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International Geospatial Digest January 30th, 2023

  1. Vibrant Continental maps of Rivers

  2. Newly found Angolan Peatland mapped

  3. How GISCorps Volunteers used GIS to tackle 2022 challenges

  4. Understand Coastal Change and Management with ‘CoastTrain’

  5. AI-powered geospatial intelligence tool announced

  6. Biodiversity can be measured using new techniques

Vibrant Continental maps of Rivers

Have you ever imagined how many rivers are flowing on the earth’s surface and their whereabouts? Hundreds of them must be carrying freshwater through the mountains and pouring it down into lakes, oceans, and larger rivers.

Thanks to Adam Symington, he has compiled the data for major rivers and river basins around the world and portrayed them in the form of colourful, vibrant maps. Additionally, he has grouped them based on the continents where they flow. See more maps and read about them here


North America River map


Newly found Angolan Peatland mapped

Restoring forests is a known element in mitigating climate change risk. Peatland, on the other hand, is a different kind of biodiverse carbon storage system. It is a specific type of ecosystem that is abundant in dark and earthy soil. It’s surprising to learn that it can capture the aggregate carbon value of several forests. Peatlands have gone unnoticed in comparison to wetlands.


A drone image of part of the Angolan Highlands. Mauro Lourenco, the Author

Mauro Lourenco, a Ph.D. student at the University of the Witwatersrand, started out to study and map the newly discovered peatland in the highly understudied Angolan Highlands. Teaming up with Ph.D. supervisors, they mapped approximately 1,634 sq km of peatland, which was still only 16% of the total highlands.

Using remote sensing, peatlands have been mapped based on their geophysical properties such as vegetation coverage, topography, and the presence of stagnant water. Read more on this here

How GISCorps Volunteers used GIS to tackle 2022 challenges

URISA’s GISCorps volunteers provide GIS services to organizations and underserved communities around the world. Their mission is to provide GIS services ranging from an environmental analysis and economic development to community planning and health and education activities. The volunteer team tackles the project using commercial and open-sourced mapping technologies. The map below pinpoints the places where they have offered their services.



URISA has released a review of GISCorps volunteer work for 2022 in the form of an intriguing story map that primarily highlights global supporters, long-term partnerships, accomplished mission projects, honours and recognition, and missions in progress. Have a look in detail here

Understand Coastal Change and Management with ‘CoastTrain’

For decades, scientists have been studying the coast and its ecosystem. Remotely sensed data and aerial photographs have provided a good understanding of its well-being. A paper that was published in “Scientific Data” talks about the “CoastTrain” dataset, which is a collection of ortho mosaic and satellite imagery of coastal environments with their labels. The dataset comprises 1.2 billion labelled pixels that display over 3.6 million hectares of diverse coastal environments. It was created using a human-in-the-loop method intended for efficient and dependable segmentation of Earth surface images.

The CoastTrain dataset is a collection of ortho mosaic and satellite images of coastal environments along with corresponding labels.

The new dataset will be a beneficial tool for coastal scientists and remote sensing experts. It will be useful in learning about and speculating about coastal changes, management, and conservation. The dataset will soon be available publicly. It will be a vital resource for further research. Read more about this paper here

AI-powered geospatial intelligence tool announced

As the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, ideas to tackle it have been brainstormed. Accenture, for example, has announced, it will team up with Planet Labs to bring forth its expertise in developing an AI-powered geo-intelligence tool. The Planet Labs maintains approximately 200 satellites that photograph our planet as it rotates around it every day. This complex and massive data will then be analyzed using Accenture’s AI and machine learning solution. Making better decisions will be possible thanks to the solution, which will give useful insight into the data.



The collaboration announcement presented an interesting example, such as combining AI and machine learning models with data captured from the Planet Labs satellite family. The model will demonstrate “the impact of climate change on energy capacity in Central America and the Caribbean”. Read more about this joint venture here

Biodiversity can be measured using new techniques

Imaging, mapping, and tracking biodiversity are crucial like never before. Biodiversity loss, which is closely associated with climatic changes, needs monitoring and conservation. The remoteness of many regions was one of the constraints that scientists faced when observing and mapping them. Using imaging spectroscopy and vegetation data from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) site, scientists demonstrated that spectral images can be used to calculate landscape-level biodiversity. Also, any changes in plant species and grassland can be captured.

The map above depicts the relationship between dense canopy cover and large plant density per pixel on the imagery. In the near future, hyperspectral data with hundreds of spectral bands will be made available by space agencies all around the world. This might be useful for mapping various plant species across various grasslands. It is possible to trace any environmental changes and respond with appropriate conservation action. Read more here