GeoWorld December 2012

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NEWSLINK Historical Hurricane Tracking Map Puts Storms in Perspective U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE As Hurricane Sandy set its sights on a large portion of the heavily populated U.S. East Coast, various mapping and imagery tools from federal agencies allowed residents to track and monitor the monster storm���effectively engaging in their own personal weather predicting and disaster planning. But one tool in particular has given users some historical perspective to roll into the decision making. Maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency���s Historical Hurricane Tracks Web site ( allows users to bring historical context to their weather watching and understand that few, if any, localities along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts have remained immune to hurricanes��� effects. ���Knowing more about local hurricane history can help communities better understand their vulnerabilities, so they can take steps to be more resilient if a future hurricane strikes,��� said David Eslinger, a NOAA oceanographer who helped develop the site. The site lets users enter their ZIP Code and then see a map that covers 150 years of Atlantic A NOAA map showing the historical tracks of U.S. hurricanes allows online users to see their area���s local hurricane history stretching back 150 years. 6 G E O W O R L D / D E C E M B E R 2 O 1 2 hurricane tracking data. The site also details population changes for U.S. coastal counties from 1900 to 2000, giving users insight to the increasing number of citizens and pieces of infrastructure at risk during hurricanes. The site got a big boost last year, when tens of thousands of people used it to compare Hurricane Irene���s path with past storms. Now thousands more are turning to the site to put Hurricane Sandy into context. Canadian Portal Provides Info on Oil Sands After Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the oil sands of Canada���s Alberta province represent the world���s third-largest reserve of crude oil. And to make sure those oil resources are developed as responsibly as possible, Canadian officials have set up a GIS-backed portal geared toward informing the public of oil-sand development activities. The Oil Sands Information Portal (OSIP), created by the ministry of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and located online at, uses Esri���s ArcGIS technology to provide an interactive map and data library containing recent oil-sands-related information. The interface lets users find information such as details and locations of oil-sands operations, regional monitoring stations, surface-mining disturbance and reclamation. The ArcGIS API for JavaScript underlies the map, and users can navigate the portal via Web browsers, smartphones or tablets. ���Our goal is to drive excellence and innovation through good science and informed debate,��� said Diana McQueen, ESRD minister. ���Having a tool that brings the latest data and research information to our fingertips will help to achieve this.��� The new tool should aid researchers from government, industry and academia, giving them access to information on air, water, land and wildlife in the form of downloadable spreadsheets or maps. Users also can view pie graphs of greenhouse gas emissions and compare them by industry within the province. Comparisons can be made across Canada or globally. ���Using GIS was a good approach, as our users were becoming more comfortable seeing information presented as maps,��� added Heather Carmichael, a manager for clean energy at ESRD. ���Without this technology, our organization would miss out on a powerful analytic tool. As well, the ministry collects

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