Category Archives: climate

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How GIS Can Help in Natural Disasters, Health, and Climate Change

GIS laters diagram Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have revolutionised our ability to understand and respond to some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information. It uses data that is attached to a unique location.

From its crucial role in the management of public health emergencies and natural disasters to their application in climate change research, GIS offer an invaluable perspective that transcends disciplinary and geographical barriers.

This news article delves into the multifaceted influence of GIS, in line with the annual celebration of GIS Day, highlighting its importance and global application.

Image source Wikiversity: https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/File:GIS_Layers.png

Innovation in Response to Health Emergencies and Natural Disasters

The adoption of GIS by organisations such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has marked a before and after in the response to public health emergencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GIS was fundamental in mapping the spread of the virus, analysing trends, and directing resources to the most affected areas. flood map

The ability to visualise the prevalence and transmission of the virus in real-time has been essential for formulating effective intervention and mitigation strategies.

Furthermore, the utility of GIS extends beyond health emergencies, proving to be equally vital in the management of natural disasters.

Specific tools developed for the prevention and management of these disasters allows the real-time identification of areas exposed to natural threats such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.

The integration of scientific and official data from organisations like NOAA and USGS, along with information on populations and critical locations, such as hospitals, has optimised disaster preparedness and response in the Americas region.

image source: USGS  https://blogs.upm.es/puma/wp-content/uploads/sites/50/2021/12/SIG-2-1024×571.jpg

About the use of GIS in Climate Change

In the field of climate change research, GIS has provided a lens through which we can examine the complexity of our planet. Researchers from disciplines such as geography, geology, ecology, oceanography, and meteorology have adopted GIS to collect and analyse remote sensing data, revealing crucial patterns and trends in the fight against climate change. data dashboard image

Climate change is currently characterised by an increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature and the intensification of extreme weather events. It represents one of the greatest global challenges of our time.

GIS allows scientists to monitor these changes with unprecedented precision, facilitating the analysis of large data sets to identify trends, assess impacts, and predict future climate scenarios.

GIS also plays a key role in the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change.

Climate change mitigation means avoiding and reducing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent the planet from warming to more extreme temperatures.

Whereas climate adaptation means taking action to prepare for and adjust to the current and projected impacts of climate change.

For example, GIS enables the modelling of the impact of different land use policies on carbon sequestration. It allows the assessment of the viability of renewable energy projects. It offers tools to visualise the potential impact of sea-level rise on coastal communities. Additionally, GIS tools provide a platform to effectively communicate the risks and solutions of climate change to a global audience, including policymakers, urban planners, and the general public.

Image source: Teaching the Future Project https://teachingthefuture.eu/climate-dashboards/

Looking to the Future: GIS and Sustainable Development

GIS mapAs years pass, the integration of GIS into decision-making related to sustainable development becomes increasingly critical and widespread.

GIS not only allow us to visualise and understand current challenges more effectively, but it also offers a solid foundation for future planning. This includes everything from natural resource management and biodiversity conservation to urban planning and emergency response.

The ability of GIS to integrate and analyse data from multiple sources and at various scales makes it an indispensable tool for addressing sustainable development goals.

The transformative impact of GIS on our society is undeniable. As we face increasingly complex environmental and public health challenges, GIS emerges as an essential tool in our arsenal.

Image source Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GvSIG_-_Geographic_Information_System.jpg

Sources:
https://www.paho.org/es/noticias/15-11-2023-tecnologia-sistemas-informacion-geografica-se-ha-convertido-factor-clave
https://www.ismedioambiente.com/sig_y_cambio_climatico/

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Outdoor lessons in geography and natural sciences with ArcGIS Survey123

As part of the GIS-T Project schools and teachers are using GIS to examine their environment.

Following the first training activity held in in Ghent and organised by the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO) and the second training event held in Bruges at the Belgian school partner Sint-Lodewijkscollege, this example from Riga Secondary School Nr.25  reports on outdoor activities and field study carried out by school pupils using  ArcGIS Survey 123.

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The study of the surrounding environment was carried out by the 9th abc class in the territory of the Ķengaraga promenade. The students had to perform various tasks: evaluate the plants growing in the research area in different ecosystems, assess whether the area is polluted and recognise invasive plant species in order to be able to conclude how alien plants have adapted to our climatic conditions.

