Sep 15

Coffee Hour with NGA Director Robert Cardillo | Mapping the northern lights | Visualizing uncertainty


Mumbai, IndiaAparna Parikh sends this photo from her fieldwork site around call center landscapes in Malad, a suburb located in the northern part of Mumbai, India.


Tom Auer (M.S. ’09) has taken a new exciting job at Cornell as a GIS Developer.

Kimberly Struthers (MGIS) Received 2nd place at GIS in the Rockies for her poster presentation “Conservation strategy: where it matters most. Integrating demographics, socioeconomic, lifestyle and biodiversity.”

Send your good news to share to geography@psu.edu.


October 2 Coffee Hour with Robert Cardillo “Succeeding in the Open”
In this discussion, Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, deals with two topics: first, transparency, and how intelligence activities can be conducted in an increasingly open environment, and second, what skills are needed in this new, more open intelligence-gathering environment. NGA has been operating in a transparent environment for years. As James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has said, “Geospatial intelligence has a great advantage in our current environment because it is the most transparent of the collection disciplines.”

How do religion, ethics, and climate change fit together?
Question: Climate change is something that, until recently, was only discussed within the scientific community. But now others are getting involved from all types of disciplines, including religion and ethics. So what exactly does religion and ethics have to do with climate change?

IST professor part of effort to map aurora borealis using Twitter
The past few months have been exciting for followers of the aurora borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights. Sizable solar storms have produced spectacular auroras that have been visible in a much larger area than usual, including in parts of Pennsylvania.

Ecology on the wing
Drones have been flying over the Ugalla Forest in western Tanzania. Far from being part of a military operation, these drones are being used to map chimpanzee habitat as part of an international research collaboration.


Evaluating the effect of visually represented geodata uncertainty on decision-making: systematic review, lessons learned, and recommendations
By Christoph Kinkeldey, Alan M. MacEachren, Maria Riveiro & Jochen Schiewe in Cartography and Geographic Information Science
For many years, uncertainty visualization has been a topic of research in several disparate fields, particularly in geographical visualization (geovisualization), information visualization, and scientific visualization. Multiple techniques have been proposed and implemented to visually depict uncertainty, but their evaluation has received less attention by the research community. In order to understand how uncertainty visualization influences reasoning and decision-making using spatial information in visual displays, this paper presents a comprehensive review of uncertainty visualization assessments from geovisualization and related fields.

Influence of protected areas on malaria prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa
By Eric D. Taber and Erica A. H. Smithwick in Applied Geography doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.09.001
Despite exponential growth in the number and extent of protected areas globally, their role within disease dynamics remains unclear. Protected areas shape many biophysical and social factors related to malaria prevalence such as land use-land cover, biodiversity, socioeconomic conditions, and human behavior. This work examines the extent to which protected areas influence Plasmodium falciparum malaria prevalence within surrounding human populations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.


dogoweekAdogoweekBWho are these dogs? Who is their human? Send your answer and/or a photo of your dog to geography@psu.edu for our mystery dog of the week!

Sep 15

Coffee Hour with Sanjoy Chakravorty | CAUSE 2016 | What’s in a place name?


Rosendal, Norway.Andrew Carleton shares an image from his year on sabbatical. Pictured: Rosendal, Norway. Send your photos from fieldwork and travels to geography@psu.edu


Susan Lechtanski (B.S. ’97) was named to the GEMS Board of Directors.

Lise Nelson’s article, “Landscapes of luxury in the rural US depend on the recruitment of low-wage and often undocumented Latino workers” on the London School of Economics U.S. policy and politics blog made it on the list of last week’s ten most popular posts on that site.

Jenna Christian was awarded a dissertation improvement grant from the National Science Foundation for her doctoral project titled: “Geopolitical Youth: Race, Citizenship, and a School-to-Military Pipeline in Houston, Texas.”

Mark Monmonier (M.S. ’67, Ph.D. ’69) is quoted in a news story about the Board on Geographic Names

Send your good news to share to geography@psu.edu.


September 25 Coffee Hour: On the Land Question in India: Crisis and Discourse
The scarcity of land has created a triple crisis in India. (1) A price crisis, whereby urban and rural land prices are arguably the highest in the world, reinforced by severe income inequality. (2) An agricultural crisis, whereby three-quarters of agricultural households possess less than an acre of land and make less than $100 per month. (3) An acquisition crisis, resulting in a new law that is oriented to social justice but will effectively create a social tax on the majority. I present the broad outlines of these conditions, followed by a brief discussion on the resulting intellectual and political responses. I argue that the former are ideological and the latter opportunistic, and both are based partial or convenient or wrong information. I end with a few words on my embryonic attempt to theorize the post-colonial state in the information age.

  • 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
  • Next Week: Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Penn State researchers assess the impacts of changing weather on Pennsylvania
Penn State researchers assessed the effects of changing climate conditions on agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, water resources, forestry, energy and human health in the 2015 Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment Update. The experts also made recommendations to help Pennsylvanians prepare and respond. The 2015 update was released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

CAUSE 2016: Glaciers and Wetlands of the Americas
CAUSE 2016 will be taught by Denice Wardrop, Joe Bishop, and Mike Nassry. The CAUSE 2016 experience includes travel to two distinctly different landscapes where students will be able to explore the impact of climate change and glacial recession on both the surrounding ecosystems and the communities that rely on glacial meltwater supported streams. Students will have the opportunity to explore both the societal impacts of climate change and participate in fieldwork in the glacial-wetland systems of each region.

