Geography Section

By Sunderman, Frederick W. | Michigan Academician, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Geography Section


Sunderman, Frederick W., Michigan Academician


The abstracts were edited by section leader, Frederick W. Sunderman.

Improving the Classification of Plant Functional Types Using Evidential Reasoning on Remotely-Sensed Imagery of Lower Michigan. Greg Lowman, Department of Geography and Planning, Grand Valley State University

Mapping plant functional types (PFTs) is needed to help researchers track global change. However, there is only one available data set from MODIS which lacks accuracy that, is needed for researchers. This paper presents a new method of mapping plant functional types by using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data and climate types using multisource evidential reasoning. An improved classification of plant functional types will be created by using all the sources of MODIS data that is available and combining them together based on Dempster's Rule of Combination. Once all the data is combined then a decision is made on which classification to use using maximum support. The proposed method was used in earlier research in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and North Dakota and the results show that using evidential reasoning increased accuracy. The evidential reasoning method should show-improved results of plant functional types for Lower Michigan.

Democracy and Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, 1972-2007. Nick Langeland, Department of Geography and Planning, Grand Valley State University

The purpose of this research was to analyze freedom and democracy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The intent was to find examples of changing levels of freedom that could shed light on the process of democratization in the MENA region. The analysis makes use of Freedom in the World data provided by Freedom House from 1972 until 2007. Political rights and civil liberties were mapped using G1S across the region. In addition to this the data for the MENA region is compared to similar data for the entire world. Literature review formed the basis for the interpretation of changes and trends across the region. Ultimately the analysis gives strength to the theory that democratization as a process is driven by both internal conditions and external events

Oil Prices and Amtrak Rider-ship 2002-2008. Nathan Mort, Department of Geography and Planning, Grand Valley State University

For over six years the United States' national passenger rail service Amtrak has experienced increased ridership. At the same time oil prices have also been rising. Several reports speculate that the rising prices have caused the rise in ridership but I have found no scholarly literature demonstrating such a relationship. By comparing the annual ridership figures from the Amtrak website for the years 2002-2008 with oil prices in the United States for the same period from the EIA website, 1 have found that 83.9% of the rise in Amtrak ridership can be explained by rising oil prices. The northeast corridor trains show the greatest correlation between the two variables while the other short distance routes were the least affected. While I was expecting the northeast corridor to have the highest correlation since its trains are the most competitive with other mass transit options, it is surprising that the other short distance routes rather than long distance ones were the least effected. Research into other possible factors such as airport congestion, delays, and the priorities of travelers might shed more light on why this is so.

High Resolution LiDAR Mapping and Representation of an Inca Archaeological Site in Ecuador. Boleslo E. Romero, Department of Geography, Michigan State University

This presentation concentrates on the collection and processing of high-resolution surface data, and how it provided insights into structures and their significance at an archaeological site. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) provided an opportunity to explote surface characteristics with a considerably high level of detail. …

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