Overview of GIS at NACSE
Many of the databases we work with contain biological or environmental data, including a geographic location. The availability of this "spatial component" means that in addition to queries and results that use text, we can also create map-based interfaces.
This type of software is referred to generically as Geospatial Information Systems - GIS for short. We use a variety of open-source and commercial products to implement our mapping tools. Most importantly, we integrate mapping capabilities with more traditional types of research databases, making the data more accessible and more useful.
Web-based mapping tools make it possible not just to view data in the context of its geographic location, but also to use the map to query the database for other information from that location. NACSE staff develop the mapping interfaces amd also perform a variety of data cleaning, processing, manipulation, and analysis tasks.
Examples of Our Work
MapServer Interfaces - Our MapServer interfaces run on a Linux server and are created completely with Open Source Software, including MapServer, PHP Mapscript, PHP, GDAL, PROJ.4, and a host of useful libraries.
- Cryptogams of Olympic National Park: Cryptogams are mosses, lichens, liverworts, and other non-vascular plants. This interface allows the user to query a Sybase database of cryptogam records. When "Map Results" is chosen, sites containing the selected records are plotted on an interactive MapServer interface. Sites on the map can then be queried to retrieve information stored in the database. This interface also retrieves DOQ imagery from Microsoft's TerraServer on-the-fly, integrating the imagery with locally served layers. Try it out: Go to the query page. You will see four menus. Try selecting select several items from the "Genus" menu (or alternatively, selecting several watershed) leaving the other menus set to "** all values **". Click the "Map Results" button.
- Oregon Topographic Map (DRG) Viewer: Over 15 GB of digitized, georeferenced 7.5" topographic maps (DRGs) covering the entire state browsed, queried for metadata, and downloaded using this interface. Try it out: Go to the control page. Select an area (Corvallis?) from the drop-down list, then click the "Zoom In" tool. Position the magnifying lens over an area (downtown?) and click to see more detail.
- LTER Interactive GIS Viewer: Users can browse and query GIS information "layers" from several of the Long Term Ecological Research sites (some sites have not made data available yet). Try it out: Go to the interactive viewer website. Choose a site (or just use the default, the Oregon site). Select one or more "feature layers" from the list (e.g., "roads"), then click the "Refresh Map" button. Add some more layers (e.g., "landslides" and "streams") and refresh again. Try changing to a different site (such as "Hubbard Brook") to
- Nongeoreferenced imagery viewer:This standalone viewer allows users to browse nongeoreferenced satellite imagery. Users can preview images, zooming and panning to determine what is available. Try it out: Go to the flight line imagery from the Sevilleta LTER site. In this example, images from an AVIRIS flight are displayed. Use the controls at the bottom to zoom in and out. Spatial Data Workbench users apply this interface to preview the images in the SDW catalog; image metadata is read on-the-fly from the catalog and displayed in the subtitle bar.
- AVIRIS Flightline Generator: Personnel from the LTER Network Office needed a way to dynamically generate flight line reference maps from the information stored in AVIRIS imagery header files. This service interface supports both UTM and Geographic projections, allowing users to generate reference maps for several LTER sites quickly and accurately.
- H.J. Andrews LTER Site: This HTML-based interface was coded against ArcIMS 3.0 a few years ago, and was later ported to 4.x. The H.J. Andrews LTER site is located east of Eugene, Oregon in the Cascades mountain range. A great deal of forest research is conducted at this site - both researchers and managers wanted a Web-based interface that would allow them to browse map layers and retrieve information about the site. Our site is a mirror of the production site maintained by the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Try it out: Go to the viewer website. Make a new "layer" (try "Roads") visible by checking the small box, then click "Refresh Map". Try varying selections of visible layers, and use the controls at the left to zoom or move around in the image. Click on the blue "Metadata" links at the bottom of the page to see the formal metadata about "Roads"; this is maintained in FGDC standard format (familiar to all GIS specialists).
- Bottomline Density Management Study Area: This study area, located SW of Eugene, Oregon, is the site of a multidisciplinary project examining how a wide array of variables are affected by different methods of forest stand thinning. Participating organizations include Oregon State University, USGS Biological Resources Division, USDI Bureau of Land Management, and the National Biological Information Infrastructure. Our ArcIMS interface provides access to a number of base layers and contains additional hyperlinked information for each density treatment type. Research data will be made available via this interface as it becomes available. Try it out: Go to the mapping interface. All information "layers" are currently visible; try removing some of them by un-checking the boxes, then clicking "Refresh Map." Note that exactly one layer is considered "active" at a time; click "View Metadata" to see the information about that layer.
NACSE's computing facilities support multiple operating platforms (Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Win32, Mac OS/X). Our GIS and database servers are powered primarily by Solaris and Linux (RHEL). The full ESRI ArcGIS suite is installed on several Win32 workstations, and use QGIS and JUMP GIS on our Linux desktop workstations. We maintain non-spatial production databases in Oracle, Sybase, PostgreSQL, and MySQL, and spatial databases in PostgreSQL/PostGIS.