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The obtained information was uploaded to ArcGIS Survey123 using mobile devices, where it is clearly collected submitted photos, answers, and location were marked on the mobile map app..

One of the tasks was to photograph the spring so that the group members could be seen.pupil photo

After completing the work, the teacher and class could see the completed work in the ArcGIS Survey123 environment, where the students’ responses were summarised in charts.

Class 7a performed two tasks on the field trip. Tested their physical fitness on the Ogre blue hill Giants track and studied the differences in the forest ecosystem, which had to be compared with the plants growing in the city. Photographed various plants growing in the forest for inclusion in ArcGIS Survey 123.

GIS-T to be disseminated at EGU24 and EUROGEO Conferences

EGU logoCrina Elefteriiu project coordinator from the Technical College UNIREA Pascani has had her poster abstract accepted for presentation at the European GeoSciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2024 which will be held in Vienna 14-19 April. It will be presented in session EOS 5.2 “Teaching Climate Change in Schools”. The poster will present the objectives and outcomes of the GIS-T project.

EGU imageThe EGU General Assembly 2024 brings together geoscientists from all over the world covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences.

The conference aims to provide a forum where scientists, especially early career researchers, can present their work and discuss their ideas with experts in all fields of geoscience.

Find out more 

porto photoKarl Donert and Luc Zwartjes from the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO) and Rafael de Miguel from the Universidad de Zaragossa will participate  and present the e-learning platform and training organised by the GIS-T Project at the Annual EUROGEO Meeting in May 2024. The conference theme “COMPROMISED GEOGRAPHY: SPREADING A NEW WORLD”, will be held in Porto, Portugal.

Find out more 

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Later in 2024, partners will also participate and present GIS-T at the 35th International Geographic Union conference, “Celebrating a world of difference“,  to be held in Dublin, Ireland in August, sharing the outcomes and achievements of the GIS-T project.

Find out more 

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Pupils GIS experience helps win competition prize

school photoStudents from the Technical College UNIREA Pascani have used GIS to undertake an analysis of local heritage,  classified at the national stage.

This work is part of the GIS-T ArcGIS work, hosted on the school ESRI platform.

The GIS analysis, made within the Erasmus+ programs, were entered in  the competition “Made for Europe”, XVI edition, by Union College.

The results won  Second Prize at the county stage of the national competition held on March 22nd, 2024 at the National College “Vasile Alecsandri” Ia sunti.

Many Congratulations to students and teachers!

Find out more

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Second GIS-T training event held in Bruges

photoThe GIS-T project held its second face-to-face training event  on 1-4 February 2024 at the Belgian school partner Sint-Lodewijkscollege. The school has approximately 1350 students.

The school  is a general secondary school located in Bruges, with a long tradition in European projects, with projects already underway before the start of the European Commission programmes in 1988. The school has exchange projects and projects related to content on art, language and science with almost every European country.

Sint-Lodewijkscollege has two main pillars in its field of study: languages (classical) and science. The teachers are very motivated, many of them are also pedagogical advisors, textbooks authors and lecturers in higher education.

photoTeachers at Sint-Lodewijkscollege organised two lessons that the participating teachers from the project were able to attend.

The first lesson had as a target group for class 6B students, the equivalent of grade 12, the class was divided into two groups. The two main themes were “Exploring a new city in Bruges” for teams of four students, and the “Flemish Plan for Energy and Climate.” Wind energy turbines for groups of two students. Concerning  the energy plan, pupils worked using the ArcGIS program, using data to create maps and visualisations to propose the placement of wind turbines in places where they are missing.

photoThe  second lesson emphasised a virtual exploration of the largest port on Earth, Rotterdam. The Netherlands was chosen because it has a much larger database in ArcGIS than that available for Belgium. The students worked practically in EduGIS, completing various worksheets, both in the program and with the help of the atlas or geographical materials.

The focus of the rest of the training  of the GIS FOR GIST OF EUROPE project was for the teachers involved to  prepare case studies on using GIS to teach about climate change. The main task of the participating teachers was to write such a study in their own language, respecting the structure established during the discussions in the training.

