University Consortium for Geographic Information Science Virginia Tech University Consortium for Geographic Information Science
GIScience Research at Virginia Tech

The below summarizes a number of the current research projects in GIScience underway or recently completed at Virginia Tech.

GETWEBS: The Geographic Engineering Tool for Wireless: Evaluation of Broadband Systems: The GETWEBS project was an interdisciplinary project in which faculty and students developed a suite of software tools for wireless network system design and layout. The project integrated education and research to develop the needed tools for broadband wireless system evaluation with special on LMDS (Local Multipoint Distribution Service). A formal summer school course offered in the summers of 2000 and 2001 formed interdisciplinary teams of students and faculty in Engineering, Business and Geography. They used the collaborative development of the GETWEBS tool as a vehicle for learning about the technical and business aspects of broadband wireless network design. (Carstensen)

Mapping the Alpine Treeline Ecotone with Digital Aerial Photography and Textural Analysis (PDF): This study uses a classification technique that incorporates both spectral and spatial information to provide ecological insights into the scale dependencies of individual landscape elements at the alpine treeline ecotone in Glacier National Park Montana. Improvements in classification accuracies of ecotone classes that incorporate both texture and brightness depend upon window size and texture parameter, indicating that the optimal scale of analysis varies between ecotone classes. Using texture in image analysis of the ecotone highlights scale sensitivities in this particular landscape boundary. Textural analyses may be useful for reducing error in classifications by providing information on the scale at which various landscape patterns operate. (Resler)

VirginiaView: VirginiaView is statewide consortium for remote sensing education, research, and geospatial applications. VirginiaView is a member of the nationwide AmericaView program, a USGS funded consortium focusing on satellite remote sensing data and technologies in support of applied research, K-16 education, workforce development, and technology transfer. VirginiaView activities include maintaining a free, on-line satellite imagery archive, development of an atlas of environmental resources in Virginia, workshops and training for K-16, and applied research projects.

Inventory of Non-Forested Wetlands: (PDF) The capabilities of GIS offer an opportunity to more accurately model and map wetland systems. This project develops a spatial model to accurately identify wetlands in an effort to provide alternative, and improved, methodologies for the current wetland mapping system employed by the National Wetlands Inventory. Ours model employs soil drainage class, distance to water, soil moisture regime, and wetland vegetation, using ASTER multispectral imagery, DEMs, DOQQs, and SURGO data. The statistical design utilizes binary logistic regression for developing the wetlands model, deriving model coefficients, and creating the final model output image. Discriminant analysis assessed the contribution that each variable made to the overall success of the wetland prediction model. (Campbell)

The Use of GIS in Studies of Mosquito-borne Disease: (PDF) GIS has frequently been applied to studies of health and disease patterns, and in this research on mosquito-borne diseases, GIS aids in the delineation of mosquito habitat. Physical and human features that are conducive to the growth and survival of mosquitoes are overlain to represent areas in which a disease outbreak may occur. Valuable mosquito- and outbreak-control resources can be concentrated in areas specified by the GIS analysis. (Kolivras)

The Wyoming-Jacksons Ferry 765 kV Project: The project was sponsored by American Electric Power Company and project team included Virginia Tech and West Virginia University. GIS was used to help identify the least impacted route on cultural, natural and visual resources for a 90 mile high-voltage transmission line. (Johnson, Kennedy)

Virginia Eastern Shore Project: Developed GIS mapping for cultural and natural resources on Virgina's Eastern Shore (highly sensitive aquatic resource). Mapping was used for planning and resource management by the Nature Conservancy. (Johnson, Kennedy)

New River Parkway EIS Project: Environmental impact statement for a proposed 10 mile parkway in West Virginia. GIS was used for viewshed and natural resource analysis and mapping. (Johnson, Kennedy)

Multi-scale Vegetation Mapping for the Rappahannock River Valley NWR CMI is working cooperatively with the US Fish and Wildlife Service at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge to map the vegetation of their various tracts to the National Vegetation Classification. This effort includes both a stand-level mapping effort and a landscape effort in order to determine how well the present refuge property reflects the vegetation and land cover types of their acquisition boundary. (CMI)

Land Trust Decision Support System: New River Land Trust Pilot Study The CMI, lead research group for the Mid-Atlantic Information Node of the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure, is working with a land trust organization to build a spatially-based decision support system to assist with prioritizing potential parcel targets for conservation easements. This project will employs the Internet along with several different spatial GIS layers to allow for changing objectives, environmental parameters, and socioeconomic data. (CMI)

Upper Tennessee Aquatic Gap Analysis Project This effort involves collaboration between the USGS Cooperative Research Unit at Virginia Tech, the USGS National Gap Analysis Program, and the CMI. The goal of this research is to identify specific watersheds within the Upper Tennessee basin, that provide the best biodiversity conservation options in the face of watershed-scale declines. By analyzing predicted species distributions along with risk, we are able to identify the areas that offer the best opportunity to preserve diversity for species that are presently under-represented in low-risk watersheds. (CMI)

