Geographic Information Science & Technology Graduate Programs

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Hot or Cold - How GIS Changes Our Perceptions of Climate Change

Geographic information systems, or GIS, help to capture, analyze, and store geographic or spatial data. GIS can also refer to the science that studies these systems, which is geographical information science. Those who work with geographic information systems can focus their careers on figuring out how the data can contribute to a broad range of scientific topics and studies, one of which is climate change.

GIS Usage

People in a variety of different careers and industries rely on GIS, including those working in engineering, management, logistics, telecommunications, and planning. Scientists can also use GIS to determine physical properties of a specific area and predict what may happen in the future based on patterns and data that the system can store. In looking at climate change, scientists look at previous data that might include high and low temperatures for a specific date or time period in an area. From there, the scientists can make predictions based on the patterns of the land area in the past.

Climate Change Controversy

People have been debating the existence and cause of climate change for many years, although it has become more of a hot-button issue in the past decade. Some believe that climate change comes as a direct result of humans burning fossil fuels and using vehicles that produce carbon emissions, while others argue that climate change is part of the natural progression of the earth. However, those who use GIS can look at how the climate changes on a daily basis in areas around the world and make more educated decisions about how to limit the problem.

Concerns with Climate Change

Climate change can cause significant problems for species around the globe, since these animals can only live in certain climates. The increased temperatures cause the animals to die off, which impacts the animals who rely on this species within the food chain. It also impacts business owners, such as restaurant owners and hunting companies. In a recent study, GIS experts used data from these systems to determine the cause of endangerment of the bobwhite.

Protecting Ecosystems

Scientists can use geographic information systems to look for patterns and determine how to limit the climate change before it is too late. One of the reasons to do this is to help in protecting ecosystems that require cold or hot weather for survival. Scientists work closely with conservation agencies to figure out why a certain animal species is struggling to survive, which might be able to save them before they are gone forever.

Concrete and Climate Change

Something else that is influenced by climate change is concrete, according to new data from Northeastern University. Cities contain thousands of acres of concrete in buildings, bridges, and other structures, but it is vulnerable to decay and corrosion. Environmental elements can seep through the concrete and break down the steel rods that reinforce the concrete.

Regardless of your personal position on climate change, most people can agree upon the benefit that geographic information systems have had in this area of science. The impact will also continue to improve as technology advances.