Information Sessions:

  • Monday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. in room 10 Deike Building
  • Thursday, September 24, 6:00 p.m. in room 10 Deike Building

Polar Center releases video
The Polar Center fosters creative, ground-breaking, and synergistic collaboration by catalyzing exchange among members with a unique breadth of expertise at Penn State, representing the life-, physical-, and social sciences. See www.polar.psu.edu. View video: https://youtu.be/sStkod2aK3E.


  • An analog ensemble for short-term probabilistic solar power forecast
    By S. Alessandrini, L. Delle Monache, S. Sperati, G. Cervone in the Journal of Applied Energy. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.08.011
    The energy produced by photovoltaic farms has a variable nature depending on astronomical and meteorological factors. The former are the solar elevation and the solar azimuth, which are easily predictable without any uncertainty. The amount of liquid water met by the solar radiation within the troposphere is the main meteorological factor influencing the solar power production, as a fraction of short wave solar radiation is reflected by the water particles and cannot reach the earth surface. The total cloud cover is a meteorological variable often used to indicate the presence of liquid water in the troposphere and has a limited predictability, which is also reflected on the global horizontal irradiance and, as a consequence, on solar photovoltaic power prediction.
  • Influence of protected areas on malaria prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa
    By Eric Taber and Erica Smithwick in Applied Geography

Sep 15

Coffee Hour with Carter Hunt | Talking maps on the radio | Albedo mods a no-go


"Vista Chinesa" Many faculty and students attended the 27th International Cartographic Conference, August 23–28, 2015, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Alan MacEachren shares this photo: the view back to the city from “Vista Chinesa,” (Chinese View) a site in Tijuca National Park in Rio de Janeiro, same site written up in the vol. XXXVIII, No. 3 National Geographic from 1920. Send your photos from travels and field word to geography@psu.edu.


Send your good news to share to geography@psu.edu.


September 18 Coffee Hour: Carter Hunt “Tourism, conservation, and development in the Osa Peninsula region of Costa Rica: Conflict, coexistence, or symbiosis?”
The Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is situated in a unique geographic context that contributes to both spectacular biodiversity and a history of unsuccessful development interventions. As the region’s primary economic motor, tourism is intimately linked to efforts to conserve biodiversity and to provide sustainable development for the region’s residents. The research described here explores this relationship between tourism, conservation and development in the Osa region.

Students explore global sustainability challenges in EMS LEAP course
In one of her first experiences as a Penn State student, Callan Glover went caving in Jamaica to see the island’s underground aquifer system.

“We learned about Jamaica’s water system and how that relates to sustainability on the island. We got to see underground aquifers where water goes. It was a great first-hand experience,” said Glover, a first-year student majoring in geosciences.

Study finds geoengineering technique would not stop sea level rise
Albedo modification, an emerging technology with the potential to offset some aspects of climate change, shouldn’t be counted on as a short-term solution to stop rising global sea levels, according to a new study from Penn State geoscientists.

“In the short term, the first few decades to the first century after you start doing albedo modification, it’s not as effective in avoiding sea-level rise from the Greenland Ice Sheet as you might think,” said Patrick Applegate (CPGIS ’14), a research associate in Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. “The rate of sea-level rise goes down, but sea-level rise from the ice sheet doesn’t stop.”

Scarpaci brings global sustainability experience to Penn State Berks
Students at Penn State Berks will soon be able to experience sustainability initiatives in South Africa and other countries without ever leaving campus. Betsy Scarpaci, assistant director of residence life at Penn State Berks, has been instrumental in bringing an interactive kiosk to campus where students will be able to experience global sustainability with other Penn State students traveling abroad. Penn State Berks is the only campus in the Penn State system to have such a kiosk.


  • OpenStreetMap and Food Security: A Case Study in the City of Philadelphia
    By Sterling Quinn and Lakshman Yapa in The Professional Geographer
    DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2015.1065547
    OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an online public access database that allows for the collaborative collection of local geographic information. We employ this mapping technology to discuss a new social theory of poverty that moves away from income poverty to an economy that directly produces individuals’ basic needs. Focusing on urban farming in Philadelphia as an example, we use OSM to support the argument that money, land, labor, and capital do not limit food production in the city.
  • An analog ensemble for short-term probabilistic solar power forecast
    By Alessandrini, S., Delle Monache, L., Sperati, S., and Cervone, G in Applied Energy, DOI:10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.08.011, 157:95-110, 2015.
    A novel method for solar power probabilistic forecasting is proposed. The forecast accuracy does not depend on the nominal power. The impact of climatology on forecast accuracy is evaluated.
  • Fear, feminist geopolitics and the hot and banal
    By Jenna Christian, Lorraine Dowler, and Dana Cuomo in Political GeographyDOI:10.1016/j.polgeo.2015.06.003
    In this paper we bring together Billig’s notion of banal nationalism and recent feminist geopolitical examinations of fear in order to analyze two cases studies of fear among U.S. college students and U.S. soldiers experiencing sexual violence. Putting banal nationalism and feminist geopolitics into conversation, we argue, reveals both their compatibilities and important pathways for political geography and critical geopolitics to build on Billig’s work.

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