Coffee Hour with Guido Cervone | New ENVI minor | GEOGRAPH highlights


dunes erosion and stable
The photo on the left shows the rapidly eroding sand dunes—essentially glacial till—near Eastham, Cape Cod, Mass. The houses are in an increasingly precarious position! On the right is a view of the coastal sand dunes near Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass, taken from the National Park visitor center. They are partly vegetated, and so are relatively stable (unlike the Eastham dunes). Photos: Andrew Carleton.


Penn State students, faculty and staff, as well as local community members (ages 18 and older) are encouraged to attend a free bike safety workshop on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 117 Weston Community Center at Penn State’s White Course Apartments.All participants must bring a bike and helmet to participate. Participants will receive a free pair of Penn State bike lights.

The AAG is currently seeking panelists, workshop facilitators, career mentors, and presenters encompassing a wide range of professional backgrounds, interests, and experiences to participate in careers and professional development outreach during the 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. To present in one of these sessions, please submit your abstract at When you receive confirmation of a successful abstract submission, please then forward this confirmation to: The abstract deadline is October 25, 2017.


September 29 Coffee Hour with Guido Cervone: Citizen Science During Nuclear Emergency: Analysis of The Fukushima-Dahichi Nuclear Accident
The 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident resulted in a series of controlled and accidental releases of radioactive Cesium in the environment. The citizen science Safecast project was started immediately after the accident to map radiation using off the shelf instruments, and generated over 60 million observations since April 2011. A robust methodology is presented to calibrate contributed Safecast radiation measurements acquired between 2011 and 2016 in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan. The Safecast data are calibrated using official observations acquired by the U.S. Department of Energy at the time of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant nuclear accident.

  • 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.
  • Watch the webcast on Mediasite

Environmental Inquiry minor encourages environmental curiosity, literacy
Addressing environmental concerns, enriching a wide range of majors and making an impact in the community — those are some of the benefits the Environmental Inquiry (ENVI) minor offers, according to Larry Gorenflo, faculty-in-charge of ENVI and professor of landscape architecture and geography at Penn State. The minor recently launched a new website.

[Editor’s note: The Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH Newsletter was published and mailed in August. We are placed the articles on the department website and will highlight this content during the fall. Want to get your copy in the mail? Send your postal address to]

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
SWIG chapter promotes equity through outreach
Penn State’s chapter of Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) recognizes the role of gender, sexuality, race, and class in the organization of our everyday lives and aims to promote and empower individuals within geography by offering a supportive network and opportunities to grow professionally, intellectually, and personally.

From the Summer 2017 GEOGRAPH newsletter
Community updates, departures and arrivals


Applying Critical Race And Memory Studies To University Place Naming Controversies: Toward A Responsible Landscape Policy
By Jordan Brasher, Derek H. Alderman, Joshua Inwood
Forthcoming in Papers In Applied Geography
A number of U.S. universities are embroiled in debates over the long-time commemoration and valorization of white supremacy through the campus landscape. Recognizing place naming as a legitimate political arena, activists have called for—and in some instances succeeded—in removing from university buildings the names of historical figures shrouded in racial controversy. However, for the broader public and even sympathetic higher education officials, there is a lack of understanding about why these demands are important and even less recognition about the violence that racially insensitive place naming inflicts on the belonging of marginalized groups. Instead, the renaming of campus landscapes is understood as merely an act of political correctness and thus campus authorities have offered uneven and incomplete solutions in the name of progressive reform. Applying recent innovations in race and memory studies, specifically the ideas of “wounded” places and “memory-work,” we situate ongoing university place naming controversies in a critical context. Specifically, we build upon the recent work of law scholar Stephen Clowney and discuss the opportunities and challenges of developing a policy of landscape fairness that recognizes the power of place to transmit ideas about racial power across generations and the right of critics to challenge dominant historical narratives.

Analysis of errors introduced by geographic coordinate systems on
weather numeric prediction modeling
By Yanni Cao, Guido Cervone, Zachary Barkley, Thomas Lauvaux, Aijun Deng, and Alan Taylor
In Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 3425–3440, 2017
Most atmospheric models, including the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, use a spherical geographic coordinate system to internally represent input data and perform computations. However, most geographic information system (GIS) input data used by the models are based on a spheroid datum because it better represents the actual geometry of the earth. WRF and other atmospheric models use these GIS input layers as if they were in a spherical coordinate system without accounting for the difference in datum. When GIS layers are not properly reprojected, latitudinal errors of up to 21 km in the midlatitudes are introduced. Recent studies have suggested that for very high-resolution applications, the difference in datum in the GIS input data (e.g., terrain land use, orography) should be taken into account. However, the magnitude of errors introduced by the difference in coordinate systems remains unclear. This research quantifies the effect of using a spherical vs. a spheroid datum for the input GIS layers used by WRF to study greenhouse gas transport and dispersion in northeast Pennsylvania.

Developing and Evaluating VR Field Trips
By Oprean D., Wallgrün J.O., Pinto Duarte J.M., Verniz D., Zhao J., Klippel A.
In Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at the 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017)
We present our work on creating and assessing virtual field trip experiences using different VR and AR setups. In comparative studies, we address the question of how different settings and technologies compare regarding their ability to convey different kinds of spatial information and to foster spatial learning. We focus on a case study on an informal settlement in Rio, Brazil, in which we used an informal assessment to help inform and improve the design of different VR site experiences.

Immersive Technologies and Experiences for Archaeological Site Exploration and Analysis
By Wallgrün J.O., Jiawei Huang, Jiayan Zhao, Claire Ebert, Paul Roddy, Jaime Awe, Tim Murtha, Alexander Klippel
In Proceedings of Workshops and Posters at the 13th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2017)
Immersive technologies have the potential to significantly improve and disruptively change the future of education and research. The representational opportunities and characteristics of immersive technologies are so unique that only the recent development in mass access fostered by heavy industry investments will allow for a large-scale assessment of the prospects. To further our understanding, this paper describes a project that aims at creating a comprehensive suite of immersive applications for archeological sites, including 360∘ immersive tours, skywalks, and self-guided explorations for education, and immersive workbenches for researchers.


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