Glimpses 2005

Glimpses 2005

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Dhawal Kumar
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Rituparna Sengupta
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India’s PSLV C-6 takes off successfully with CARTOSAT-I and HAMSAT on May 5, 2005
Today the geospatial community is making its presence felt in a very big way. The year 2005 has witnessed a variety of applications of geospatial tools. We take a glimpse at some interesting events which took place in the year 2005…

As the world becomes more aware of the irreparable scars on the natural environment caused by man’s obsession with economic and technological developments, prevention of further damage by strengthening environmental monitoring and natural resources management endeavors have gained momentum. The assistance of GIS is being increasingly appreciated. After losing 86 old trees over a period of six years, the forest authorities of Shenzhen in China have turned to the GPS to preserve the remaining old trees. From last September, Shenzhen forestry authorities began defining positions of old trees using the system and, so far, the positions of more than 400 old trees had been determined by means of the positioning system, said Chen Lizhong, an official of the municipal forestry office. This year it was reported that detailed mapping of natural resources in 46 select districts spread across 10 states in India are nearing completion. An interesting mapping exercise was also introduced this year – the first exhaustive map of where the world’s birds live revealing their diversity ‘hotspots’ that was largely assisted by GIS. It is the result of a new form of Natural Environment Research Council Consortium Grant in UK.

Satellite imagery and aerial photography were also put into use for environmental assessment. The last bits of pristine parkland in central Alberta, Canada was studied with aerial photography and then recorded on maps by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita NOAA performed aerial surveys of affected regions, which assisted disaster management activities. Such varied hues of geospatial applications are veering the entire realm towards mainstream in a significant manner!

The year 2005 has been a witness to disasters, which grabbed the attention of the world scientific community and policy makers. Disaster management and relief activities captured the headlines for a major part of the year. There were some interesting developments in this domain. The FAO produced an atlas of Tsunami affected areas in South East Asia. The atlas was of great use to the FAO and other officials and non-governmental organizations working in the devastated zones. Cornell University launched a new website that has maps using GIS, which gave researchers information and also helped relief workers to do their work in the devastated areas. The Red Cross used GIS for relief efforts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita to provide information to senior executives who used maps to make better and more informed decisions.

The NASA’s science instruments and Earth-orbiting satellites are providing detailed insight about the environmental impact caused by Hurricane Katrina. Images and data are helping characterize the extent of flooding; damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure; and potential hazards caused by the storm and its aftermath. NASA, along with academic institutions and partner agencies, is working to ensure the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have the best available information to aid in responding to this catastrophic event.