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Tiffany Vance's Ph.D. 2007

If You Build It, Will They Come? Evolution Towards the Application of Multi-Dimensional GIS to Fisheries Oceanography

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Geography, Oregon State University, Fall 2007
IGERT Doctoral Fellow and Minor in Ecosystem Informatics

Graduate committee: D. Wright, A.J. Kimerling, R. Doel, G. Matzke, B. D'Ambrosio, N. Pisias

Tiffany Vance
NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Seattle, WA
The development of new technologies in science is a balance between existence and use. There are three versions of this duality – something is built and users come, something is built and users don’t come, and, finally, potential users show up but the ballpark has not yet been built. In each instance there is a combination of three factors at work. The first is a scientific need for a type of data or analysis. The second is a technology or technique developed to meet the need; and the third is a perception that using the technology is somehow "better" that the existing tools and that the tool is easy to use.

This work examines closely the development of a tool within oceanography – the Stommel diagram for displaying the time and space spectra of oceanographic phenomena – and the spread of the use of the diagram to other disciplines. The diagram was the product of a number of elements - the mind of a truly original oceanographer, the development of equipment able to collect the detailed temporal and spatial data used to create the plot, and the rise of "big oceanography," which led Stommel to argue graphically for taking care in the design of expeditions.

Understanding the spread of the Stommel plot provides a viewpoint for examining the unexpectedly slow development of multi-dimensional geographic information systems (GIS). The development of GIS’s began in the 1970's. Data structures to hold multi-dimensional data have been developed, tools for multi-dimensional map algebra have been created, and test applications have been developed. The current non-development of multi-dimensional GIS is examined as a background for creating and disseminating GeoModeler, a prototype of scientific GIS able to ingest and display multi-dimensional data. Taking advantage of recent technical developments, we have created a scientific GIS that can display three-dimensional oceanographic data. GeoModeler is used to visually explore and analyze the relationship between water temperature and larval walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) growth in Shelikof Strait, Alaska.

Download Dissertation (7.7 Mb PDF file)
Also available in the ScholarsArchive@OSU permanent collection

Dissertation Defense (pdf)

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