Going Green: Students using GIS
Students at SUNY ESF are using GIS, or geographic information systems, to understand and solve environmental problems. Terry Ettinger has more.
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These students are learning GIS, that’s geographic information systems that are used to understand and solve environmental and social problems.
“It’s a computerized system for basically mapping the earth and better understanding all the processes that go on within the ecosystems as well as in terms of social processes, how populations spread across time, across our country. You can document that and then try to understand why are things moving across the landscape. What are the driving factors?” said Dr. Eddie Bevilacqua of SUNY ESF.
Dr. Eddie Bevilacqua says they collect the data for their research from government agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey and the Forest Service.
Bevilacqua said, “I have students who are looking at criminal activity on national forests, trying to map where it occurs and looking for hot spots and what is causing those hot spots to occur. We have other students looking at overall species distribution maps using U.S. Forest Service field plots to again understand where the species are either shifting over time or how does the growth rate of the different species vary across space.”
The key to the research is computer software that helps them manage the various sets of data.
“Using a paper map makes it difficult to actually look at multiple data sets, what we call layers, at the same time. But within a computer software program, we can look at individual factors one at a time and then the software allows us to overlay them,” Bevilacqua said.
Showing, for example, a crime hotspot in a national forest or movement of animal and plant life because of our changing climate.