Comprehensive GIS-based Literature and Collections Database for the Central Pine Barrens of Long Island The USFWS, along with other agencies tasked with research and management in the Central Pine Barrens of Long Island, New York, is working with CMI to develop a database with all known records of published works and species collections for the area. This required extensive research of existing databases, both spatial and thematic user interfaces, and a mapping component. Users will be able to quickly search and review the database for the information they seek via thematic and spatial relationships. (CMI)

Vegetation Mapping and Spatial Data Organization for Tinker Air Force Base The Military Lands Division of CMI is working with the Department of Defense at Tinker Air Force Base to provide a map of vegetation, as well as some more specific information on habitats utilized by endangered species. This product is derived from aerial photography and some spatial modeling. (CMI)

Aquatic Indicators of Land Condition Management of terrestrial ecosystems impacts nearby aquatic ecosystems as well. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is sponsoring research to develop GIS-based indicators of land management that can be related to aquatic ecosystem health through the use of samples of aquatic insects. Watershed conditions and management practices are combined with terrain conditions and vegetation cover to determine if a spatially-defined set of indicators can be developed to aid in planning and monitoring of management activities to maintain watershed health. In the accompanying figure (for an area in northeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho), watershed boundaries are delineated in blue with sample locations of stream macroinvertebrates in pink. (Prisley)

Developing Estimates of Forest Soil Carbon from Digital Spatial Data Soil carbon estimates by forest type are needed for national-scale models that account for forest carbon sequestration. These estimates must be geographically comprehensive, methodologically consistent, transparent, and repeatable, and should be based on the best available knowledge that can be found in formats conducive to automated processing (i.e., digital databases). This project developed nationwide, spatially specific soil carbon estimates from NRCS' STATSGO data and derived averages by forest type using the Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plot data. (Prisley)

Development of a Decision Support Model Using MapObjects to Study Transportation Systems' A decision support model was developed to study the impacts of introducing a novel mode of transportation called the "Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS)". Visual Basic was the integration environment to deliver a stand-alone final integrated model consists of several components including: 1) a System Dynamics model to study SATS impacts and coded in Matlab and converted into Dynamic Link Library, 2) several types of socio-economic data sets required in the transportation system modeling process and stored in MS Access data format, and 3) geographical representation of data sets used and the analysis using MapObject. (Trani)

REGION 2000 HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN CGIT is developing a hazard mitigation plan for the Region 2000 Regional Commission based on the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Various tasks include hazard identification, risk assessment, mitigation strategies, and the eventual adoption of the plan. (Parson)

A Web-enabled Spatial Decision Support System for Interdisciplinary Watershed Management This research project presents the development issues, architecture, and advantages of internet-based, cross-disciplinary modeling for watershed management using the Back Creek sub watershed of the Upper Roanoke River Basin in southwestern Virginia as a case study. A prototype web enabled Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS), WebL2W, has been developed as a result of this research. (Dymond)

Virginia Tech Facilities Management using GISImproving the University's management of facilities, infrastructure, and environment through CADD and GIS. This system integrates geospatial, asset, maintenance, and environmental data into a centralized hub that will be used for efficiently managing the University's facilities, such as improved inventory tracking and traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) flow; better record keeping of maintenance (work orders); easily prepared environmental assessments; and integrated hydraulic and hydrologic modeling with existing data. (Dymond, Martin)

Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan: CGIT is developing a plan to assess the risk to state facilities from different hazards including flooding, fire, wind, hurricane, earthquake, and man-made. CGIT will conduct data development and analysis for the hazard assessment and vulnerability analysis and will develop mitigation strategies. (Parson, Dymond)

Sources of Uncertainty Affecting Soil Organic Carbon Estimates in Northern New York (PDF). Estimations of regional soil organic carbon (SOC) stores are sensitive to map scale effects, the geography of soil resources, and uncertainty stemming from SOC values assigned to soil series. This study assessed uncertainty associated with regional SOC estimation from detailed soil survey and found that the greatest uncertainty in regional SOC estimation originated from the variation in SOC values assigned to soil series, with coefficients of variation (CV) ranging from 3 to 87%. (Galbraith)

Using Public Domain Data to Aid in Field Identification of Hydric Soils (PDF). Hydric soil field identification can be time consuming and labor intensive. Digital public domain indicators of hydric soils were useful in narrowing the specific location of hydric soils within large digital soil survey delineations. (Galbraith)

The Gypsy Moth STS Project Information System The goal of the National Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Project (STS) is to implement integrated pest management strategies to slow the rate at which gypsy moth, an invasive forest pest, expands into non-infested areas. GIS is crucial for planning, implementation, intervention, and evaluation of the project, which encompasses nearly 400,000 square kilometers in ten mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. (Roberts)

Lead Delegate:
Kathleen Hancock

Second Delegate:
Peter Sforza

Alternate Delegate:
Yang Shao