Geographers on Vacation: Mapping a Bali Road Trip

When it comes to taking a vacation, not everyone thinks “how can I map this?!” However, as a geographer, mapping is always on my mind and vacations are therefore a great opportunity to bust out my trusty black and yellow handheld GPS unit (affectionately known as Bumblebee) and collect some data. In 2014, I took a trip to Bali, Indonesia with my husband Richard. Not only was it an excellent retreat for the both of us, it was a brilliant opportunity for me to collect some field data that I could play around with later. Fast forward to the summer of 2020, and I – like so many Canadians – am dreaming of a future vacation and reminiscing over past trips. Now is the perfect time to dig into my Bali data and have some fun. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put all of our travel plans on hold, let’s take a trip down memory lane together (GIS-style) as I share two fun things that you can do with GPS data. Creating an ArcGIS Online elevation app To get around Bali, my husband and I rented a van from a local company. With our accommodations pre-booked all around the island for various dates, we jumped in the van, buckled up, and hit the road to explore the beautiful landscape. We met countless kind, wonderful people, and we learned a lot about the history and culture of Bali as we journeyed from place to place. We visited beaches, mountains, and everything in between. It was a truly unforgettable road trip! To document our travels up and down the mountainous terrain, I created an elevation profile app using my GPS data and ArcGIS Online. The easy-to-use app generated an interactive elevation profile for each leg of our journey (individual legs were each […]

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COVID-19 Isolation and Air Quality in Canada

There was a fair bit of press given to the impact that COVID-19 isolation or lockdown had on air quality in China and northern Italy – two places hard hit by this pandemic and also two places with particularly poor air quality due to industry, transportation and to some extent geography. As our Caslys team began working remotely from home, we wondered how air quality was being impacted here in Canada. So, we leveraged our earth observation skills and tools that we typically use to monitor the Earth’s surface and ventured into the atmosphere. We downloaded data from the Sentinel-5P Troposheric Monitoring Instrument to replicate what we saw in the news overseas. The focus was on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that comes in large part from the combustion in our cars or the burning of fossil fuels for energy or industry. The Sentinel-5P satellite is able to map a variety of other parameters (listed in the website screen capture above), which may have applications for all sorts of air quality monitoring, but we focused solely on nitrogen dioxide to satisfy our curiosity. To avoid some of the seasonal variation, we plotted the average NO2 concentrations for the period when our local isolation began and the same seasonal range from one year earlier (March 2019 compared to March 2020). We also checked May 2020 to see if the lockdown is still influencing air quality. We looked into a couple of hotspots near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and found that forest fires were the cause of lower air quality. We plotted the results over the National Geographic basemap service to see the hotspots and the generally improved air quality during isolation. In the images above, the highest concentrations of NO2 in the atmosphere are shown in purple – fading to orange and yellow. The […]

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