At the end of this activity the participating teachers re viewed the work and undertook an analysis of case studies proposed by teachers, concerning their applicability in the classroom.

The third training event will take place later in 2024 at the University of Zaragossa in Spain.

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Research suggests signs of an ocean circulation collapse

A research  study published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that the Gulf Stream system, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), could collapse as soon as 2025.AMOC diagram

AMOC plays a crucial role in carrying warm ocean water northwards, driving the Atlantic’s currents. However, increasing freshwater influx from melting ice caps, especially from Greenland, is disrupting these currents.

The consequences of an AMOC collapse would be catastrophic, affecting rainfall patterns in India, South America, and West Africa, increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe, raising sea levels on the eastern coast of North America, and endangering the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

The AMOC ocean currents are currently at its weakest state in the last 1,600 years due to global heating, and warning signs of a tipping point were observed and reported on in 2021.

The research suggests the collapse could occur between 2025 and 2095, with an estimated central point of 2050 if global carbon emissions are not reduced.

The study utilised sea surface temperature data to estimate the timing of the tipping point based on a type of tipping point called a “saddle-node bifurcation.”

Some scientists have expressed concerns about uncertainties in data and assumptions about tipping points, they agree that the potential collapse of AMOC should urge rapid cuts in carbon emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) most recent assessment concluded that AMOC would not collapse this century, but researchers argue that their models may be overly conservative.

The new study emphasises the need for further research and a collective effort to address the risks associated with AMOC collapse.

Find out more about AMOC and the risks it poses

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GIS-T teacher training uses GIS for climate education

university aerial photoThe first face-to-face teacher training event for GIS-T partners took place in Ghent, Belgium 27-31 August 2023.

The meeting, hosted by the European Association of Geographers (EUROGEO) was held in  the Geography department of Ghent University

Training sessions included:
Working with GISKnowledge of climate change (Karl Donert)
GIS and how is it being used in monitoring climate? (Karl Donert)
– Teaching about climate with GIS (expert teacher: Alistair Hamill)
Making videos – Video making activities for elearning (Luc wartjes)
– Making a GIS Climate Lesson – Geoinquiry /Geospatial model (expert teacher trainer Sophie Wilson)vlinder demo phptp
– Using GIS in Climate Change-A sample lesson plan (Rafael de Miguel)
– Creating a GIS Case study activity

A workshop about the VLINDER climate project was held. This illustrated how land use (e.g. buildings, forests,…) has a significant impact on the atmosphere. Given the increasing spatial resolution of atmospheric models, understanding the land-atmosphere interaction gains importance. But reliable weather observations are mostly limited to rural and open landscapes.

The VLINDER project, operational since December 2019, aims at filling this gap by building a region-wide climate monitoring network measuring in all landscapes present (rural, urban, industrial, forests, lakes,…). As a research group it is nearly impossible to initiate a network on such a scale.

By following a citizen science approach high schools are involved during the complete duration: they search for scientifically valuable measurement locations, they build and maintain the weather stations and they analyse the collected data.

Other training workshop activities included:
– Using Storymaps – BIOMAPS Erasmus Plus project
– Creating teaching resources – teacher activity with ArcGIS Dashboards
– GIS tools and teaching resources
– Climate data and simulations– using it
–  Usin ArcGIS Survey 123: collecting data in the field

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The next training event will take place and be hosted by the GIS-T school partner  Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges, Belgium in January 2024

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35 Years Of Climate Change Predictions

35 years since the first climate change predictions – were they alarmist?prediction graph

Since the 19th century, researchers have been warning about the global repercussions of human actions. James Hansen’s research group at  was the first to confirm that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions was altering the planet’s climate.

In their scientific article, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, they outlined how they developed the first predictive climate model that, taking into account greenhouse gas emissions, warned about the climate change that was already underway and the potential future scenarios.

At the time, this prediction was considered catastrophic and faced criticism from various sectors, including the oil industry, one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gasses emissions worldwide.

Were the early climate predictions really that inaccurate?

prediction diagramCritics of anthropogenic climate change often claim that climate predictions are consistently wrong and are frequently updated to downplay the issue. However, this perspective is misleading.

