Monday, October 21, 2013

Geospatial Science Certificate Program Brings Mapping to Graduate Students at UNH and Beyond

Geospatial technologies are everywhere. Really.

While the use of geographic information system (GIS), global positioning system (GPS) and remote sensing were once confined to a few fields of study (i.e., natural resources), the influence of geospatial technologies are felt in every college at the University of New Hampshire and by many potential employers around the world. Geospatial technologies are increasingly important in a wide range of academic disciplines and in surprisingly diverse group industries. Whether seeking to promote a small business through smartphone navigation apps, using interactive online maps to detail power outages from the latest winter storm, or conducting complex build-out analyses to examine future development scenarios, geospatial technologies provide information that powers many of the decisions we make personally and as a society. 

Example of a GIS buildout map based on CommunityViz 360 software

Do you speak geospatial-ese? You should.   

Having skills and knowledge in geospatial technologies has become a valuable tool in the arsenal of students and job-seekers alike. Geospatial technologies has been identified as a high growth industry by the US Department of Labor with an annual job growth rate of nearly 35%. How can you capitalize on this expanding field? If you are a student, make sure to get as much exposure to geospatial technologies as you can so you will enter the workplace with marketable skills. If you are a working professional, gain skills in geospatial technologies that make you better at your current job and more competitive when applying promotion or your next job.

GPS use can range from social media apps to professional surveying

Graduate students: Get plugged in to geospatial science at UNH

Academic courses involving geospatial science have been taught for years at the University of New Hampshire, providing top-notch education in the many areas of expertise of teaching and research faculty on campus. However, only recently have efforts been made to develop a way in which graduate students could easily discover all of the geospatial-related courses available at UNH. Launched in 2012, the UNH Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Science serves as an umbrella under which all graduate level geospatial science courses are listed and provides a manner for students to attain academic credentials in this important field of study. Unlike most graduate certificates programs which involve a set number of specific courses, students in the geospatial science certificate program are provided with numerous options for nearly all program requirements. This flexibility allows students from many fields of study to take courses appropriate to their area of interest.

Hands-on courses provide a great venue for learning GIS

OK, I'll bite on geospatial science. Where do I start?

The UNH Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Science is open to anyone with a bachelors degree. Consider yourself welcome whether you are a current graduate student at UNH, a graduate student at any other academic institution, or a working professional. Some courses are offered online, some are offered both online and on-campus, and some are held only at UNH in Durham, NH. If you're ready to apply for admission to the certificate program, check out this page for next steps.

If you're not ready to enroll in the certificate yet, you can register for any of the courses listed in the certificate program before you decide. We suggest GSS 800: Elements of Geospatial Science next offered in J-Term 2014 as a starting point for all students (in fact, it's one of the requirements!).  Another place to start would be our newest course GSS 896: Crowdsource Mapping coming up during the Spring 2014 semester. Both of these courses will be offered exclusively online. UNH graduate students should register for courses though Blackboard, while anyone from outside of UNH should contact the UNH Registrar's Office for more details. 

Courses range from introductory to advanced geospatial concepts

How do I learn more?

First, be sure to thoroughly investigate the UNH Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Science website. Next, reach out to any of the three people listed below with your questions.

.....Faculty Lead
.....Michael Palace |

.....Program Coordinator
.....Michael Routhier | | 603-862-1954

.....Shane Bradt | | 603-862-4277

Posted by Shane Bradt, Extension Specialist in Geospatial Technologies, UNH Cooperative Extension and Michael Routhier, GIS Laboratory Manager, UNH Earth Systems Research Center

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Hydrologic Resilience of Temperate Forests

I have recently returned from 10 months in Tokyo, where I have been studying how hydrologic function (evaporation, transpiration, soil moisture, runoff generation, etc.) recovers from forest disturbance. Fulbright Japan funded me to spend these months with my colleagues at the University of Tokyo to synthesize our basic understanding of the mechanisms underlying hydrologic recovery of forests. Surprisingly, the hydrologic resilience of forests is not well studied. So, we compared U.S. and Japanese examples of forest disturbance due to forest harvesting, storm damage, insect outbreaks, and diseases, and tried to quantify the recovery time. Does a planted forest recover faster than one let to grow back naturally? Does stream flow recover faster in wetter or drier climates? How do hydrologic processes compensate for one another in order to produce hydrologic stability? These are examples of the questions we posed as we dug deeper and deeper into the ideas and data surrounding forest hydrologic recovery.

University of Tokyo Chiba Experimental Forest

Japan is covered by about two thirds forest, and 80 percent of that is plantation of Japanese cedar and cypress which are culturally important trees that make up those plantations. These plantations often exist on incredibly steep slopes (30 percent slope is common), so when stands on these plantations are harvested, a major concern is landslides. Soil water and groundwater increases after forest harvest, which increases the pressure on devegetated slopes to fail, often times catastrophically. Coming from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this was a wakeup to how relatively tame our landscapes are.

Ashley Hyde, a graduate research assistant from PSU joined us in Tokyo to work on her thesis and gave a presentation on the NH volunteer science river monitoring network LoVoTECS

During my time in Japan, I was hosted in a 'sabo' laboratory at the University of Tokyo. Sabo is a term for erosion control, a major issue in the steep forests surrounding the minimal flat, inhabitable land in Japan. Forest hydrology in the U.S. is pretty diverse; some of us link hydrology with ecology, geochemistry, or geomorphology. It is similar in Japan, but it seemed like all forest hydrologists are aware of the relevance of their findings to landslides. This perspective was new to me given that soils at my local research site, the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, seem to have been largely in tact since the last glaciation. Again, this fact was a reminder of the relatively stable landscape we inhabit in New Hampshire.

Beyond my rewarding research experience, I also had a great cultural experience in Japan. Baseball, shrines, izakaya, jam-packed subways, bullet trains, and many other cultural highlights filled my free time in Japan. Getting to know the culture and building new research idea with Japanese colleagues made this an extremely enriching ten months.

Posted by Mark Green, Assistant Professor of Hydrology, Center for the Environment, Plymouth State University and Research Hydrologist, Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service