ISMT E-158. Environmental Data Analysis

This introductory course introduces students to geospatial data, methods, and tools used for the study of global environmental change. Growing concern about human impact on the environment has led to the development of new observation and analysis tools to tackle and monitor types, magnitudes, and rates of environmental changes. Timely observations by Earth observation (EO) satellite systems and improved mapping and analysis tools are enabling a better understanding of the ecological interactions that underlie our Earth systems, which is critical for developing sustainable solutions. This course enables students to search and use satellite imagery in the context of a number of disciplines including environmental studies, ecology, geology, hydrology, and public health. Students learn the fundamentals of the EO systems and the tools (geo-portals, web-based tools, open-source software) to observe, monitor, and assess the changes occurring on or near the Earth's surface. They explore human and physical dimensions of environmental change, environmental conservation, and management by searching and analyzing global spatial data portals made available by various agencies and organizations (US Geological Survey, NASA, NOAA, WorldBank, FAO, and UNEP). Potential topics covered in case studies and exercises include land use and cover change (urban sprawl, deforestation, irrigated agriculture); extreme weather events (floods, droughts, typhoons, and hurricanes); human and ecological health (aerosol and air pollution, wetland and forest health); and food security and environmental sustainability (agriculture and water resources).


Magaly Koch







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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2019-2020 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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