Course Syllabus

This course provides a survey of applied uses of GIS in the earth sciences.  It builds upon skills and topics covered in ESS 420 (“Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for the Earth Sciences”).  Though basic GIS skills and topics will be briefly reviewed, it is assumed that students are familiar with data types, essential GIS analytic techniques, and the suite of ArcGIS software packages.

The course will explore a wide range of earth science topics, including some covered in ESS 420, at a more advanced level of analysis.  Having covered more of the basic analytic approaches in the introductory GIS course, we will examine and experiment with more detailed, complex analytic techniques using examples from the peer-reviewed literature.  This will provide greater insight into how GIS analysis is put into practice in earth science research.  Topics include the following: digitizing from DEM’s, imagery and/or scanned maps and creating geodatabases; geologic/geomorphic mapping using production-level standards; interpreting terrain characteristics using hypsometric, curvature and morphometric analysis; using hydrologic flow patterns for river bank modeling; floodplain mapping and analysis; measuring and understanding implications of rainfall patterns; landslide forecasting and analysis; and analyzing other geomorphologic phenomena.  Geospatial statistics, including interpolation methods and detection of scale dependence in geospatial phenomena, will also be covered.

The practical nature of GIS usage means that this course will be very hands-on in structure, with in- and outside-class computer lab activities comprising much of the instruction.  However, lectures and in-class discussions of course readings, primarily facilitated by the students themselves, will also be a significant aspect of the course content.  Course assignments will consist of lab exercises related to a number of the weeks’ topics, coordination with facilitation partners for leading in-class reading discussions, and an independent project to be written and presented at the end of the quarter.  Collectively these activities will help students to become familiar with and engage in some of the more advanced geospatial analyses used in a wide range of earth science problems and questions.


Course syllabus (current as of 1/7/2019): ESS_520_win2019_syllabus.pdf


Course Summary:

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