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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lab #7

Reference map of the LA County Station fire

Thematic map of the LA County Station Fire and its proximity to nearby cities and schools

Some of the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were affected in the Station Fire in 2009 in a number of ways. One of the schools burned down, some of the schools were closed, some pushed back the first day of school, some were used as evacuation centers, and for some the fires interrupted sports summer practice. The thematic map I made illustrates the number of schools nearby the Station Fire.

The Los Angeles County Station Fire started in the southern portion of the Angeles National Forest and is one of the largest fires in L.A. county's modern history. The fire burned from August 26, 2009 until October 16, 2009 and burned 160,577 acres
during that time (InciWeb). The reference map I made shows the area that was burned and the thematic map I made shows the burn area, the cities nearby, and illustrates the schools nearby.

During the almost two month fire, residents that live near the effected area had to evacuate. My map shows the cities in closest proximity to the fire during August 29, 2009 to September 2, 2009 which are La Crescenta and La Canada- Flintridge, and on later dates evacuations were also made in Glendale and Altadena, as well as other cities (ABC news). Knowing what cities were affected was important because it helped identify the area of which schools were affected.

The fire started while children were still on summer break, so most children were unaffected by the fire, however the schools themselves were still in harm's way. One school was burned down in during the fire, called Gateway school which was located near the Angeles National Forest, and the La Canada Unified School District pushed back the first day of school until the fire was contained and the air quality was suitable for the schools to be reopened (LAist).

Most of the schools were being used as evacuation centers for the evacuees at La Canada High School, Jackson Elementary School in Altadena and other schools in the area (Daily News). Schools in the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified, La Canada Unified, and Glendale Unified were closed because of the fire. Schools in the Pasadena, Sunland and San Fernando Valley Unified School Districts were on summer break during the time of the fire, but all sports summer practices were canceled due to air quality (LATimesblogs).

"Station Fire Forces More Evacuations." Abc30. 29 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010.

"InciWeb the Incident Information System: Station Fire News Release." InciWeb the Incident Information System: Current Incidents. Web. 26 May 2010.

"Schools Remain Closed Because of Station Fire | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times." Los Angles Times. 1 Sept. 2009. Web. 8 June 2010.

"Station Fire Update: Evacuations, School Closures & Other Info - LAist." LAist: Los Angeles News, Food, Arts & Events. 30 Aug. 2009. Web. 26 May 2010.

"Wildfire Rages within Whisker of San Fernando Valley - LA Daily News." Home - LA Daily News. 30 Aug. 2009. Web. 8 June 2010.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lab #6

This is my map of a south east part of Louisiana. This map shows end of some mountains with rivers flowing from them. The mountains are not particularly tall, their slope doesn't vary too dramatically. The land next to the rivers is low and I believe it looks like a delta, which is appropriate in the area because if the map showed the area south of it, the Gulf of Mexico would be seen.

The extent information is:
top: 30.8128
left: -91.3355
right: -90.5922
bottom: 30.3472
Geographic coordinate system: ?

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Distance from Washington D.C., USA to Kabul, Afghanistan (in miles):
World Cylindrical projection: 10,099.35 miles
Mollweide projection: 10,155.94 miles
Equidistant Conic projection: 7,927.93 miles
Equidistant Cylindrical projection: 7,003.47 miles
Mercator projection: 10,160.03 miles
Gall Stereographic projection: 7,141.80 miles

Map projections are inevitable in the process of map making. Different projections allow maps to be represented on different planes. All map projections are distorted in some way, but depending on what they are being used for, some distortions are acceptable because they do not interfere with the information being collected, while using the same map for a different reason may make that map unacceptable.

Maps are made to preserve one or more of the following properties: shape, area, bearing, distance, scale, and direction. No map can preserve all of these properties, which is why many different projections are useful.

Different types of projections preserve different types of data. Conformal projections preserve local distance, Equidistant preserves distance, Equal Area preserves area. These projections vary in uses displaying different types of information accurately. One would have to research what type of information they want preserved and use the appropriate map to avoid incorrect information and discrepancies.

An example of discrepancies between maps can be shown by the differences in the distance of Washington D.C. and Kabul in the map projections. They vary from lengths as far as 3,000 miles in some comparisons.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lab #4

GIS has a lot of potential because of the need for spatial data. GIS manages and manipulates spatial data that merges cartography and database technology. It has enhanced the efficiency and analytical aspect of maps. GIS is used for urban planning, land surveying, navigation, and the like. This means that the earth is much better understood than before.

GIS allows land surfaces to be quantified, such as how much tropical rain forest or wetlands are in certain areas. It can also keep track of temperature, rainfall, and fire in these areas. GIS is used to recognize spatial relationships like what contains what and how close is that to that. Geocoding is also very useful by giving an x,y coordinate to street addresses, zip codes, etc. GIS is also good at representing change over time. This is useful in predicting global climate change, growing seasons of vegetation, geological processes, and human activities related to land management.

Some pitfalls of GIS is that it can be hard to use/ heard to learn how to use. Also GIS programs are expensive. The software and hardware needed to use GIS systems can often be hard to get because of this.

