GRG 360-G

Fall 2005

Instructor: Paul F. Hudson, Ph.D.
GRG 336
E-MAIL: pfhudson@mail.utexas.edu
Phone #: 232-1554
Office Hours T/3:45-4:45



Course Description
Advances in geographical sciences and the proliferation of environmental databases make Geographers well poised to conduct sophisticated environmental analysis on an array of topics. The purpose of this course is to introduce Geographers to the practice and theory of utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a method for analysis of environmental problems. To this end, the class utilizes a lecture and lab format. Lectures will emphasize general principles and theory in GIS, and the nature of spatial data systems. Labs will be oriented towards concepts discussed in class by employing ArcGIS to the display and analysis of spatial data, particularly environmental data. At the end of the semester students should feel comfortable applying GIS to a range of environmental issues, and have a solid understanding of the procedures and data necessary to conduct the appropriate geographical analysis.

Notice: It is not possible to perform well in this course without spending a substantial amount of time, beyond the class hours, in the Holz Laboratory (GRG 206) and in the Environmental Information Systems Laboratory (GRG 302). Student's should review their course schedule to insure that they will be able to dedicate a sufficient amount of time to the course, and withdraw if they are not able to make the commitment (from 2-20 hours per week depending on the lab and student competence).

Students should be of upper division or graduate level standing. Students are not expected to have prior knowledge of GIS, but should have at a minimum some training in the basics of computers, and the equivalent of introductory physical geography.

A large part of the course is a series of carefully designed labs. The labs will become increasingly sophisticated as the semester progresses and are cumulative in that the later labs will utilize skills from earlier in the semester. You will work with your TA in your lab section, but you can also expect to complete the labs outside of lab hours. Labs are due the following week on your personal course directory. If you are having trouble completing your lab assignments do not hesitate to contact the teaching assistant or myself. You will need to purchase CDs for laboratory assignments and project. For a couple of the advanced labs you will work with a partner.

Final Project
Each graduate student will complete a final project related to some aspect of watershed sciences pertaining to the Texas environment. The project will include a concise paper (3000-4000 words) published on the web, an oral presentation, proposal, and an ArcGIS project. The effort is expected to be comprehensive in its analysis and output, and of professional quality. The paper should include appropriate data sources, citations, tables, and figures (adhering to a journal format).  Each graduate student must submit a formal proposal outlining the purpose, objectives, and methods.

Text and Readings

Course Texts (available at the University Co-Op)
Chang, K. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, 3rd Ed. McGraw Hill, New York, 400 p.

Ormsby, T., Napoleon, E., Burke, C., and Feaster, L. Getting to Know ArcGIS. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA, 541 p.

You will be assigned readings from the online text Fundamentals of Physical Geography (FPG), The Geographers Craft, other online sources, and class hand outs.


Attendance: You are required to attend all classes and labs.

Lateness: Late labs will be assigned a 5% reduction per day. The labs require a lot of time to grade, so please do not ask for extensions.

Lab rules: All students must read and comply with the laboratory which are also posted in the Environmental Information Systems Laboratory and are online. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with EISL policies. Failure to do so may result in the loss of your lab privileges.

Academic Integrity: All students are expected to adhere to University policies concerning scholastic integrity. Any form of scholastic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with in an appropriate manner as outlined by the University. "Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, and any act designed to give unfair academic advantage to the student (such as, but not limited to, submission of essentially the same written assignment for two courses without the prior permission of the instructor, providing false or misleading information in an effort to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment), or the attempt to commit such an act." Student's should refer to the University guidelines on Academic Dishonesty (section 11-802).

Disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641.

Two exams @ 40%

Ten labs @ 60% (graduate students: final project = 30%, labs = 30%)

Grading Scale
90-100: A
80-89: B
70-79: C
60-69: D
< 60: F

Lecture Topics / Labs
Th, 9-1 Course introduction, GIS defined

Ch. 1

Foote, K.E. and Lynch, M. 2000. GIS: Context, concepts, and definitions,The Geographer's Craft, University of Colorado at Boulder.

