198 Providing Application-Driven GIS Education for Earth System Science

Monday, 11 January 2016
Amanda M. Weigel, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and R. Griffin and K. Bugbee

GIS has become an important tool for understanding the Earth and its many processes, proving critical for Earth System Science (ESS) students and professionals. Real world applications and datasets can provide a useful means of instruction on scientific geospatial analysis and GIS software. With a wide range of research areas that fall under the rubric of ESS, thematic foci can help structure a student's understanding of the potential uses of GIS across sub-disciplines, while communicating core data processing concepts. The Climate Data Initiative (CDI) is addressing the challenging goal of organizing domestic datasets around core themes related to climate change impacts. These thematic areas, which currently include coastal flooding, food resilience, ecosystem vulnerability, water, transportation, energy infrastructure, and human health, form the core of a new college course at the University of Alabama in Huntsville developed around real-world applications in the Earth sciences. The learning modules and use-case scenarios for this course serve a dual purpose, in both the instruction of undergraduate and graduate ESS students, and in demonstrating the potential uses of the CDI data. Providing students with application-driven geospatial education will enable them to understand both the availability of Earth science datasets, and the necessary components for consideration when conducting research and analysis.
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