Geographic Information System
is an integration of cartographic and computer science.
GIS is a software and hardware system that helps scientists capture,
store, manipulate and display spatial or geographic information.
Both manually and digitally collected information can be integrated
into the system for analysis.
Information sources can range from
satellite images and maps to manually collected environmental
readings on variables such as water depth or chemistry. Researchers
combine different types of data layers to ask questions that
would be difficult or impossible to address through standard cartographic
approaches. GIS technology is capable of producing a wide range
of visual outputs, including maps, drawings, animations, and
other cartographic products.
GIS technology is especially powerful because it allows the user to
interactively manipulate information. Along with this interactive ability,
GIS can be linked with computer models to carry out simulations of given
environments and variables over time. For instance, by linking a map
with a storm water model, the system can predict how quickly salts or
other contaminants may move into a stream system. The capabilities
of GIS can help illustrate the human impact on surrounding environments
to students, resource managers and the public.
Water on the Web uses a technology called the Internet Map Server (IMS) to
allow students to
perform basic GIS operations online. We have assembled GIS data for most
of the real-time data locations, and provide links to other online data