Jan 19

Coffee Hour with Elizabeth Wentz ’97g | GEOG 421 class draws the lines | Comparative GEOINT

IMAGE OF THE WEEKdraw the lines map

Chris Fowler’s fall 2018 GEOG 421 class took 2nd place in the category Higher Ed-Central in the in Draw the Lines PA contest. Judges’ statement: In their extensive outreach to fellow Penn Staters and others, the students in Chris Fowler’s Geography 421 class lived up fully to DTL’s hopes for how mappers might engage with their communities. This group embodies the goal of Draw The Lines: to encourage Pennsylvanians to understand and engage in the legislative redistricting process and foster open discussion and debate about the competing values at play. The class began by assessing their own values, then created a survey and website to assess those of other students. They went to football games and other events to promote the survey, resulting in an impressive 247 responses from nearly every Pennsylvania county. The data showed that the respondents most value competitive districts and the class began to map with this as its to priority. The students presented their results in a nicely produced video essay, which candidly covered their failures, their strategies for dealing with urban vs. rural balance, and the impact of racial makeup on a district’s competitiveness. This winning entry demonstrates a top-notch collaborative and grassroots process, combined with a very decent map.


The orientation/info session for UROC students has bee rescheduled for today, Jan. 29 at 7:45 p.m. in 319 Walker Building.

The African Studies program is hosting a talk on “Morocco as a melting-pot: A case study of the transmission and evolution of knowledge and use of black magic” by Abderrahim Ouarghidi, assistant research professor, Office of International Program. The talk is Wednesday, Feb. 6, 12:30 p.m. in 158 Willard Building.

The Center for Landscape Dynamics is accepting proposals for the 2019 Graduate Research Award. Proposals are due Feb. 22. For more information and to apply http://sites.psu.edu/centerforlandscapedynamics/graduate-training/previous-awardees/graduate-award-opportunity-spring-2019/

Angela Rogers recently passed her qualifying exam for the Ph.D. program in Workforce Education and Development at Penn State.

Alumnus John Frederick (’78) will hold a book signing and reading of his new book Winding Roads: A Bicyclists Journey through Life and America on Tuesday, Feb.12, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bellwood-Antis Public Library, 526 Main Street, Bellwood, PA 16617. (Snow date Feb. 14).

Alumnus Siddarth Pandey (’14), CSMCCEP, has been promoted to associate. Pandey is an assistant production manager in the geospatial group at Dewberry. He is currently pursuing a masters in professional studies in geographic information systems at the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Penn State, and is a member of the Maryland State Geographic Information Committee.

Alumna Lori Cohn Safer (’79) is President of the Seattle Chapter of the Appraisal Institute 2019, and a Content Reviewer for recently published book Real Property Valuation in Condemnation, Appraisal Institute, 2018.


Elizabeth Wentz ’97g, Dean & Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University
Empowering community resilience through a university-community knowledge exchange

The goal of this presentation is to introduce a Science to Solutions activity at Arizona State University (ASU). ASU’s new Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) aims to build capacity both within the university and to broader civil society to address real, current issues of community resilience. We conceptualize community resilience in broad terms, that is: in terms of people responding to profound social, economic, and environmental change. This might come in the form of shocks (disasters, economic crashes) but more often we look at it in terms of long-term stresses, like from vulnerability to hazards, or chronic poverty. For this, we need better and more accessible data and, more importantly, a better models of working collaboratively.

  • Friday, Feb. 1
  • 3:30 p.m. in 319 Walker Building, Coffee and refreshments
  • 4:00 in 112 Walker Building, Lecture
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast


From the USGIF 2019 State and Future of GEOINT Report
Knowing Your Opponent and Knowing Yourself: Lessons from comparing U.S. and Russian geospatial intelligence

By Dr. Todd Bacastow, Penn State; Dan Steiner, Orion Mapping; Stephen Handwerk, Penn State; Dr. Dennis Bellafiore, Penn State; Dr. Greg Thomas, Penn State; and the Penn State Comparative Geospatial Intelligence Seminar

This article speaks to the necessity of a comparative view of yourself and an opponent in GEOINT. We illustrate the need for a comparative approach in education by examining GEOINT in the United States and the Russian Federation (RU). Our example is to illustrate that reliable GEOINT demands knowing both your opponent and yourself. The results of the study are more relevant to GEOINT educational goals and the comparative process than informative of RU GEOINT capabilities since there is little open source and explicit information about RU GEOINT doctrine.

