Monday, November 29, 2010

Study Site: Cerrado, Brazil

The Cerrado region is a savanna that covers 20% of Brazil's interior. This hotspot is known for its woody plants, endemic birds and other wildlife, a prominent dry season and fire ecology. The Cerrado is unlike any other place in the world and within the past 50 years, the expansion of agriculture has brought human settlement into the region. Currently, human use has increased to 50% of the Cerrado region. The push for agriculture in the area is greatly endangering the Cerrado's native vegetation and wildlife. Research was conducted using a smaller sample of the Cerrado, Emas National Park to observe more closely, the influence agriculture has made in the region. In comparing Landsat images from 1989 to 2006, the natural vegetation of Emas National Park was surveyed, in studying the night light imagery of Brazil from 1992 to 2006, the movement of human settlement to the interior is shown and by tracking fire data around Emas National Park from 2001 to 2010 an increase in fires in the area can be observed.

The study site for our research project is the Cerrado region in Brazil. It is located in the center of Brazil, particularly in the states Goias and Minas Gerais. The Cerrado is the most extensive savanna/woodland, savanna and dry forest region in South America making up one fifth of Brazil's surface area (Oliveria). The Cerrado is the only hotspot of its kind, with its prominent dry season it has an impressive display of drought and fire adapted plants and endemic birds. It receives rainfall between October and April, the rest of the year is the dry season. Fires are common in the area, and is an important part of the Cerrado's ecology. Since the 1950's the Brazilian government encouraged it citizens to move into the interior of Brazil and in the 1970's and 1980's the Cerrado became an agricultural frontier. After soil restoration, the Cerrado region turned into the most productive and competitive area for crop production. The increase in agricultural production in the area has resulted in 37.3% of the Cerrado being converted to human use and 41.4% is used for pasture and charcoal production. Of the original 2,031,990 square kilometers, only 21%, 438, 910 square kilometers exists today, and less than 3% is under legal protection (Conservation International). The particular park being observed in our investigation of the impact of agriculture on the Cerrado is Emas National Park. Located in the states Goias and Mato Grosso, Emas National Park is under great threat by he effects of large scale agriculture. By measuring "greenness", studying fire data, and nightlight data, our research is to measure the effects of agriculture on the Cerrado through studying Emas National Park.

We compared the night light data of Brazil using data from 1992 and 2006. It can be seen that human settlement has dramatically increased in the interior of Brazil and moving into the Cerrado. This night light data is evidence that humans have settled in the Cerrado more and more each year, further endangering the habitat. FIRE Data
The data above and in the previous post illustrate Emas National Park and the surrounding areas, with fires from the month of September (during the peak of the dry season) depicted in each image. Fires are a natural component of the Cerrado ecosystem, playing an important role in the cycling of nutrients and the clearing of dry and dead debris, which paves the way for new growth.

The pattern of fire distribution throughout the study area is highly variable, but one can see a general increase in the number of fires throughout from 2001 until 2010. There are some discrepancies regarding the fire data attained because it does not specify how the fires started. Although fire is a natural occurrence in the Cerrado, fire is also a means of clearing the land for agriculture. The increase in fires from 2001 to 2010 could be a result of an increase in fires started by humans to clear for agriculture or it could be natural, or a combination of both is leading to an overall increase in fires in the region.

There is not an extensive amount of research conducted about the Cerrado outside of studies performed by Brazilian scientists, and those are in Portugese. We did however, find a study that is more broad than ours translated into English by the University of Brazil, Department of Ecology that researched the impact on soils and water as well as vegetation titled "Conservation of the Brazilian Cerrado."

This image is of Landsat satellite image, using NDVI to measure "greenness" and density slice to survey the green cover which is highlighted in blue.

Oliveria, Paulo. Marquis, Robert."Introduction: Development of Research in the Cerrados." The Cerrados Of Brazil: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Savanna. By Paulo Oliveira and Robert Marquis. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. Vii-12. Google Books. Web. 28 Nov. 2010. .

"Biodiversity Hotspots - Cerrado." Biodiversity Hotspots - Home. Conservation International. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. .

Silveira, Leandro, Flávio Henrique, G. Rodrigues, Anah Tereza De Almeida Jácomo, and José Alexandre F. Diniz Filho. "Impact of Wildfires on the Megafauna of Emas National Park, Central Brazil." Oryx 33.02 (1999): 108-13. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. .

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lab #8

These maps show the percentage of a certain race by county. The first map shows the percentage of people having origins in any of the Black racial groups in Africa, or categorize themselves as African-American, Afro American, Nigerian, or Haitian. It is seen that there is a light distribution of Blacks all over the country, a higher distribution in southern California as well as the California Bay Area, but the heaviest distribution of the Black population by far, is in the South.

The center map shows the percentage of Asian races by county. People in the Asian race group refers to people having any origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. It includes Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, or "Other Asian". The distribution of Asians across the country is not centered in any specific region. It is spread out more so that the other two maps. There appears to be a heavy Asian population all over California, in Northwest Washington, concentrated in some small counties in the middle of the country, and then a heavier concentration in the Northeast area from Massachusetts to Virginia, and then smaller concentrations again, scattered all over the Eastern coast.

The last map shows the distribution of "Some Other Races" was added to include people who were unable to identify with the following five categories: White, Black, Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. "Some other race" includes Moroccan, South African, Belizean, or Hispanic origin. The distribution of "some other races" is distributed lightly and evenly throughout the country, but concentrated heaviest in the West. The Southeast area from Texas to California, then up the California coast up to Washington shows the highest percentages of "Some other races".

The information provided by the census gives us an idea of the distribution of races in the United States. The maps show that California has the highest racial diversity, and the rest of the country to a lesser extent. When looking at the census information, I realized that a lot of people would have a hard time fitting themselves into a category of the 2000 census, therefore many people are bunched into this motley crew named "some other races".

My overall impressions of GIS are quite positive. Despite the long hours sitting in front of a screen, frustrated with the labs that are difficult and confusing at times, I found that when I finally knew what I was doing, I liked it so much that all those struggles made it worth it. I have found that I really enjoy the challenge and have become quite excited about it. I really enjoy being able to convey ideas through maps, and using and building maps in an assortment of ways. So much so, I have become a nerd showing my friends and family the maps I made. I am hoping I did well enough to claim GIS as my minor and look forward to hopefully becoming an amateur cartographer a year from now.