Climate predictions are indeed updated and refined as new data becomes available, reducing inherent uncertainties in modelling a complex, chaotic system like the climate. However, this doesn’t mean earlier predictions were wrong. They were made with less computing power, lower-quality data, and greater uncertainty about future emissions.

The key point is that climate responds differently to various emission scenarios, and predicting human behaviour regarding emissions is just as critical as forecasting climate responses.

In 1988, Hansen’s team analysed global average temperature data from 1958 to 1987 and developed three prediction scenarios—A, B, and C—projecting climate trends up to 2060.

Scenario A assumed a continuous increase in greenhouse gas emissions, extending the growth pattern seen in the 1970s and 1980s indefinitely, with an annual increase of 1.5%. This scenario predicted rapid and substantial climate change, with a temperature increase of 0.9°C above the 1951-1980 average by 2000, 1.5°C by 2020, 3°C by 2040, and up to 4°C by 2060.

Scenario B anticipated a more gradual stabilization in emissions, resulting in a slower but still consistent temperature rise. It predicted a 0.5°C temperature increase by 2000 and 1.2°C by 2020. Predictions for scenario B extended until 2028, reaching nearly 1.4°C of temperature increase, as uncertainties grew significantly beyond that year.

Scenario C resembled scenario B initially but assumed a drastic reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2000, eventually stabilizing around 2010 and fluctuating between 0.6°C and 0.8°C of temperature increase.

You can explore climate predictions for these scenarios for your location using the Teaching the Future Data Dashboard.

Reviewing Hansen’s Modelpredictions graph

To determine whether Hansen’s initial model was accurate or not, it’s insufficient to examine the predictions in isolation, as the three scenarios presented diverse outcomes. The key is to assess whether, based on actual greenhouse gas emissions in recent decades, the consequences align with Hansen’s predictions rather than deviating in unforeseen ways.

NASA global warming mapsIn 2020, researcher Zeke Hausfather from the University of California, Berkeley, along with collaborators, revaluated Hansen’s model. First, they analysed real observed data and they found that it closely resembled the predictions of scenario B, although with some irregularities. Recognizing variable emissions over the past three decades, researchers incorporated actual emissions data into Hansen’s climate model, resulting in remarkably accurate predictions.

Similar situations apply to subsequent models, not because they fail but because climate predictions depend on unpredictable global emissions. This leads to various scenarios, from extreme to intermediate, reflecting uncertain human behaviour. When emissions deviate from assumptions, climate outcomes also change, not due to model flaws but unpredictable human actions. Regular model updates use better data and computing power to adapt to changing circumstances, eliminating unfulfilled scenarios and projecting new ones.

Source: https://www.muyinteresante.es/naturaleza/61198.html

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Climate games and simulations for education

EUROGEO as a partner in the GIS-T project has identified different interesting visualisations that help present climate change issues and a created a gallery of innovative games and simulations related to climate change and teaching the future. games image

Recent research by Imperial College, London has shown that young people aged 16-24 are most likely to be particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change. This is partly because climate information is often hard to understand and follow, especially when suggested actions require changes in lifestyle.

study on climate change anxiety published in the Lancet found that children and young people demonstrated climate anxiety and widespread dissatisfaction with government responses in countries across the world. This is partly because because the climate crisis is so complex and lacks a clear solution. Education clearly has a role to play in dealing with this.

Games on the subject of climate change are well-suited to address the challenge of dealing with the complex issues involved, engaging people in the challenges involved.

Games can help communicate climate change in a manner that spurs involvement and motivates participants to take action. This is partly because many innovative design features of games can be integrated to blur the boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

The integration of game thinking and game mechanics in education has been described as gamification. One of the central advantages of gamification is the enjoyment created by making tasks more engaging, fun and interesting to complete. In turn, that increases people’s motivation to complete them.

Research carried out by Yee (2016) identified six different game elements that motivate gamers and encourage participation.

Action (e.g., objectives)
Social (e.g., competition)
Mastery (e.g., scoring)
Achievement (e.g., awards, rewards)
Immersion (e.g., role playing) and
Creativity (e.g., customisation)

It is important to realise therefore that games and game-based learning are valuable approaches to teaching the complexity of addressing climate change and part of the toolbox that educators can use to engage young people.

Visit the gallery to ty out the innovative simulations and games.