Ecosystem Modeling Tried to Predict Osama’s Possible Whereabouts – in 2009


“Geographers Had Predicted Osama’s Possible Whereabouts” – ScienceInsider*. I had not seen this 2009 paper that is now getting renewed interest with Osama Bin Laden’s discovery and death, which applied biogeographic theories to create a probabilistic spatial model to predict his occurrence. Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew, geography professors at UCLA, and their more enterprising undergraduate students in their remote sensing class asked biogeographic questions in light of available remote sensing data to address the probabilistic occurrence of an individual, instead of a species. Certainly a novel twist to modeling, and with incomplete but public information on their target, they formed a hypothesis.

Google Earth Engine

Earth, Mapping Data

Google Earth Engine. Unveiled in Cancun, Mexico, at the International Climate Change Conference, Google announced its latest planetary visualizations. From Google’s blog: ” Google Earth Engine is a new technology platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite imagery and data—current and historical—online for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. The platform will enable scientists to use our extensive computing infrastructure—the Google “cloud”—to analyze this imagery.”

You can browse through different layers in the Data Catalog tab then press Open in Workspace, an adjacent tab for a Google Maps interface. The Gallery tab embeds the 3D Google Earth to view and interact with Featured Data.

I was struck by the forest cover loss in the last decade in the Congo– the product of over 8000 Landsat images!

This is necessarily collaborative, to make accessible these kinds of data, the breadth of historic remote sensing data and products from remote sensing data, and more importantly invites collaboration across many disciplines. So I am looking forward to see what happens here. Congratulations to Rebecca Moore!