Geoinformatics in Eco-Climatic Studies

Geoinformatics in Eco-Climatic Studies

A. Ayanlade (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria), M.O. Jegede (African Institute for Science Policy and Innovation (AISPI), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria) and P.B. Borisade (The Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys (Rectas), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife Nigeria, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch307
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Background

Geoinformatics is a modern technology that provides accurate means of measuring the extent and pattern of changes, and other related information about environment (Boakye et al., 2008). The term “Geoinformation” consists of two main words: “Geo” which means earth’s surface or the environment; and “informatics” stands for fact about something. Thus, Geoinformation is the science and technology of communicating the evidences about the state of the earth’s surface. It is known for technological robustness to assess spatial and temporal change occurring on the earth’s surface (Yang & Liu, 2005; Ehlers, 2008). In the recent years, Geoinformatics has been used to provide electronic representation about earth’s surface and man’s interaction with the earth. Geoinformatics has emerged in the last two decades as an exciting multi-disciplinary endeavour, spanning such areas as Geography, Cartography, Remote Sensing, Image Processing, Environmental Sciences and Computer Aspects of environmental studies.

In general, the science and technology of Geoinformatics encompasses application of remote sensing and GIS data and methodology. GIS is an acronym that stands for Geographic Information Systems while the remote sensing data are those data collected through various devices without human (researcher) contact with field. GIS, in actual sense, is not a new development, it is only recently that it has gained widespread acceptance as a tool to assess both spatial and non-spatial issues. GIS was initially referred to as the management of information with a geographic component primarily stored in vector form with associated attributes. This definition quickly became too limiting with advances in software and recent digital ideas about earth. GIS involves spatiotemporal data analysis using software, hardware, people and approaches to acquire, store, update and manipulate for presenting information about the human environment. GIS could be seen as a digital computing environment and human interactions with the environment. For environmental change analysis, GIS uses both remote sensing and non-remote sensing data. Non-remote sensing data may include field observation, topographic, geological and edaphic data. It may also include terrain data, as well as socio-economic survey data, and reports relating to human environmental relation. Though non-remote sensing data are those data acquired by other means than remote sensing approach, they are sometimes used in Geoinformatics analysis, for identification and interpretation of environmental features and their significant change over time (Campbell 2002). In general, it has been shown in several other recent studies that Geoinformatics is not only good for preparing precise environmental change assessment, but also for observing changes at regular intervals of time, it is cost and time effective (Kreuter et al., 2011; Ahmad, 2012; Aguirre-Gutiérrez et al., 2012; Avitabile et al., 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Remote Sensing: Remote sensing is the science and technology of acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon upon the earth’s surface without physical contact with the object. It is process or methods of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, using devices such as aircraft or satellites.

Landcover: Landcover relates to the composition and characteristics of land surface elements. Land cover is the biophysical state of the earth’s surface and immediate subsurface. Landcover describes the physical state of the land surface, in terms of vegetation, cropland, mountains, built-up and water/wetland (Meyer 1995 cited in Moser 1996).

Landuse: FAO (1995) defined land use as “the function or purpose for which the land is used by the local human population and can be defined as the human activities which are directly related to land, making use of its resources or having an impact on them.” Landuse might be as well-defined as the spatial and temporal rate at which man utilizes land resources for cultural, social, economic other purposes. Landuse relates to the human activities and interactions with physical environment.

Climate: Climate is the characteristic condition of the earth’s atmosphere, at a given place over a considerable period of time. Climate summarizes the weather normal characteristics of a unit of the earth’s surface. Thus, climate variability is the fluctuations of climate naturally on a time scale ranging from days, weeks and year to few decades, including altered frequencies of extreme events while climate change is a longer term fluctuation from decades to centuries.

Geoinformatics: Geoinformatics might be referred to the academic discipline or career of working with geo-data for better understanding and interpretation of human interaction with the earth’s surface. Geoinformatics might be defined in a relatively broad term as a number of different technologies, approaches, processes, and methods to interpreter issue and controversy relating to the earth’s surface for collaborative decision making. Geoinformation can combine different types of dataset, say from GIS, remote sensing and non-remote sensing, and socio-economic to generated results inform of maps or other forms of reports which allow better interpretation, management and decision making about human activities upon earth’s surface.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): There are different opinions about the definition of GIS. What is common to these definitions found in the literature is that GIS is a systematic way of capture, capture, store, manipulate and displaying geospatial data and this process consist of implementation of software, hardware, data and human skill. For example, ESRI defined a GIS as computer-based technology for mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth. The science and technology of GIS involve query and statistical analysis of database for unique visualization of issues relating to the earth surface. NASA viewed GIS as “an integrated system of computer hardware, software, and trained personnel linking topographic, demographic, utility, facility, image and other resource data that is geographically referenced.”

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