Q&A with Robert Brooks

Robert Brooks retired to emeritus status at the end of August 2018 after 38 years of service at Penn State (25 years as founder and director of Riparia and 15 years in the Department of Geography).

Q: What made you want to become a geographer/ecologist?

A: Ever since I was about 5 years old I’ve been fascinated by the natural world—learning the names of animals and plants; exploring small streams and wetlands; and reading tales from wilderness experiences. My friends and I would look at picture books of animals with maps of far off places, such as Australia and Africa, and memorize the species that lived there. It wasn’t until high school and my camping experiences in Scouting that I learned about ecology as a profession.


Convergent validity of an activity-space survey for use in health research

Shannon N. Zenk, Amber N. Kraft, Kelly K.Jones, Stephen A. Matthews
Health & Place
We explored the validity of a survey measuring activity spaces for use in health research in a racially/ethnically diverse adult sample (n = 86) living in four Chicago neighborhoods. Participants reported on the location and visit frequency of 64 activities and wore a GPS data logger. We assessed the spatial congruence of survey- and GPS-derived convex hull measures and the number of GPS points within 100 m and 1000 m of survey locations. The survey-derived convex hull measures captured a small percentage (median = 35.9%) of the GPS-derived convex hull area. However, most GPS points were located within 100 m or 1000 m of home or reported survey locations (median = 73.4% and 92.6%, respectively).

Where are we now? Re-visiting the Digital Earth through human-centered virtual and augmented reality geovisualization environments

Arzu Çöltekin, Danielle Oprean, Jan Oliver Wallgrün & Alexander Klippel
International Journal of Digital Earth
DOI: 10.1080/17538947.2018.1560986
The original Digital Earth concept, formulated by Al Gore (1998), is essentially a virtual reality system. In this (imagined) system, users are able to freely explore all possible recorded knowledge or information about the Earth though an interactive interface. While we imagine such an interface primarily as visual for now, it can be expected that in the future other senses will be engaged, allowing for even more realistic virtual experiences. Even though ‘realism’ in the experience is desirable (i.e., it feels real), immersive experiences provided by visualization environments can go beyond reality, as they can be enhanced with queryable information. Of course one can also create fictitious experiences and simulations in such environments; including information about possible pasts (e.g., ancient Rome) and futures (e.g., a planned neighborhood); or spaces that we cannot (easily) directly experience (e.g., the Moon, Mars, other far-away spaces, under the oceans, core of the earth, etc.).

Challenges for social flows

Clio Andris, Xi Liu, Joseph Ferreira Jr.
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
Social and interpersonal connections are attached to the built environment: people require physical infrastructure to meet and telecommunicate, and then populate these infrastructures with movement and information dynamics. In GIS analysis, actions are often represented as a unit of spatial information called the social flow–a linear geographic feature that evidences an individual’s decision to connect places through travel, telecommunications and/or declaring personal relationships. These flows differ from traditional spatial networks (roads, etc.) because they are often non-planar, and unlike networks in operations systems (such as flight networks), provide evidence of personal intentionality to interact with the built environment and/or to perpetuate relationships with others. En masse, these flows sum to illustrate how humans, information and thoughts spread between and within places.

Jan 19

Inwood writes on MLK | GEOGRAPH online | CLD accepts grad proposals


NASA image: SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft

International Space Station Commander Alexander Gerst watched and took this photo as the SpaceX’s Dragon craft approached. The Dragon cargo craft contained supplies and experiments, including the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), which will provide high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests, among others. The question for geographers is: What coastline is seen below the Dragon craft? Image: ESA/Gerst


An orientation/info session for UROC students will be held on Jan. 24, at 4:30 p.m. in 319 Walker Building.

The GIS Coalition will meet Monday, Jan. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in 229 Walker Building.

The Center for Landscape Dynamics will hold a brown bag lunch on Feb. 12 on “Making Science Relevant: how past graduate awardees of the award connect their research to communities and landscape management,” at noon in 319 Walker Building. The event is a way to learn more about the CLD-Graduate-Research-Award.

