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Geographic Information Systems: Resources from IJC

IJC admin | 2017/09/06

By Michael Mezzacapo, IJC 

 


As a transboundary organization, the IJC uses maps and geospatial data to help manage water levels and conduct watershed assessment and ecological inventory analysis.

Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology, spatial data can be visualized with high-level detail and processed in complex ways. The IJC uses GIS to map information such as Lake Erie phosphorus monitoring programs and the locations of Areas of Concern. The data provided helps governments, nongovernmental organizations, and citizens better understand their local regions. To explore more maps and data along the waters of the US and Canadian borders, see the IJC’s online mapping portal.

A screenshot of the IJC mapping portal. Credit: IJC
A screenshot of the IJC mapping portal.
Credit: IJC

Maps were essential for early explorers navigating the globe and are just as important in modern life.   

GIS allows users to take geospatial data and create maps that analyze and interpret data to evaluate potential relationships, patterns, and tendencies. Besides the IJC, GIS is used by cities for planning and utilities, governments for transportation and defense, and companies for market research.

A map of the world in the 1800s. Credit: National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, HERE, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, P Corp.
A map of the world in the 1800s. Credit: National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, HERE, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, P Corp.

Because data changes with time and events, GIS maps can be dynamic to reflect these changes, such as the Columbia River basin map below. This is an example of a dynamic product showing real-time data for US Geological Survey (USGS) river flow gauge stations and watershed boundaries. This information is used by hydrologists and Columbia River Board of Control members to assist with regulating water levels or planning new station locations (Click here to view an interactive map).

A map showing the distribution and density of gauging stations in the Columbia River Basin. Credit. IJC
A map showing the distribution and density of gauging stations in the Columbia River Basin. Credit. IJC

The IJC also uses GIS to help the public better understand extreme weather events. After the 2011 Souris River flood, the IJC along with USGS and the North Dakota State Water Commission, created an Esri Story Map to help citizens better understand historical floods and how and why the recent flooding occurred. Products like these can help the IJC communicate important science being done in the Canada and the US.

A screenshot of the application created to describe the causes, impacts and potential mitigation solutions of the 2011 Souris River flooding event. Credit: IJC
A screenshot of the application created to describe the causes, impacts and potential mitigation solutions of the 2011 Souris River flooding event. Credit:
IJC

Michael Mezzacapo is the 2017-2018 Michigan Sea Grant Fellow at the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario.

 

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