Data from the deep: Implications for the GIS community

Dawn J. Wright, Michael F. Goodchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The traditional home of GIS in terms of managing,mapping, modelling and making decisions based on spatial data has been in the land-based sciences and professions. This has resulted in a concentration of GIS on land-based 'application domains' (sets of GIS applications with common properties and data formats), with a relatively homogeneous group of users and applications addressing the solutions of largely related problems. This atmosphere has tended to obscure the essential nature of GIS as an ubiquitous, heterogeneous tool, having utility far beyond land-based problems. We must consider remedying this if we expect GIS to play an increasingly important role in Earth system science or global change research. We therefore propose the expansion of a largely landbased GIS research agenda to the development of systems focusing more on the marine environment, for there are many ways that GIS may be improved by tackling the problems associated with oceanographic data. The discussion is confined largely to deep ocean science which rarely appears in the GIS or geographical literature (as opposed to coastal zone studies). We identify research issues endemic to oceanographic applications of GIS that will advance the body of knowledge in GIS design and architecture, as well as the body of knowledge in the broader field of geographical information science. They include the development of spatial data structures with the ability to vary their relative positions and values over time, geostatistical interpolation of data that are sparse in one dimension but abundant in the others, and new data models that make the feature-based query, search and retrieval of objects and continuous fields in very large spatial databases more efficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-528
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


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