The PAC Herbarium has announced its spring workshop series. The first one is Feb. 21, “Forest fairies and princess pines: the club and spikemosses of Pennsylvania.” The workshops take place 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the PAC Herbarium, 10 Whitmore Lab. For more information and to register visit sites.psu.edu/herbarium

EMEX, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences annual student-run Open House is scheduled for Mar. 23. To learn more visit: www.ems.psu.edu/undergraduate/want-know-more/attend-prospective-student-events/emex


Next Coffee Hour is Feb. 1 with Elizabeth Wentz (’97g) speaking on “Empowering community resilience through a university-community knowledge exchange.” For more information visit: www.geog.psu.edu/event/coffee-hour-empowering-community-resilience-through-university-community-knowledge-exchange


from The Conversation
MLK’s vision of love as a moral imperative still matters

Fifty-one years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the United States remains divided by issues of race and racism, economic inequality as well as unequal access to justice. These issues are stopping the country from developing into the kind of society that Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for during his years as a civil rights activist.

GEOGRAPH newsletter issues now online

The 2018, 2017, and 2016 issues of the GEOGRAPH newsletter are now available on the department website www.geog.psu.edu under News and Events. The 2018 issue is fully available online and the other are available as downloadable PDFs. GEOGRAPH is printed and mailed annually to alumni and friends of the Department of Geography. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, send your postal address to geography@psu.edu under the subject “add GEOGRAPH subscription.” From time to time, articles originally published in the GEOGRAPH will be highlighted here in DoG enews.

Seed grant supports collaborative research in immersive technologies for research and teaching

A trans-disciplinary research team, led by Alexander Klippel, professor of geography and Gosnell Senior Faculty Scholar, received one of 10 seed grants to pilot programs that support Penn State’s 2016–2020 Strategic Plan. The proposal is titled, “Digital Innovation through Immersive Technologies: Establishing New Paradigms for Environmental Decision Support.”

The project primarily supports the thematic priority, Driving Digital Innovation, and also addresses Advancing the Arts and Humanities, Stewarding our Planet’s Resources, and Transforming Education. The goal is to demonstrate the potential that immersive technologies offer for all academic disciplines, but with a focus on environmental communication.


GeoTxt: A scalable geoparsing system for unstructured text geolocation

Karimzadeh M, Pezanowski S, MacEachren AM, Wallgrün JO
Transactions in GIS
In this article we present GeoTxt, a scalable geoparsing system for the recognition and geolocation of place names in unstructured text. GeoTxt offers six named entity recognition (NER) algorithms for place name recognition, and utilizes an enterprise search engine for the indexing, ranking, and retrieval of toponyms, enabling scalable geoparsing for streaming text. GeoTxt offers a flexible application programming interface (API), allowing for customized attribute and/or spatial ranking of retrieved toponyms. We evaluate the system on a corpus of manually geo‐annotated tweets. First, we benchmark the performance of the six NERs that GeoTxt provides access to. Second, we assess GeoTxt toponym resolution accuracy incrementally, demonstrating improvements in toponym resolution achieved (or not achieved) by adding specific heuristics and disambiguation methods. Compared to using the GeoNames web service, GeoTxt’s toponym resolution demonstrates a 20% accuracy gain. Our results show that places mentioned in the same tweet do not tend to be geographically proximate.


Jan 19

Coffee Hour with Lilian Pintea | Dowler to get AAG award | SWIG contest


hot spring

Jiayan Zhao shares this photo of the Travertine Hot Springs in Bridgeport, Ca., One of the places he visited over the holiday break.


It’s not too late to apply for UROC positions this semester—several still have openings. For details, visit the UROC site.

A forum focused on the University’s Strategic Plan and one of its thematic priorities, Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources, will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, in Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center. The purpose of the forum is to provide updates on Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources as well as seek input on the direction and focus of the priority. For more information or to register, visit http://www.iee.psu.edu/content/register-stewarding-our-planets-resources-forum

On January 21, 2019, MLK Day, World in Conversation will expand its regular programming by partnering with the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity to offer 60 facilitated dialogues for 600 faculty, staff, administrators, and students. For more information or to register, visit https://worldinconversation.org/mlk/

Gamma Theta Upsilon Geography Honors Society is holding their first general meeting of the semester on Tuesday, January 22 in 110 Walker Building at 7:00 pm.

The 13th International Conference on Military Geosciences will be held in Padova, Italy, June 24–28, 2019. Abstract submission deadline is February 15, 2019. For more information, visit http://militarygeoscience.org/conference-2019/

New grad reps elected: Saumya Vaishnava and Jamie Peeler will join Mark Simpson, Peter Backhaus, and Jiawei (jade) Huang to continue all the work and services for graduate students in the department.


