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Inaugural Monterey Bay Marine GIS Users Meeting

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Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group meeting participants enjoy the winter sunshine in Santa Cruz, California
Above: Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group meeting participants enjoy the winter sunshine in Santa Cruz, California, during a lunch break. Photograph by Theresa Fregoso, USGS. [larger version]

Larry Crowder
Above: Larry Crowder, Science Director at the Center for Ocean Solutions in Monterey, California, pulls all the threads together in the Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group meeting's final presentation, which focused on bridging the gaps among GIS, policy, and coastal and marine spatial planning. Photograph by Theresa Fregoso, USGS. [larger version]

Nadine Golden, Lisa Wedding, Dawn Wright
Above: Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group meeting organizers Nadine Golden (USGS; left) and Lisa Wedding (University of California, Santa Cruz; right) enjoy a sense of accomplishment as they pose with keynote speaker and Esri Chief Scientist Dawn Wright at the end of the meeting. Photograph by Theresa Fregoso, USGS. [larger version]

The inaugural meeting of the Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group was held January 27, 2012, at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. A GIS (geographic information system) is a computer-based system for storing, manipulating, analyzing, and managing all types of geographically referenced information. The goal of the new GIS user group is to support GIS training, expand capabilities on an individual and community level, and increase awareness of marine spatial datasets among the GIS science community in the Monterey Bay region.

Approximately 100 coastal-GIS data users, marine researchers, and policy makers gathered for five interesting and informative presentations. In this inaugural meeting, we hoped to foster collaboration among academic, private, state, and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Monterey Bay marine-GIS science community. To facilitate collaboration, the meeting presentations were organized to highlight the interconnections among GIS tools, data, and public policy—including coastal and marine spatial planning, a comprehensive, science-based planning process for analyzing current and anticipated uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes areas (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/oceans/cmsp).

The day began with an update from the keynote speaker, Esri Chief Scientist Dawn Wright, who described the new GIS ocean initiatives and science vision that are emerging from Esri. She also provided details and examples of exciting marine-GIS projects and tools currently being developed by and with Esri, such as the company’s bathymetric information system and new ocean basemap layer, and SeaSketch, a decision-support tool under development at the Marine Science Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara, that is based on a combination of open-source and Esri technologies. Notes from Wright’s presentation are posted online in a 7.1-MB PDF file at http://dusk.geo.orst.edu/Pickup/Esri/Monterey_MGIS_djw_Esri.pdf, and further information on the latest advances with respect to GIS ocean initiatives is posted at http://www.esri.com/oceans.

The next presentation by Sam Johnson, USGS Research Geologist and chief scientist in the California Seafloor Mapping Program, focused on the federal- and state-funded seafloor-mapping effort and data. Johnson discussed the California seafloor-mapping vision and gave an update on relevant datasets, derived products, and progress. More information about California State Mapping Program data collection and publication progress is posted online at http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/mapping/csmp/.

After a lunch of networking and socializing in the Santa Cruz winter sunshine, the group heard a presentation by Rikk Kvitek, professor and director of the Seafloor Mapping Lab at California State University, Monterey Bay. Kvitek described the lab’s California Seafloor Mapping Program efforts, as well as data availability and location. He also captivated the group with images of the lab’s research vessel KelpFly, a craft designed to conduct sonar and laser mapping in shallow waters. Information and an online video about the R/V KelpFly is posted at http://news.csumb.edu/news/2011/sep/23/research-vessel-works-uncharted-waters?news-index=14279.

Matt Merrifield, GIS Manager at the Nature Conservancy of California, described how coastal GIS datasets are used in modern Web and mobile applications that provide easier data access to non-GIS users, community groups, and policy makers. Merrifield presented two specific examples: (1) an implementation of data sharing through early GIS Web-based software called MarineMap, which is a decision-support tool for marine spatial planning, and (2) a centralized data-collection tool called eCatch, which is an automated posting system being used by fishermen to submit spatial information on fish.

Merrifield’s presentation provided an excellent transition to the final talk, which focused on bridging the gaps among GIS, policy, and marine-spatial-planning applications. Larry Crowder, Science Director at the Center for Ocean Solutions in Monterey, California, gave the group a comprehensive presentation on coastal and marine spatial planning—its legislative history, the complex issues associated with it, and lessons learned from several case-study examples. He pointed out that GIS is a natural fit for coastal and marine spatial planning because its layered-information approach can help users visualize and sort through the multiple demands commonly placed on a single area, such as a shipping channel. Crowder also highlighted an upcoming project evaluating the mapping of cumulative human impacts in Monterey Bay and encouraged the group of GIS scientists to consider addressing the need for creating spatial datasets for coastal planning and use. More about Crowder’s work and the work at the Center for Ocean Solutions can be found at http://www.centerforoceansolutions.org/initiatives.

The Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group will meet again in summer 2012; details to be announced soon. For any questions about the Monterey Bay Marine GIS User Group or meeting, please contact Lisa Wedding at lwedding@ucsc.edu or Nadine Golden at ngolden@usgs.gov.


Related Web Sites
California Seafloor Mapping Program
Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
National Ocean Council
R/V KelpFly - Research Vessel Works in Uncharted Waters
California State University, Monterey Bay

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