GIS is and can be very helpful, however the ArcGIS program is not my friend. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to finish this lab. The directions were precise and easy to follow, but it all being new, required a lot of back and forth with the program and tutorial. Saving everything in the proper place was a lot harder than I thought. I thought that when I saved it on my F: drive that everything was on there but it wasn't so I lost a lot of my charts. Zooming in and out completely shifted the map around which set me back a few minutes several times. I haven't been so frustrated in a while, learning this new technology is a lot harder than I expected. None of it was especially difficult so I don't know why I took so long, but taking so long made me feel sad at myself.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lab #3

View Los Angeles Dodgers Starter's Hometowns in a larger map

This map shows the hometown's of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting lineup.

Neogeography has a lot of potential. The maps that have been created by an average person can often be useful by perhaps showing more insight than cartographer who is just mapping for a location. It can include pictures, videos, reviews, descriptions, and other points of interest useful for the everyday person to find something in particular they are looking for.

However, looking at it from the other side, Neogeography has it's pitfalls. The fact that these maps are made by everyday people, who are inexperienced in map making, can have some negative consequences as well. The locations and information are more opinion-based than fact-based, and some of the information can be wrong because it is not monitored or checked for legitimacy. The same personal touch that can be useful, can be misleading at times. For instance, in my map I could have put the wrong hometown for any one of those people (I didn't!) but you would think it was true unless you checked for the information yourself.

The consequences of Neogeography are that in today's world you can find almost any location by the click of a phone/computer/GPS. Sites like Mapquest, Google Maps, and more informative sites using mashups like Yelp and Urban Spoon provide more information than people could have ever imagined 20 years ago. This new type of geography has provided the knowledge of GIS and the experience of the average person into a more helpful type of map making.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lab #2

1. What is the name of the quadrangle? Beverly Hills
2. What are the names of the adjacent quadrangles? Canoga Park, Van Nuys, Burbank, Topanga, Hollywood, Venice, Inglewood.
3. When was the quadrangle first created? 1966
4. What datum was used to create your map?
Vertical: North American Datum of 1927, Horizontal: North American Datum of 1983
5. What is the scale of the map? 1:24 000
6. At the above scale, answer the following:
a) 5 centimeters on the map is equivalent to how many meters on the ground?
1200 m on the ground
b) 5 inches on the map is equivalent to how many miles on the ground?
1.894 miles on the ground
c) one mile on the ground is equivalent to how many inches on the map?
2.64 inches
d) three kilometers on the ground is equivalent to how many centimeters on the map? 12.5 cm
7. What is the contour interval on your map? 20 ft
8. What are the approximate geographic coordinates in both
degrees/minutes/seconds and decimal degrees of:
a) the Public Affairs Building;
34°4'30" N, 118°26'15" W/ (34.075, -118.4375)
b) the tip of Santa Monica pier;
34°00'30" N, 118°30'00" W/ (34.008, -118.500)
c) the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir;
°7'05" N, 118°24'30"W/ (34.118, -118.408)
9. What is the approximate elevation in both feet and meters of:
a) Greystone Mansion (in Greystone Park);
b) Woodlawn Cemetery; 140ft/42.672m
c) Crestwood Hills Park; 625ft/190.5m
10. What is the UTM zone of the map? 11
11. What are the UTM coordinates for the lower left corner of your map?
3763000 N, 362000 E
12. How many square meters are contained within each cell (square) of the UTM gridlines?
1,000,000 meters squared
13. Obtain elevation measurements, from west to east along the UTM northing 3771000, where the eastings of the UTM grid intersect the northing. Create an elevation profile using these measurements in Excel (hint: create a line chart). Figure out how to label the elevation values to the two measurements on campus. Insert your elevation profile as a graphic in your blog.
Making charts is hard :[
14. What is the magnetic declination of the map?
14° E
15. In which direction does water flow in the intermittent stream between the 405 freeway and Stone Canyon Reservoir? it flows from north to south
16. Crop out (i.e., cut and paste) UCLA from the map and include it as a graphic on your blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lab #1

I found this map by searching for old maps of Los Angeles County on this website : This map shows contours for groundwater elevation in 1904. At this time there was so much groundwater in the area that much of the LA basin had flowing artesian wells. This map first grabbed my attention by its antique look and green shades. It had contour lines to shows the levels groundwater, lines that show streets of the time, and the Newport- Inglewood fault line. What I particularly found interesting about this map is that the name of my hometown, Downey, is represented very largely on the map. I wonder if that was the name of the water basin or if Downey played a large role in the county in 1905.

I found this map when searching for demographic maps on this website: The person who posted it was also interested in maps. This map shows the percentage of obese adults in the U.S. by state in 2007. The green shades represent the states with the smallest percentage of obesity, or leanest states, then peach is higher in percentage of obese adults with the percentage increasing with the darker shade of red. I found this map interesting because I have never seen a map of the fattest states. I had no idea Colorado was the leanest state and Mississippi had the highest obesity rate.

I found this map when searching for a map of population density and found it on this website: The people on the message board where wondering why there were no motorcycling shows in Denver, interesting, I know. They found that the population wasn't very dense in the area and perhaps that was why they didn't have a show there. This map shows the highest population density in dark blue and the lighter the color, the less population density. It also shows cities close to the U.S. borders in reddish colors. I found this map interesting because the population is dense around the coastal areas in the west, but towards the east the population density starts east of the Midwest and increases towards the coast from there. Also I was surprised to find how little most of the west coast is high in population density.