Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Like a bird! The world from above

The world from above

One of the incredible changes resulting from the georevolution is that community is now seeing the world from above through all-pervasive satellite imagery, aerial photography and website based GIS platforms. Here are just some amazing sites that enable us to see the world from above vertically and obliquely.
A selection of photos from the world's premier aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

* Earth from above exhibition
In 2000, his "Earth from Above" free exhibition was set up on numerous big posters on the gates of Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris. It then travelled worldwide from Lyon to Montreal, to 150 cities and was visited by 120 million people. "Earth From Above" is the result of the aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand's five-year airborne odyssey across six continents. It's a spectacular presentation of large scale photographs of astonishing natural landscapes. Every stunning aerial photograph tells a story about our changing planet. Here is a collection of Yann Arthus-Bertrand amazing images.

Freeways in Los Angeles, USA

* 'From above' with Twitter tags
Photographer Eric Fischer turned a lot of heads last year with his Flickr set that used the site's geotags to map various cities. Yesterday, he posted a new set on his Flickr stream, illustrating where in the United States, Europe, and the world people tend to use Twitter, and where they tend to use Flickr. The red dots indicate Flickr posts, and the blue, Twitter. One might not necessarily expect to see a lot of difference between the two, but once you get the visual it's stunning and, in parts, pretty stark. Below is the U.S. map, where more Flickr users have tagged the mountains in the west but more Twitter users seem to be operating in the Southeast. Notice how the cities and main highways facilitate both, but there's that band of relative darkness running through the central states.

* Ecology from above
A TED Talk fro Ed Asner, describing how spatial technology is used to study the ecology and geography of an area. He uses a spectrometer and high-powered lasers to map nature in meticulous kaleidoscopic 3D detail — what he calls “a very high-tech accounting system” of carbon. In this fascinating talk, Asner gives a clear message: To save our ecosystems, we need more data, gathered in new ways.

* The Earth from above with Google
Google through their Google Earth platform believe that technology can help people across the world realise the impact of their actions towards the environment and contribute to making the world a better place.

* Earth Day images
In honor of Earth Day, The Atlantic magazine website gathered a collection of scenes of Earth from above, from vantage points we don't see in everyday life. These scenes help show the Earth as a larger system and demonstrate the extent to which human activity has affected it. 

* Britain from the air
Although not modern 'from above' technology, the 'Britain from the air' project is a great example of using aerial photography to show landscape and urban change.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who to believe? Another current contentious resource use issue for students to explore

Image above: The resource issue of dredging to develop a coal port at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Related links to Spatialworlds
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Background on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is responsible for ensuring the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – one of the world's greatest natural treasures - is protected for the future.

An ecosystem based approach is used, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is widely recognised as one of the best managed marine protected areas in the world.
The Marine Park is a multiple-use area that supports a range of communities and industries that depend on the Reef for recreation or their livelihoods. Tourism, fishing, boating and shipping are all legitimate uses of the Marine Park.
The entire Marine Park is covered by a Zoning Plan that identifies where particular activities are permitted and where some are not permitted.
The Zoning Plan separates conflicting uses, with 33 per cent of the Marine Park afforded marine national park status where fishing and collecting is not permitted.
In high use areas near Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, special Plans of Management are in place in addition to the underlying Zoning Plan,
In addition, other Special Management Areas have been to created for particular types of protection, such as the Dugong Protection Areas.

The GBRMPA coordinates a range of activities to protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef. They are focused on 12 broad management topics:

This all sounds great as a way to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is sustained as a valuable environmental and heritage resources for all Australians, and as a World Heritage listed area, for the world. However as is often the case, the Great Barrier Reef is also an area with competing and  conflicting demands in the areas of transport, mining and tourism, to name just a few. Over recent years there has been a decline in the health of the Great Barrier Reef and serious threats now face the ecology of the reef into the futureABC Four Corners on 18 August 2014 highlighted the latest controversy created by the plan to dredge a coal port at Abbot Point. 

Background on the dredging and dumping for a Coalport in Great Barrier Reef area

The nub of this issue is that in December 2013, Greg Hunt, the Australian environment minister, approved a plan for dredging to create three shipping terminals as part of the construction of a coalport at Abbot Point. According to corresponding approval documents, the process will create around 3 million cubic metres of dredged seabed that will be dumped within the Great Barrier Reef marine park area. On 31 January 2014, the GBRMPA issued a dumping permit that will allow three million cubic metres of sea bed from Abbot Point, north of Bowen, to be transported and unloaded in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 

Potential significant harms have been identified in relation to dredge spoil and the process of churning up the sea floor in the area and exposing it to air. New research shows the finer particles of dredge spoil can cloud the water and block sunlight, thereby starving sea grass and coral up to distances of 80 km away from the point of origin due to the actions of wind and currents. Furthermore, dredge spoil can literally smother reef or sea grass to death, while storms can repeatedly re-suspend these particles so that the harm caused is ongoing.  It is also proposed that a disturbed sea floor can release toxic substances into the surrounding environment.

Commentators say that the decision by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has shocked and angered the scientific community. There seems to be deep divisions between the scientists and bureaucrats behind the decision. It seems that the dumping was approved despite previous recommendations from senior scientists that it be rejected.

"That decision has to be a political decision. It is not supported by science at all, and I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard." - Dr Charlie Veron, marine scientist 

The Chairman of the Marine Park Authority denies the decision was political and the Federal Environment Minister insists it will take place under the strictest environmental conditions.

As you will see in the video, this certainly is an interesting and confusing debate re: the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and the development of infrastructure for resource development. The issue deconstruction template attached may be useful for students to clarify their thinking on the issue.

What will students think should happen?

Here are some great resources on the issue:

* ABC online  
* ABC News, June 2014 on Abbot Point
* ABC News, July 2014
* Mining Australia website 
* Sydney Morning Herald, March 2014
* Sydney Morning Herald, May 2014
* The conversation  
* Australian Marine Conservation Society
* Canberra times, August 2014
* The Australian, December 2013


... and many more

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Elucidating history through spatial technology

Image above:The South Australian RSL Virtual Memorial

Related links to Spatialworlds  
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website    

Where am I??  

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Some history and geography entwinement examples from South Australia

 A previous Spatialworlds posting focussed on the entwinement of history and geography. This posting provides two excellent practical ways organisations have used spatial technology to elucidate history.

* History of the Port Adelaide and Enfield Council through an interactive map  
The site allows visitors to interact with the map, locating buildings of historical interest and providing some fascinating historical information. 

* The South Australian Virtual War Memorial
The RSL Virtual War Memorial is to be the definitive resource and repository for anyone wanting to research, study or contribute to the commemoration of  South Australia's and the Northern Territory's socio-military history. The site contains an interactive map section which allows visitors to locate Memorials around the world and to read the inscriptions.

* HistGeog workshop

Whilst talking about the connection between geography and history, I thought it might be worthwhile directing you to Geogaction, my professional learning blog. This morning I conducted a workshop titled 'HistGeog' where I presented ideas on how to connect the Australian Curriculum for geography and history. The powerpoint and the links to resources on the posting may be a help to those thinking about how we can entwine the two learning areas in the curriculum and in turn, the classroom.