Lilian Pintea, the Jane Goodall Institute
Mapping Forests and Spirits to Secure a Future for People and Chimpanzees

There is a growing torrent of geospatial data on ecosystems, species and threats from a variety of remote sensing, GIS, mobile and cloud platforms. However, we need a standard framework for converting these big data into meaningful, useful and actionable information for decision makers. In this presentation I will use more than twenty years of conservation action planning, village land use planning and participatory action research efforts by the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania and Uganda, to discuss how geospatial technologies interact with traditional knowledge and local decision making processes to support people livelihoods and protect chimpanzees.

  • Friday, Jan. 18
  • 3:30 p.m. in 319 Walker Building, Coffee and refreshments
  • 4:00 in 112 Walker Building, Lecture
  • Coffee Hour To Go Webcast


Lorraine Dowler to receive AAG 2019 Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award

The AAG bestows an annual award recognizing an individual geographer, group, or department, who demonstrates extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments and in guiding the academic or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues. The late Susan Hardwick was the inaugural Excellence in Mentoring awardee. The Award was renamed in her honor and memory, soon after her passing.

Dr. Lorraine Dowler not only mentors at all levels (early career faculty, her own students, and students that were/are not her own-outside her university), but is a strong advocate for her advisees, the greater student body (undergraduate and graduate), and the AAG community. As mentioned in one of her letters of support, she is committed to the holistic development of her advisees, while another notes that she pays particular attention to the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of those with whom she interacts, especially new faculty learning to balance the demands of academia. Outside of her tireless advocacy for students and colleagues, she continues to advise, research, publish, and contribute to the field of geography. She continues to go over and beyond what is expected.

SWIG Essay Contest call for submissions

The Jennifer Fluri and Amy Trauger 2019 Student Essay and Creative Works Competition is now open! This is the fifth annual competition run by Penn State’s SWIG. We invite undergraduate and graduate students from all institutions and disciplines to contribute using any of a variety of potential formats. Submissions are due March 23, 2019. For more information and to submit your work, visit: sites.psu.edu/swig/the-jennifer-fluri-and-amy-trauger-student-essay-and-creative-works-competition/


Human interpretation of trade-off diagrams in multi-objective problems: Implications for developing interactive decision support systems

Oprean, D., Spence, C., Simpson, M., Miller, R., Bansal, S., Keller, K., Klippel, A. Proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
The growing need for efficient and effective human decision-makers warrants a better understanding of how decision support systems (DSS) guide users to improved decisions. Decision support approaches utilize visual aids to assist decision-making, including trade-off diagrams. These visualizations help comprehension of key trade-offs among decision alternatives. However, little is known about the role of trade-off diagrams in human decision-making and the best way to present them. Here, we discuss an empirical study with two goals: 1) evaluating DSS interactivity and 2) identifying decision-making strategies with trade-off diagrams. We specifically investigate the value of interface interactivity and problem context as users make nine increasingly complex decisions. Our results suggest that problem context and interactivity separately influence ability to navigate trade-off diagrams.


Jan 19

Food-Energy-Water | Paris to Pittsburgh | Research round-up


Jiayan Zhao VR demo at AGU

Jiayan Zhao (right) demonstrates the use of VR technology and the Thrihnukagigur Volcano geology lesson at the Penn State reception during the American Geophysical Union fall 2018 meeting in December.


SWIG will be hosting a workshop from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Eberly College of Science annual STEM Career Day for Young Women, “ENVISION: STEM Career Day for Young Women” on Sat., January 26, in the Huck Life Sciences Building. For more information see: https://science.psu.edu/outreach/special-programs/ENVISION/

Zachary Goldberg has reviewed the book, One Straw Revolution, in the Graduate Journal of Food Studies.

SWIG would like to extend a huge thank you to all who contributed to the Centre Safe Holiday Sponsorship Program this year. We raised a total of $300 (far exceeding our goal of $250!) to support the family we were paired with for the program.


Please join us on January 18 for the spring semester opening Coffee Hour featuring Lilian Pintea, PhD, Vice President of conservation science at the Jane Goodall Institute. For genreal information on Coffee Hour, see:


Interdisciplinary research proves essential when working on Food-Energy-Water

Erica Smithwick’s National Science Foundation-funded training grant, Landscape-U, is a component

Penn State researchers from all disciplines are getting involved in the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus. Considering the intricate nature of FEW, many researchers believe that an interdisciplinary approach is critical.

FEW is complex because each facet is critical and is tightly linked to the others. A change in one facet will likely trigger a change in one or both of the others, making solutions more difficult to determine.

