Monday, November 29, 2010

Caribbean Marine Atlas

The Coastal Zone of every Caribbean country from Bermuda to Suriname (an interesting geography question) and most Latin American ones is an important economic area. Many countries are of course particularly concerned about the effect of possible sea level rise due to Climate Change on their economic activity and their very survival.

The Caribbean Marine Atlas (CMA) Pilot Project began as a joint initiative of 9 countries in the Caribbean region including Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands. The purpose of the CMA is to identify, collect and organize available geo-spatial datasets into an atlas of environmental themes for the Caribbean region as a support service to the sustainable development and integrated management of marine and coastal areas in the region. Clearly, this would serve the Caribbean well.

UNESCO's International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has made available IOC Workshop Report No. 235, containing the reports of the 2010 CMA Review and Planning Workshop and the Saint Lucia Coastal Atlas Stakeholders Event.

The effort began in 2007, and one impression from the report is that it seems to be stumbling into the low wall of data - overlooked by higher decision-makers and those in charge of budgets and policies, but a wall to progress nonetheless - that characterises the Caribbean. A comparison between the Oregon Coastal Atlas and the CMA reveals the distance between the two efforts. Whilst the comparison may seem unfair, I do so to contrast the two data environments and their effect, and to ask the CMA and higher national and regional decision-makers whether the citizens of the Caribbean will ever truly have and benefit from the intended decision support tool?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lessons from Haiti

The recent Oct 2010 International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM2010) was devoted to assessing the experiences of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake response. Presentations from this conference are now online as 5-6 minute videos - note that this link is not permanent to these videos.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Belize Savannah Ecosystem Map

A project by Edinburgh University, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the University of Belize, Belize Botanic Gardens, Programme for Belize and other institutions is completing a Map of Savannah Ecosystems in Belize. The team combined SPOT and ALOS PALSAR data together in a Definiens workflow and also utilised IKONOS and LandSat imagery. Field checking is still ongoing and the final revision is expected out in Mar 2011, but the 1st and 2nd links mentioned above provide details of the work and results. The project is also building up local capacity in GIS in Belize, and a variety of resources should also become available for GI professionals to access in the coming year. This project follows one by the EEO in 2008 estimating carbon sequestration using radar imagery. It bears repeating that these EEO projects and those by CATHALAC on mangroves and forests are going to provide a Belleza body of current, quantitative work on remote sensing in the neotropics. Thanks Neil Stuart.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Radar & Carbon Storage

Correction Nov 14, 2010: Edinburgh Earth Observatory assessed the use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for assessing biomass of savannah woodlands and thereby estimating carbon content of these areas. A report explaining the methodology, which included ground-truthing, and results, is available on the RICS website - in summary, vegetation could be detected and its extent estimated but vegetation height was underestimated using radar imagery. The high plant biodiversity, differences in forest structure, wetness and cloud cover make the application of remote sensing in the tropics a different animal from that applied in higher latitudes, and this project and others in Belize, which have used remote sensing to assess mangroves and forests, are creating valuable knowledge about the application of the technology. Thanks Neil Stuart.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Recovery in Saint Lucia

It seems that Saint Lucia has set about getting broken infrastructure and other problems caused by Hurricane Tomas fixed. But I'm sure they could still use any assistance that can be offered - so contact the Saint Lucia NEMO and get maps of the situation on the MapAction website.

Friday, November 05, 2010

PhD Scholarship in Marine & Coastal Management

The Call for Applications for the Erasmus Mundus PhD in Marine and Coastal Management 2011-2014 edition has been announced. The deadline is 01 December 2010. Thanks GSDI.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Last Chance

Lots of trouble in the neighbourhood at the moment - Tomas has whacked Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Saint Lucia and is potentially taking aim at Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas. However, here's a small reminder that tomorrow is the last day to get a registration discount for the URISA 2010 Caribbean GIS Conference scheduled for Dec 6-10 in Trinidad.