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MES/MESc Seminar Series: Interactive critical dendro-provenancing

2 Mar 2017
2 Mar 2017
12:30 PM
1:30 PM

Interactive critical dendro-provenancing: The art and science of disseminating interdisciplinary research using web-based GIS

Kirsten Greer, Geography and History
Megan Prescott, GIS Technician

Date: Thursday, March 2, 2017
Time: 12.30-1.30
Location: RSAC-202

How can we use geographic information systems (GIS) to foster integrative research projects on global environmental change from a historical and geophysical perspective? This presentation provides a case study on how web-based GIS can be applied to disseminate interdisciplinary research to a general audience using our SSHRC project “Empire, Trees, and Climate in the North Atlantic: Towards Critical Dendro-Provenancing.” Historic timbers from heritage buildings and shipwrecks in Bermuda provide clues into past cultures and climates. Considering that British North American timber was integral to ship-building, imperial infrastructure (dockyards, fortifications, government buildings), and maritime supremacy in the age of sail, our research aims to uncover and interpret those clues for the purpose of better understanding contemporary cultures and climates, which linked Bermuda to Atlantic Canada and the Caribbean in the nineteenth-century British Empire.

Data from historical and scientific spheres are linked through geographical context using the platforms of ESRI's Web App Builder and Story Maps. Dendro-provenancing is complemented with interactive maps that explore how flows of timber were shaped by imperial expansion , as well as the linkages between imperial expansion, landscape change and climate within the context of Bermuda. Vantages of the Bermudian landscape are showcased through a collection of geotagged images including photographs of geographer, Robert Swanton Platt (1919), watercolours of British military artist Johnson Savage (1833-1836), and contemporary photographs from the research team of "Empires Trees Climate". From here modern satellite imagery and georeferenced historical colonial maps and surveys may be interactively overlain alongside geotagged vantages to facilitate the exploration of land use change and perspectives of place. The project's research questions are presented while simultaneously allowing users to explore their own research question through interactive layers and the download of data and historical records. The result is a prototype that integrates data from all spheres of an interdisciplinary project, fostering complementary presentation of information that visually highlights their linkages. We also highlight how we envision using the prototype for research on the global environmental histories and geographies of Ontario’s “Near North.”


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