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GIS Center Update: Summer Research

What do hazardous waste facilities, knotweed, old maps, and Adirondack logging dams have in common? Nothing, except that they were all mapping subjects of the Summer Faculty/Student Research Collaborations in the Skidmore GIS Center during the summer.  

Katarra Peterson '09 and Mary Rynasko '11, under the guidance of Dr. Rik Scarce (Sociology), took on mapping hazardous facilities in their project, "Exploring Environmental Justice along the Hudson River."  With these mapped, the students focused on demographic variables within one mile of the facilities to determine counts and percentages of population subgroups.  The project was the basis of a hands-on workshop in the GIS Center on July 23rd for college faculty from throughout the Hudson Valley Region, as part of a stop on the River Summer 2008 field course offered by the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities.  

Emily Rollinson '09 and Dan von Allmen '09 worked on the project "Distribution and Ecology of Riparian Invaders in the Upper Hudson Watershed" under the direction of Dr. Josh Ness (Biology, Environmental Studies).  They mapped the distribution of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), an exotic plant that invades river banks and displaces native vegetation.  They documented invasions within eight major watersheds in the upper Hudson watershed, and used topographic maps and GIS to infer why invasions were disproportionately common in particular watershed and within specific microhabitats in streams in those watersheds.

Historic maps were the subject of the research done by Lyndsay Strange ‘09 in her project “Capturing and Preserving History in the Upper Hudson River Valley: Development of a Historic Map Database.”  Working with the assistance of Alex Chaucer, the GIS Instructional Technologist, the project utilized GIS for georeferencing historic maps to present day aerial photos and vector data to see the landscape changes over time.  In addition, innovations in document imaging platforms and scanning techniques were evaluated for fragile historic documents.

Matthew Shrensel ‘09, under the advisement of Dr. Kyle Nichols (Geosciences), used GIS to assist in locating logging dams in their project, “Logging, Dams, and Jams: What was the Geomorphic Impact of Adirondack Logging on the Hudson River Headwater Streams?” They georeferenced old maps in GIS to locate over 80 potential dam locations and compile a database for future research.  They also used NASA’s World Wind to identify potential dam sites and utilized GPS to field verify a sample of the sites.

- Alex Chaucer, GIS Instructional Technologist, Academic Technologies