Wednesday, 25 September 2019

A review of selected latest journal articles in the field of Geoinformatics

I spontaneously filled an open slot for our regular PhD seminar in the Chair of Geoinformatics. As I described in an earlier blog post, I occasionally browse through latest published articles like scanning for headlines in the daily news. And with an app like Feedly or Inoreader you can tag interesting articles for later and group them. Now was the chance to re-iterate through some of the latest articles - literally aiming for only few months old to a maximum of 1-2 years old. I initially came up with a group of ca 30-35 articles, which was still too much for a single seminar.

GIScience is not a homogenous and strictly defined discipline, and there is no consensus among GIScience researchers about the relevant publication outlets.
Filip Biljecki (2016) “A scientometric analysis of selected GIScience journals”, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 30:7, 1302-1335, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2015.1130831

The original idea was to cover a few different topics that are also relevant for the teaching and research we do in the department, such as:

- cloud processing and Google Earth engine
- machine learning and GIS (statistical modelling)
- at least like European level/scale modelling
- some modern cartography/visualization topics
- terrain modelling

I'd then give a short overview of journals, and the selected papers hand out copies one each. 5 minutes reading/skimming and then one circulation, and another 5 minutes, and then discussion. The timing turned out to be too optimistic and we spent more time discussion the papers and interesting facts the participants found for themselves.

  • Comparison of FOSS4G Supported Equal-Area Projections Using Discrete Distortion Indicatrices, ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(8), 351;
  • Performance Testing on Marker Clustering and Heatmap Visualization Techniques: A Comparative Study on JavaScript Mapping Libraries, ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(8), 348;
  • Examining the sensitivity of spatial scale in cellular automata Markov chain simulation of land use change, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 33:5, 1040-1061, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2019.1568441
  • The scale effects of the spatial autocorrelation measurement: aggregation level and spatial resolution, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 33:5, 945-966, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2018.1564316
  • Comparative usability of an augmented reality sandtable and 3D GIS for education, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2019.1656810
  • Deeply integrating Linked Data with Geographic Information Systems, Transactions in GIS 2019
  • GIS&T pedagogies and instructional challenges in higher education: A survey of educators, Transactions in GIS 2019
  • The spatial allocation of population: a review of large-scale gridded population data products and their fitness for use, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 11, 1385–1409,
  • Google Earth Engine: Planetary-scale geospatial analysis for everyone, 2017, Remote Sensing of Environment,
  • Big spatial vector data management: a review, Big Earth Data, 2:1, 108-129, DOI: 10.1080/20964471.2018.1432115
  • Contemporary American cartographic research: a review and prospective, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 46:3, 196-209, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2019.1571441
  • Automated and semi-automated map georeferencing, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2019.1604161

Thursday, 21 February 2019

WARREDOC International Winter School on Data Rich Hydrology 2019

The "Data Rich Hydrology" Winter School 2019 took place in beautiful Colombella, Perugia (Italy). It was jointly organised by the Water Resources Research and Documentation Center (WARREDOC) and UNESCO World Water Assessment Program (WWAP). The WARREDOC was established at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia (UNISTRAPG) since 1985 - developing research, advanced training and scientific communication in the field of water, environment and disaster risk management.

The days were organised into a serious of lectures and lab sessions and food and accommodation were provided all at the location of the Villa Colombella, that was an extraordinary experience. We were completely immersed in this place students and lecturers altogether.

The program encompassed mainly lectures of absolute high scientific standard and well presented by the experienced and well-known lecturers.

- The Era of Data Rich Hydrology, 1st keynote lecture, by Prof. Rafael L. Bras

Prof. Bras is one of the forefathers of hydrology (Google Scholar). He gave us a history lesson of conceptual, numerical and later computational hydrology and modelling of catchments. He concluded with the outlook of what we as young hydrologists should keep striving towards to improve understanding and modelling of the hydrological cycle.

- The WWDR and SDG 6 Synthesis Report, 2nd keynote lecture, by Prof. Stefan Uhlenbrook, also head of UNESCO WWAP

- Remote sensing and data assimilation in hydrology by Prof. Fabio Castelli

- Hydrologic modelling in a data rich world by Prof. Prof Riccardo Rigon

- Citizen science and big data in hydrology by Prof. Fernando Nardi

- Beyond traditional extreme value theory: lessons learned from rainfall and hurricane intensity by Prof. Marco Marani

More topics got covered by further renowned professors, researchers and practitioners in hydrological and hydraulic modelling:

- Groundwater hydrology and hydrological process mechanics
- The water-food-energy nexus
- Modelling scaling properties of precipitation fields
- Hydrologic measurements and novel observation technologies
- Drones in Hydrology (lecture & hands on)
- Hydrological risk assessment: Return period and probability of failure
- Advances in the space-time analysis of rainfall extremes
- Data poor vs. data rich cases for flood hazard (lecture & hands on)
- Distributed Data quality and urban flood modelling uncertainty
- Stream flow measurements: ground and satellite observations
- Remote sensing data and tools to foster inland water monitoring and flood modeling

I also had the pleasure to get interviewed by research fellow and PhD student Francisco Pena, who does a radio show on Disaster Risk Reduction. We had a great chat about our ideas and views on the topics and lectures during this Winter School on Hydrology and did some brainstorming: (link to the radio show)

If you like to check out Francisco's pages: (LinkedIn) and and (Twitter)

Monday, 24 September 2018

Some really nice geospatial podcasts to enlighten your day


  • If you like maps and location then you might find listening to a couple of middle-aged guys from the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand) chat irreverently about geospatial stuff just the ticket!

Isn't That Spatial:

  • "Isn't That Spatial" is the podcast bringing everyday geography and urbanism into your earspace.

The Mappyist Hour:
  • Geographer and Geo types talking about how incredible their profession is "after hours"

The Scene From Above Podcast:

  • The #scenefromabove podcast aims to present an informal podcast looking at the world of modern remote sensing and Earth observation, fuelled by their passion for all things raster and geospatial: a mix of news, opinion, discussion and interviews.

GeoGedöns (in German):

  • Ein Podcast von zwei enthusiastischen Satellitennavigationsbegeisterten, die gerne Technik testen und Spiele spielen, die sich am Handy bzw Smartphone abspielen und für die meist eine Lokalisation via Satelliten nötig ist.

Radio OSM (in German)

  • Berichte und Neuigkeiten rund um OpenStreetMap, ​die freie Wiki-Weltkarte

  • JBGeoPro - Joe Bob Penor (United States), Soundcloud Podcast

A VerySpatial Podcast:
  • Discussions on Geography and geospatial technologies. The VerySpatial blog is intended to be a location for the hosts and participants of A VerySpatial Podcast to link to interesting sites and articles on Geography and related information.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

2018 Visit Tartu Observatory

In the beginning of September 2018, Evelyn and myself went to visit the Tartu Observatory, located in Töravere, about 20 minutes car drive South-east of Tartu. We had the pleasure to meet with the director of the observatory, Dr Anu Reinart. We used to the meeting to introduce our intention to host a NASA Space Apps Challenge hackathon, jointly with Tartu Observatory, which is in fact the Estonian Space Agency. The idea was greatly welcomed and organising the event proceeded.

Dr Anu Reinart gave us the honour of a short guided introduction to the buildings, departments and exhibition areas of the observatory. It was very interesting to learn about the 3 main pillars of work and research at the facility:

First and foremost, space exploration, astronomy, analysing space imagery from telescopes on Earth and in orbit. Secondly, Earth Observation and Remote Sensing. This is a field of joint interest and increasing collaboration between Tartu Observatory and the Department of Geography. And finally, a smaller fraction also works on innovation and satellite technology.

Tartu Observatory website:

Tartu Observatory main building. It was renovated and houses the staff and research offices.

Various impressions from inside the main building. Baltic Sat Apps is a innovation / incubator program, supported by ESA, on uptake of Sentinal / Copernicus data.

Various impressions from inside the main building. History of satellite missions the observatory has participated in. 

Various impressions from inside the main building. The main satellite payload that was launched where Estonia's first own little satellite - the EstCUBE cubesat - was also lifted into space.

Various impressions from inside the main building. Educational and research information on space.

Various impressions from inside the main building. A nice open area, after the renovation of the building, the hallways have been redesigned in order to create more open spaces.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Considerations for Data Management Plans in Research

It's grant writing time again. Actually, it's somehow always grant writing time. But even if you are currently a team member in a publicly funded research programme, you might want to consider your data management.
A recent editorial of the Nature journal had it as prime topic: "Everyone needs a data-management plan". They sound dull, but data-management plans are essential. Funders must explain why, and the ones who want to get funded, need to explain how:

Keeping your research data freely available is crucial for open science — and your funding could depend on it. A related companion article describes simple steps, "Data management made simple":

Robert-Jan Smits, the EU's outgoing director-general for research, science and innovation, recently been appointed the EU's special envoy on open access, tasked with helping make all publicly funded research in Europe freely available by 2020, says that this should consequently also include the data.

Imagine if all the billions we are now putting into these expensive subscription journals could be put into research. There are already a good variety of open access repositories like Zenodo, OpenAire etc.

