Dynamic Landscapes in Open Source GIS

Center for Geospatial Analytics

Helena Mitasova, Anna Petrasova, Vaclav Petras, Brendan Harmon

Maps go digital with GRASS

Year 1987: Let William Shatner do the introduction

Motivation for geovisualization

  • Earth systems monitoring: massive data collected
  • Geospatial analytics: identify trends, patterns, vulnerabilities
  • Modeling and simulations: predict impacts
  • Planning and decision making

Dynamic landscapes in GRASS

First open source GIS with dynamic landscape support: hydrologic and erosion modeling

1983: GRASS started at USACERL
1993: Dynamic Surfaces: GRASS4.1 SG3d

2014: GRASS7 - new generation tools for dynamic landscapes

Water and Sediment flow


Overland water flow: Balsam mountain, NC


Path sampling method for solving the flow continuity equations


Groundwater pollution plume

10 years of well monitoring data: 3D well locations

Groundwater pollution plume

Dynamic volume from 10 years of well monitoring data

Current research and education examples

  • Mountain top mining: Keyford mine, West Virginia
  • Erosion modeling: Yakima, WA training grounds
  • Solar radiation and cast shadows: NCSU Centennial Campus
  • Tangible landscapes
  • Coastal sand dune management: Jockey's Ridge, NC

Mountain top mining

Student project in Multidimensional Geospatial modeling course: Ryan Thomson

Kayford mountain, WV: impacts of anthropogenic topographic change

Interactive mountain top mining

Google Earth view does not provide sufficient 3D resolution to analyze the topographic features

Students use the T&V facility to visualize high resolution lidar-based DEM of the mine

Yakima training grounds: Erosion modeling

Project to identify areas vulnerable to high erosion, prioritize conservation and erosion mitigation resources

Interactive Yakima: Sediment transport capacity

Centennial Campus

3D data acquired by lidar in 2001 and 2013, used as study area for several courses

Lidar data processing, surface runoff assessment, trails planning

Centennial Campus

Solar radiation modeling: winter and summer solstice dynamics

Centennial Campus

Fire spread modeling using fuel estimates from lidar data and with a fire break:

Interactive Centennial Campus

Jockey's Ridge sand dunes

Active dune system within fixed state park boundaries

What is the rate of migration? Is there loss of sand?

Jockey's Ridge evolution

How does the landform change? How to save it?

Jockey's Ridge migration 1974 - 2008

Jockey's Ridge 16m, 18m, 20m contour evolution isosurfaces

Interactive Jockey's Ridge

Park management: focus on preserving processes rather than features - active dunes as living landscape

Tangible landscape