Paris to Pittsburgh documentary film by National Geographic

National Geographic Documentary Films distributed Bloomberg Philanthropies’ second film, Paris to Pittsburgh, starting on Wednesday, December 12 in the U.S. and  globally in 172 countries and 43 languages. Paris to Pittsburgh brings to life the impassioned efforts of individuals who are battling the most severe threats of climate change in their own backyards. Set against the national debate over the United States’ energy future — and the Trump administration’s explosive decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement — the film captures what’s at stake for communities around the country and the inspiring ways Americans are responding.


Capital and conscience: poverty management and the financialization of good intentions in the San Francisco Bay Area

Emily Rosenman
Urban Geography
DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2018.1557465
Social impact investing differentiates itself from traditional investing by claiming to create public social benefits alongside private profits. Globally, municipal governments are increasingly looking to this model to fund urban social services and poverty management. Through a case study of social impact investing in affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I deconstruct the financial and ideological underpinnings of this model to understand how private profits are drawn from local geographies of impoverishment. Analyzing social impact investing as a poverty politics reveals how it places preexisting, state-subsidized systems of poverty management into social impact investing portfolios, dividing impoverished spaces into new hierarchies of deservingness by incorporating private investors’ visions of what will help low-income tenants. But these processes also fail to subsume social life within housing financed in this manner, as tenant practices subverting those idealized by the state and investors persist alongside the generation of private profits.

In situ measurements of surface winds, waves and sea state in polar lows over the North Atlantic

Andrew M. Carleton
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
DOI: 10.1029/2017JD028079
Polar low (PL) storms are an important feature of the wintertime sub‐synoptic scale atmospheric circulation of middle and higher latitude ocean areas. They can generate hazardous conditions impacting coastal and marine activities like fishing, transport and oil extraction. However, there are few studies available of individual PL systems based on high resolution maritime surface data. Accordingly, the meteorological impacts of 29 PLs have been investigated for the 14 winters 1999‐2013, using in‐situ measurements at 8 stations in the Norwegian and North Seas. On average, the highest wind speed (WS) and significant wave height (SWH) occur following the minimum in sea level pressure (SLP) of the PL, respectively 1 and 3 hours after its passage. The strongest WS averages 17.1 m/s and the highest peak SWH is 6.3 m, but these can reach 31 m/s and 11 m, respectively. PL characteristics of system horizontal extent, propagation speed, and the larger‐scale atmospheric circulation environment, explain the large inter‐case differences. Large, multiple, and fast moving PLs within a meridional circulation environment appear to generate stronger near‐surface winds and higher waves than do small, single and slow moving PLs within a zonal circulation. Multiple systems may have the largest impacts (e.g., SWH > 8 m), although a larger sample size is required to confirm this possibility. The impacts of PLs on sea surface temperature (SST) are quite small and are difficult to interpret separate from the background SST variation. The observed SST decrease may be mainly caused by the cold air outbreak within which the PL is embedded; indeed, a positive SST minus air temperature (AT) anomaly is found during the 24 hours preceding the passage of PL vortices, indicating enhanced low‐level atmospheric instability.

Spatial dynamics of tree group and gap structure in an old-growth ponderosa pine-California black oak forest burned by repeated wildfires

Natalie C. Pawlikowski, Michelle Coppoletta, Eric Knapp, Alan H.Taylor
Forest Ecology and Management
Knowledge of how tree groups and gaps are formed and maintained in frequent-fire forests is key to managing for heterogeneous and resilient forest conditions. This research quantifies changes in tree group and gap spatial structure and abundance of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and California black oak (Quercus kelloggii) with stand development after wildfires in 1990 and 1994 in an old-growth forest in the Ishi Wilderness, southern Cascades, California. Forest demography and tree group and gap structure were quantified by measuring, mapping, and aging trees in six 1-ha permanent plots in 2000 and 2016. Tree recruitment, mortality, and growth were estimated using demographic models and spatial characteristics including gap structure were identified using an inter-tree distance algorithm and the empty space function. Potential fire behavior and effects in 2016 were estimated to determine if the current forest would be resilient to a wildfire in the near future.