How to make research data publicly available and how to plan for and address it in your Data Management Plan:


1. Making data findable

Several datasets may be included. This should consider the dataset reference and name; origin and expected size of the data generated/collected; data types and formats, metadata, persistent and unique identifiers e.g., DOI

- catalogues, data citing etc

2. Making data openly accessible

This should consider which data will be made openly available and if some datasets remain closed, the reasons for not giving access; where the data and associated metadata, documentation and code are deposited (repository?); how the data can be accessed (are relevant software tools/methods provided?)



The Registry of Research Data Repositories provides a useful listing of repositories that you can search to find a place of deposit.

3. Making data interoperable

The Research Data Alliance provides a Metadata Standards Directory that can be searched for disciplinespecific
standards and associated tools.


Which standard or field-specific data and metadata vocabularies and methods will be used

4. Increase data reuse

Consider what data will remain re-usable and for how long, is embargo foreseen; how the data is licensed;  data quality assurance procedures


More aspects:

- Allocation of resources and data security

- Note that costs related to open access to research data are eligible as part of the Horizon 2020 grant (if compliant with the Grant Agreement conditions).

Consider the estimated costs for making the project data open access and potential value of long-term data preservation; procedures for data backup and recovery; transfer of sensitive data and secure storage in repositories for long term preservation and curation

Ethical aspects

Consider whether there are any ethical or legal issues than can have an impact on data sharing. For
example, is informed consent for data sharing and long term preservation included in questionnaires
dealing with personal data?

Last but not least, don't forget to refer to other national/funder/sectorial/departmental procedures for data management that you are using / supposed to be using (if any)

DMPOnline is an online tool that can help you building your Data Management Plan. DMPonline is based on the open source DMPRoadmap codebase, which is jointly developed by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and the University of California Curation Center (UC3). The DCC & UC3 work closely with research funders and universities to produce a tool that generates active DMPs and caters for the whole lifecycle of a project, from bid-preparation stage through to completion.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Making environmental research articles discoverable with OGC catalogue service

I am very happy to announce that our new article "Enhancing Location-related Hydrogeological Knowledge" has been published in the ISPRS International Jounral of Geo-information.

Kmoch, A.; Uuemaa, E.; Klug, H.; Cameron, S.G. (2018) Enhancing Location-Related Hydrogeological Knowledge. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. , 7, 132,

In a joint study by the University of Tartu (Estonia), the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (New Zealand) and the University of Salzburg (Austria) more than 5,800 scientific articles from three environmental research journals were digitised and analysed. In addition, a geographical search method was developed to identify the location of a studied area.

We use Georeferencing of scientific journal articles and text-mining in order to provide spatial search capabilities for environmental research. Journal articles are made discoverable through spatial queries. We propose that journal publishers should provide these capabilities on their platforms. This would allow everyone to search for journal articles for their desired regions of interest and it would really well complement existing search functionalities with keywords etc.

The press release from Tartu University explains really nicely how our results enable geographic search for scientific papers through text mining and geocoding; and how to better find environmental research articles via location.

Estonian version of the press release:

(This article belongs to the Special Issue Place-Based Research in GIScience and Geoinformatics)
MDPI OpenAccess:


Monday, 26 March 2018

Interoperable exchange of groundwater data with OGC GroundWaterML2

WaterML2 has become a well-known synonym for internationally standardised hydrological data exchange, in particular for government agencies and research institutes across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Technically, WaterML2 is becoming a suite of standards actively promoted and endorsed by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), more details:

- WaterML 2.0: Part 1 - Time series of Observations

- WaterML 2.0: Part 2 - Ratings, Gaugings and Sections

- WaterML 2.0: Part 3 - Surface Hydrology Features (aka HY_Features)

- WaterML 2.0: Part 4 - aka GroundWaterML 2 (GWML2) Data Exchange for Groundwater Features (including wells, springs, borelogs and well constructions)

Now there is a scientific publication that explains the GWML2 standard, its development and application in hydrogeology in detail:

"GWML2 is an international standard for the online exchange of groundwater data that addresses the problem of data heterogeneity. This problem makes groundwater data hard to find and use because the data are diversely structured and fragmented into numerous data silos. Overcoming data heterogeneity requires a common data format; however, until the development of GWML2, an appropriate international standard has been lacking. GWML2 represents key hydrogeological entities such as aquifers and water wells, as well as related measurements and groundwater flows. It is developed and tested by an international consortium of groundwater data providers from North America, Europe, and Australasia, and facilitates many forms of data exchange, information representation, and the development of online web portals and tools."

Brodaric, B., Boisvert, E., Chery, L. et al. (2018) Enabling global exchange of groundwater data: GroundWaterML2 (GWML2)Hydrogeology Journal.

Related links and information:

WaterML2 Part 4: GroundWaterML2 (GWML2)

Groundwater SWG