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Morphometric indices are powerful tools for investigating the interplay of tectonics, lithology, and climate on stream channels and mountain landscapes. The tutorials provided here are aimed at the graduate student in the Geosciences whose research involves DEMs and upland watersheds. Increasingly, my students are writing the tutorials.
What’s On This Website
G4G brings a little order to the ever-expanding GIS universe. First, the site provides a set of how-to instructions on many things Geoscientists want to do with GIS. We generally do not supply example datasets. Judging by the number of enthusiastic responses from visitors to the site, we know we’re filling a need unmet by most university courses. Second, the site offers a response to academic journals in the Geosciences that omit or highly abbreviate the GIS methods used to generate results reported (JGR is a notable exception). Clear methods are repeatable methods. With clarity our goal, we read dozens of peer-reviewed articles each year and reverse-engineer the steps likely used by the authors. My students and I publish here what we figure out. Third, we offer a place for students around the world to ask questions and get answers.
Currently there are no textbooks on this stuff. I’ll probably end up writing one – something like “50 Lessons in Geomorphometry” or “GIS Best Practices for the Geosciences”. Until then, the lessons posted here and on those sites listed in Useful GIS Links will have to suffice. Be sure to check out these books:
– Burbank & Anderson (2012) Tectonic Geomorphology – 2nd Edition
– Pelletier (2008) Quantitative Modeling of Earth Surface Processes
– Jensen & Jensen (2013) Introductory Geographic Information Systems
– Bolstad (2012) Introduction to GIS – 4th Edition
– Felleisen et al. (1993) How to Design Programs – MIT Press/HTDP.org (Free Book)
– Hengl & Reuter (2009) Geomorphometry: Concepts, software, applications
– Anything written by David Montgomery, Kellen Whipple, or their grad students
Keeping It Simple
As Editor, I’ve chosen to keep things simple in order to reach a wider audience (mostly grad students). Nearly all lessons utilize standard 10m or 30m DEMs, but many of the methods will translate to LiDAR elevation data with certain caveats. Instructions are for ArcGIS 10.x, the Spatial Analyst extension, and the 3D Analyst extension. In places, program R code, GME details, or Excel examples are included. Relevant journal articles, books, and websites are referenced at the end of each lesson.
Why Not Allow Comments?
I prefer to correspond directly with people via email. Comments are great for large websites that get hundreds of thousands of visitors, but not so great for small sites like this one. I am uninterested in moderating online comments. G4G is still small enough to treat people as people. If you write me, I’ll get back to you.
We try to cite pertinent journal articles, books, websites, and online videos that discuss the central concept of each lesson. Referenced works contain the full equations & calculations or present an alternative method. We try to be comprehensive and transparent, but sometimes miss things. Please let us know if we have overlooked a key article (or one of yours).
Please Reference Us
Please reference us in your manuscripts and presentations.
Cooley, S.W., 2013, GIS4Geomorphology: http://www.gis4geomorphology.com (Accessed June 1, 2013)
Cooley, S.W. (January 1, 2010). Watershed Delineation Lesson. In www.GIS4Geomorphology.com. Retrieved June 1, 2013, from http://www.gis4geomorphology.com/watershed
Why Not Just Write Code?
Code ninjas will certainly devise more efficient ways to accomplish everything on the site. I encourage students to learn to code. Any science-oriented programming software will do. Start with MatLab, Python, R, or even HTML/CSS. Coding skills quicken the pace of discovery and can offer something to fall back on in a lousy job market. Coding skills are valuable and the software is readily available to students. When the opportunity arises to learn a little code, seize it. Just a little interested? Read the Preface of this book: htdp.org.
‘STEAM’ not ‘STEM’
Adding a little art to science makes all the difference. The best scientists know this. Art makes mediocre minds uncomfortable. Avoid graduate advisers who lack artistic skills and a drive to create from scratch. And avoid Utah State; there are better choices out there.
This website is under constant revision and user feedback is always welcome. I receive emails from folks all over the world regularly. New lessons are added and old ones are updated as time allows. If something isn’t clear, its probably because no one is actively working on it. Instructions improve when someone writes us in need of help.
Tips & Fixes for ArcGIS
See the Tips & Fixes post for ways to improve your workflow in ArcGIS.
All photographs on the site are my own unless otherwise noted. Most were collected during trips and climbs in the Rocky Mountain West.