Smallholders’ uneven capacities to adapt to climate change amid Africa’s ‘green revolution’: Case study of Rwanda’s crop intensification program

Nathan Clay, Brian King
World Development
Development programs and policies can influence smallholder producers’ abilities to adapt to climate change. However, gaps remain in understanding how households’ adaptive capacities can become uneven. This paper investigates how development transitions—such as the recent adoption of ‘green revolution’ agricultural policies throughout sub-Saharan Africa—intersect with cross-scale social-environmental processes to unevenly shape smallholders’ adaptive capacities and adaptation pathways. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative material from a multi-season study in Rwanda, we investigate smallholder adaptation processes amid a suite of rural development interventions. Our study finds that adaptive capacities arise differentially across livelihood groups in the context of evolving environmental, social, and political economic processes. We show how social institutions play key roles in shaping differential adaptation pathways by enabling and/or constraining opportunities for smallholders to adapt livelihood and land use strategies. Specifically, Rwanda’s Crop Intensification Program enables some wealthier households to adapt livelihoods by generating income through commercial agriculture. At the same time, deactivation of local risk management institutions has diminished climate risk management options for most households. To build and employ alternate livelihood practices such as commercial agriculture and planting woodlots for charcoal production, smallholders must negotiate new institutions, a prerequisite for which is access to capitals (land, labor, and nonfarm income). Those without entitlements to these are pulled deeper into poverty with each successive climatic shock. This illustrates that adaptive capacity is not a static, quantifiable entity that exists in households. We argue that reconceptualizing adaptive capacity as a dynamic, social-environmental process that emerges in places can help clarify complex linkages among development policies, livelihoods, and adaptation pathways. To ensure more equitable and climate-resilient agricultural development, we stress the need to reformulate policies with careful attention to how power structures and entrenched social inequalities can lead to smallholders’ uneven capacities to adapt to climate change.

Livelihood Dynamics Across a Variable Flooding Regime

King, B., Yurco, K., Young, K.R. et al.
Human Ecology
Variability in environmental phenomena such as fire, flooding, and weather-related events can have significant impacts for social and environmental systems and their coupled interactions. Livelihoods systems reliant on the natural environment can be disrupted or eliminated, while associated governance regimes require negotiation to ensure equitable and sustainable management responses. These patterns can be particularly pronounced within areas prone to flooding, as these sites can experience variability in the location, timing, amount, and duration of flooding events. While research within the social and natural sciences has evaluated these dynamics within flooding regimes, the coupled interactions can be underemphasized even though they are integral in producing livelihood systems and possibilities for environmental management. This paper details research conducted from 2011 to 2016 in five villages located in different locations within the Okavango Delta of Botswana. We report the findings from qualitative interviewing and livelihood mapping activities that are integrated with remote sensing analysis to provide concrete empirical detail on the variability of flooding and resulting variations in perception and livelihood responses. The paper demonstrates that flooding dynamics vary at discrete locations and produce diverse perceptions that are tied to livelihood adjustments in place-specific ways. These patterns are also embedded in regional and global processes that have significant implications for household vulnerability within socio-ecological systems strongly impacted by local and distant climatic and hydrological drivers of change.

Augmenting geovisual analytics of social media data with heterogeneous information network mining—Cognitive plausibility assessment

Alexander Savelyev, Alan M. MacEachren
This paper investigates the feasibility, from a user perspective, of integrating a heterogeneous information network mining (HINM) technique into SensePlace3 (SP3), a web-based geovisual analytics environment. The core contribution of this paper is a user study that determines whether an analyst with minimal background can comprehend the network data modeling metaphors employed by the resulting system, whether they can employ said metaphors to explore spatial data, and whether they can interpret the results of such spatial analysis correctly. This study confirms that all of the above is, indeed, possible, and provides empirical evidence about the importance of a hands-on tutorial and a graphical approach to explaining data modeling metaphors in the successful adoption of advanced data mining techniques. Analysis of outcomes of data exploration by the study participants also demonstrates the kinds of insights that a visual interface to HINM can enable. A second contribution is a realistic case study that demonstrates that our HINM approach (made accessible through a visual interface that provides immediate visual feedback for user queries), produces a clear and a positive difference in the outcome of spatial analysis. Although this study does not aim to validate HINM as a data modeling approach (there is considerable evidence for this in existing literature), the results of the case study suggest that HINM holds promise in the (geo)visual analytics domain as well, particularly when integrated into geovisual analytics applications. A third contribution is a user study protocol that is based on and improves upon the current methodological state of the art. This protocol includes a hands-on tutorial and a set of realistic data analysis tasks. Detailed evaluation protocols are rare in geovisual analytics (and in visual analytics more broadly), with most studies reviewed in this paper failing to provide sufficient details for study replication or comparison work.

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