposed to a change in atmospheric circulation.

Fluid Waters and Rigid Livelihoods in the Okavango Delta of Botswana
By King, B.; Shinn, J.E.; Crews, K.A.; Young, K.R.
In Land 2016, 5, 16.
Access: doi:10.3390/land5020016
Current and future impacts of climate change include increasing variability in a number of biophysical processes, such as temperature, precipitation, and flooding. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has suggested that Southern Africa is particularly vulnerable to the anticipated impacts from global climate change and that social and ecological systems in the region will be disrupted and likely transformed in future decades. This article engages with current research within geography and cognate disciplines on the possibilities for responsive livelihoods within socio-ecological systems experiencing biophysical change. The paper draws from an ongoing research project that is evaluating perceptions of environmental change, specifically of precipitation and flooding dynamics, in order to understand social responses. We report on the findings from qualitative interviewing conducted in 2010 and 2011 in the communities of Etsha 1, Etsha 6, and Etsha 13 within the Okavango Delta of Botswana. While flooding and precipitation patterns have been dynamic and spatially differentiated, some livelihood systems have proven rigid in their capacity to enable adaptive responses. We assert this demonstrates the need for detailed research on livelihood dynamics to support adjustments to biophysical variability within socio-ecological systems experiencing change.

Characterizing and Predicting Traffic Accidents in Extreme Weather Environments
By Richard M. Medina , Guido Cervone , Nigel M. Waters
In The Professional Geographer
Access: doi: 10.1080/00330124.2016.1184987
Motorists are vulnerable to extreme weather events, which are likely to be exacerbated by climate change throughout the world. Traffic accidents are conceptualized in this article as the result of a systemic failure that includes human, vehicular, and environmental factors. The snowstorm and concurrent accidents that occurred in the Northeastern United States on 26 January 2011 are used as a case study. Traffic accident data for Fairfax County, Virginia, are supplemented with Doppler radar and additional weather data to characterize the spatiotemporal patterns of the accidents resulting from this major snowstorm event. A kernel density smoothing method is implemented to identify and predict patterns of accident locations within this urban area over time. The predictive capability of this model increases over time with increasing accidents. Models such as these can be used by emergency responders to identify, plan for, and mitigate areas that are more susceptible to increased risk resulting from extreme weather events.

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