ArcGIS: Ch. 1, 2, 3, 4



Lab overview, setup accounts and introduction to procedures

T, 9-6 Development and applications of GIS, GIS Data Sources

Ch. 1, 2

GIS Timeline, ESRI Map Gallary

Dana, P. 1995. Map projections and Coordinate systems overview, The Geographer's Craft, University of Colorado at Boulder.

ArcGIS: Ch.13

Geospatial Data Resources

USGS mapping

Th, 9-8 Datums, Projections, Coordinate systems, Overview of ArcGIS

Lab 1: Datums and projections in ArcGIS; GIS Data Sources

T, 9-13 Basics of cartographic design and classification

Ch. 8, 9

ArcGIS: Ch. 5, 6, 7, 18, 19

USGS Map Scales


Th, 9-15 GIS data considerations

Lab 2: Cartographic Design and Classification

T, 9-20 Data models: Vector

Ch. 3, 4, 5

Foote, K.E. and Huebner, D.J. 1996. Database concepts, The Geographer's Craft, University of Colorado at Boulder.

FPG Ch. 10 (y, z)

ArcGIS: Ch. 14, 15, 16

Th, 9-22  

Lab 3: Floodplain mapping in the lower Guadalupe valley

T, 9-27 Data models: Raster

Ch. 6, 7

FPG Ch. 8 (b, k, l, m, n)

ArcGIS: Ch. 8, 9

Th, 9-29  

Lab 4: Proximity analysis for pipeline routing in an urban environment, Austin, TX

T, 10-4

Vector and raster analysis

Final Project assigned (graduate students), Lab partners (undergrads)

Ch. 10, 11

ArcGIS: Ch. 10, 11, 12

Th, 10-6

Lab 5: Overlay analysis for floodplain greenbelt design in an urban environment, Austin, TX

Instructions for Georeferencing scanned images

T, 10-11 ArcHydro and drainage network delineation

 Ch. 12


FPG, Ch. 8 (aa, n); Ch. 10 (aa, ab)

ArcHydro handouts and hydrology readings

Th 10-13

Lab 6: Drainage network delineation and morphometric analysis using ArcHydro, upper Guadalupe basin

T, 10-18 Relational databases, GIS design

Ch. 6

ArcGIS: Ch. 14, 15, 16

Th, 10-20 Final project proposals due; Land cover classification
Lab 7: A geomorphic approach to conservation planning and resource management: A case study of Golden Cheeked Warbler - Black Capped Vireo habitat, Honey Creek basin, Texas
T, 10-25 Land cover classification and GIS design

U.S. Geological Survey National Land Cover Data Classification system (revised Anderson)

Th, 10-27  

Lab 7: Continued...

T, 11-1 Global Positioning System Dana, P.H. 1994. Global Positioning Systems,The Geographer's Craft, University of Colorado at Boulder.  
Th, 11-3

Lab 8: GPS - Floodplain mapping and error analysis

T, 11-8

Raster modeling, Soil erosion modeling using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE)

Ch. 14

Soil erosion and RUSLE readings

FPG, Ch. 10 (w, x)

Th, 11-10  

Lab 9: Utilizing the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model soil erosion in the Sierra Madre Orientals of eastern Mexico

T, 11-15 (field) Floodplain mapping with Brunton and tape (Waller Creek)

Ch. 13

Floodplain readings

Th, 11-17 (field) Floodplain mapping along Waller Creek, continued...

Compass and tape surveying

Lab 9: Soil erosion continued..., web design and Powerpoint overview

T, 11-22

Spatial interpolation

Ch. 13

Th, 11-24 Thanksgiving holiday, no class

Lab 10: Spatial interpolation of floodplain topography and flooding; lower Guadalupe River, Texas

T, 11-29 Spatial interpolation    
Th, 12-1 Class Presentations - spring 2004, Class Presentations - spring 2004

Lab 10: Spatial interpolation... Final project completion

Final Projects are due Friday December 2nd
T, 12-6 GIS, GISc, and Geography; Review Wright, D.J., Goodchild, M.F., and Proctor, J.D. 1997. Demystifying the Persistent Ambiguity of
GIS as "Tool" Versus "Science".
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87(2): 346-362, 1997.

NCGIA readings
Th, 12-8

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created 8/'98, posted by pfh 5/12/'05, last edited by pfh 9/28/'05