Tag Archive | Water

Full Extent of Africa’s Groundwater Resources Visualized for the First Time

by Stuart Kent, New Security Beat, Woodrow Wilson Center, May 28, 2012

“In Africa, groundwater is the major source of drinking water and its use for irrigation is forecast to increase substantially to combat growing food insecurity,” yet, a lack of quantitative data has meant that “groundwater storage is consequently omitted from assessments of freshwater availability,” according to new research in Environmental Research Letters. The authors of “Quantitative Maps of Groundwater Resources in Africa,” Alan Macdonald, Helen Bonsor, and Brighid Dochartaigh of the British Geological Survey, and Richard Taylor of University College London, used estimates compiled from geologic data and 283 aquifer summaries from 152 different publications to quantitatively visualize, for the first time, the extent of Africa’s groundwater resources. …

For full of text, please visit New Security Beat: Eye On: Full Extent of Africa’s Groundwater Resources Visualized for the First Time.

USGS Requests Public Input on Six Science Strategies


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The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is requesting public input on its six science strategies: Ecosystems; Energy and Minerals; Environmental Health; Global Change; Natural Hazards; and Water. These strategies will used in setting priorities and implementation planning for future research activities at the agency, which was reorganized in 2010.

Please weigh in on the draft and questions here.

Some of the USGS programs that support these science strategies include:

Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
The Federal Geographic Data Committee is an interagency committee that promotes the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis. This nationwide data publishing effort is known as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The NSDI is a physical, organizational, and virtual network designed to enable the development and sharing of this nation’s digital geographic information resources. FGDC activities are administered through the FGDC Secretariat, hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Land Remote Sensing (LRS)
The Land Remote Sensing Program operates the Landsat satellites and provides the Nation’s portal to the largest archive of remotely sensed land data in the world, supplying access to current and historical images. These images serve many purposes from assessing the impact of natural disasters to monitoring global agricultural production.

National Geospatial Program
The National Geospatial Program (NGP) organizes, maintains, and publishes the geospatial baseline of the Nation’s topography, natural landscape, and built environment.  The baseline is The National Map, a set of databases of map data and information from which customers can download data and derived map products and use web-based map services.  Through the Geospatial Liaison Network, the NGP works with cooperators to share the costs of acquiring and maintaining these geospatial data. The National Atlas of the United States of America®, the small-scale component of The National Map, fosters an understanding of broad geographic patterns, trends, and conditions useful for national assessments. The Federal Geographic Data Committee promotes consistent data and metadata standards, system interoperability, and cross-government best business practices for geospatial resources, policies, standards, and technology as part of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

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RFF Value of Information Workshop Report Released

Blue Marble composite images generated by NASA...

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The Value of Information: Methodological Frontier and New Applications for Realizing Social Benefit

by Molly Macauley and Ramanan Laxminarayan,  Resources for the Future, Published August 2010

This report highlights the major conclusions and outcomes from a workshop held June 28–29, 2010 at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC, on methodological frontiers and new applications of valuing information and its social benefit. The participants provided answers to a series of questions: What is meant by “value of information”? When does information have value? What are state-of-the-practice methods to ascribe value to information? Participants also identified steps to ascribe, measure, and communicate value.

The workshop was distinctive in serving as the first multi-day, in-depth meeting to convene experts in the two disparate communities of social science and Earth science to identify and critique state-of-the-practice methods for ascribing value and societal benefit to information. The workshop outputs include specific recommendations and actions to enhance and further demonstrate the value of information from public investments, particularly those in Earth science applications.

A main finding is that investment in Earth observations confers many benefits but a lack of tools and resources has caused these benefits to be less well measured and communicated than warranted. The report includes suggestions attendees offered as next steps to enhance modeling, evaluation, and communication of the array of benefits.

Report PDF can be found at: http://www.rff.org/Publications/Pages/PublicationDetails.aspx?PublicationID=21266

Interestingly, one participant of the workshop remarked on “the difference between public and private sector perspectives.  In the public sector (and academia), the primary questions seem to concern the overall value of information.  To be useful in the private sector, such questions must be augmented by knowledge of how that value is allocated throughout the supplier-customer chain.”

For commentary by one of the workshop’s steering committee members, Bill Hooke, visit his blog posting Knowing What the Earth Will Do Next? Priceless.

**Also, check out the comment posted by Bill Gail, another workshop steering committee member,  by clicking the comment link right under the title at the very top of the post.

Geospatial Technology, Diplomacy and Development


Geospatial Information Systems: Powerful Tools for Diplomacy and Development

Office of the Science and Technology Adviser, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
March 9, 2009

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are an increasingly vital resource for national security, development, public health, the environment, and other aspects of foreign policy. A GIS integrates remotely sensed satellite or aerial imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS) information, and many other kinds of geographically referenced data, using mapping software to create a visually accessible display. For example, crop yields, prices, and socioeconomic data can all be factored into assessments of food security across a particular region. Policy makers are using such tools for:

  • Urban planning for transportation, water, energy, sanitation, land use and service delivery
  • Environmental monitoring of deforestation, desertification, illegal logging, land use and land cover
  • Natural resource management, including freshwater and marine ecosystems
  • Delineation and mapping of watersheds, resolving water disputes across international boundaries
  • Public health, mapping of disease transmission for prevention and treatment efforts
  • Emergency preparedness and disaster response
  • Monitoring and planning for effects of climate change
  • Monitoring human rights violations
  • Verifying arms control and nonproliferation treaties

… for full text of article, visit: http://www.state.gov/g/stas/2009/120150.htm


Also visit the following websites:

American Association for the Advancement of Science  (AAAS)  Science and Human Rights Program:


Operating under the auspices of URISA, GISCorps coordinates short term, volunteer based GIS services to underprivileged communities

Vision & Goals

GISCorps volunteers’ services will help to improve the quality of life by:

  • Supporting humanitarian relief.
  • Enhancing environmental analysis.
  • Encouraging/fostering economic development.
  • Supporting community planning and development.
  • Strengthening local capacity by adopting and using information technology.
  • Supporting health and education related activities.

GISCorps implements URISA’s vision of advancing the effective use of spatial information technologies.

GISCorps makes available highly specialized GIS expertise to improve the well being of developing and transitional communities without exploitation or regard for profit.

GISCorps coordinates the open exchange of volunteer GIS expertise cooperatively among and along with other agencies.

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