Wednesday is GIS Day. It’s the one day of the year that GIS, geographic information systems, is front and center. But wait a minute. That really isn’t true. Every time you look for an address, get directions, allow your current location to be used for an app or want to find the nearest store, you use GIS. It’s all working behind the scenes in your favorite app, but it is there.
A geographic information system lets you store, organize, manipulate and analyze data that has a geographic component. Do you have a list of addresses you want to map? GIS software lets you do that. Do you have census data by block group and you want to see to which groups your addresses belong? You can do that in GIS software. It lets you ask questions about your data and store the answers. And best of all, you can make maps. That’s my favorite part of the software!
These are maps I created using the ArcGIS software. The first 2 are just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The third map answers a frequent question we get in the Evans Map Room. The last map I made just because I like combining television and maps together.
Here is a map of different GIS Day events.
If you would like to see the maps in a larger format, you can visit the Berry Library Brickway across from the Baker-Berry circulation desk.
On Sunday, Geography Awareness Week began. The National Geographic Society sponsors this week to make everyone aware how all of our decisions have a geographic or geo-spatial component. Each year’s week has a specific theme. This year’s theme is “The Future of Food.” Parts of the world have an overabundance of food while in other parts people eke out a subsistence living. How do we feed a growing world population on less available land? Do you really know where your food comes from? Does food in movies interest you more than the plot? You can click here to see to different activities and writings which incorporate food.
Remember, geography is at work in your lives every day.
Next week is Halloween and my thoughts turn to … winter (ugh!). I am not a fan of winter but I tolerate it because I look forward to spring, summer and longer daylight hours. For all of you who are like me, here are a couple of maps to warn you or inform you.
In case you want to hear more news about winter, here is a video of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) predictions for the upcoming winter. Have fun in the snow!
Images courtesy of NOAA
Can you look at an image of a place and say where it’s from? Do different places have such distinct characteristics that you can identify them? Look at the image below. It shows locations from 4 different spots on Earth. Can you name the areas? Give it a try!
To see a larger version of the images, visit the Evans Map Room.
Images courtesy of the U. S. Geological Survey. Poster courtesy of Peter Allen.
Cartography is the art and science of map making. And maps are 2-dimensional objects for a 3-dimensional world. How can a map accurately show height? It does it through color and contour lines that denote elevation and height. But there are other map objects that can show all of the dimensions of a site.
For instance, look at a map of Mount Fuji in Japan. You see the representation of a mountain. But you can’t see how high the mountain really is.
Oblique view of Mount Fuji relief model
A relief model is a 3-dimensional map. If you look at the 2 views of the relief model of the same area, you see Mount Fuji rising from sea level. You see the snow and ice on its peak. You see how it dominates the landscape. You see the shadows the relief model creates and can imagine the ones at the actual site.
Straight down view of Mount Fuji relief model
Relief models can make maps come alive.
Photographs courtesy of Peter Allen.
Students who take Government 85.12, Military Statecraft in International Relations, are looking for ways to disrupt a country’s infrastructure and they use maps to do it. There are places in the world students want to invade (hypothetically) and they use resources in the Evans Map Room to find out about those places. They look at the hot spots of the world and figure out what they can do to make matters better or sometimes worse.
Here are a few examples of the places they have looked:
For more information about hot spots in the world, see Trouble Spots: the World Atlas of Strategic Information by Andrew Duncan.
Map images are courtesy of the Perry-Castaneda Map Library at the University of Texas, Austin.
Film Map: The History of Popular Film Set to the Art of Cartography
I’m often asked “What’s your favorite map?” The problem is I don’t have one. My favorite map is the one in front of me. But we just received a new map that got me to thinking about imaginary places on maps. We just got Film Map: The History of Popular Film Set to the Art of Cartography. All of the cartographic elements on this map are movie titles! But wait a minute. There is no place like that. That is what makes this a map of an imaginary place. The map is real but shows “places” that aren’t. We have a couple of other maps like that including Atlantis-Dekapotamia and Atlanto-Karelia or Dekapotamia. We also have a couple of atlases such as The Atlas of Middle Earth and An Atlas of Fantasy.
Maps created in the Evans Map Room have been featured in a couple of stories. From The Dartmouth student paper in a story by Tyler Bradford, Admiral William Fallon is talking about the United States foreign policy in the Middle East. The map he is using to illustrate his talk was created in the map room. The President’s Office needed a map of the Middle East and we created it from one of the base maps in ArcGIS.
Courtesy of Tyler Bradford & The Dartmouth
Professor James Stanford of the Linguistics Department was featured in a story on VPR.
He is standing in front of a poster Dennis Grady created. Professor Stanford came to the map room for help mapping points around the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. He provided the information for the points and we mapped them. You can also see one of four maps created in the map room.
Sometimes you want a map that is very focused on a geographic area because of your topic, but you can’t find that exact map online. We have a solution for you. Both the stand-alone software and ArcGIS online have a variety of base maps that allow for customization. Do you want a map that looks like National Geographic created it, or do you want something simpler? Or maybe a map of the new country of South Sudan? The Evans Map Room can help you. Come and see us!
L. M. Hall
South Sudan (June 2012)