GEOG 6240: Large-scale Ecosystem Restoration

Taught 2009-2012 by Dr. Julian

Humans have damaged the health of ecosystems on a massive scale and are now faced with the challenge of rehabilitating these ecosystems in order to restore their integrity and sustainability.  This course examines the efforts to restore ecosystems at large scales, those that encompass multiple regions.  We focus our discussions on the scientific, sociopolitical, and economic challenges associated with restoring large systems.  Some of the restoration projects we have discussed are the Everglades, Platte River Basin, Chesapeake Bay, and Iraq marshlands. This seminar is designed for anyone with an interest in ecosystem restoration, and targets a diverse group of students, including (but not limited to) ecologists, economists, engineers, geologists, geographers, landscape architects, and those interested in international relations.  The course includes restoration site visits.

 

Course fieldtrip at the ecosystem restoration project (http://www.restorekaena.org/) on Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Hawaii. Professor Julian is front and center.

 

Field visit to a wetlands and Longleaf Pine restoration project in western Florida.

GIS 4553/5553: GIS Applications

Every Fall Semester

Students apply GIS in different setting for spatial decision making. The students will gain experience with larger applications and will collaborate as a group. While solving realworld problems, students get many opportunities to visualize and analyze vastly different datasets. We address decision support requirements for policy and planning, and technical requirements of spatial data sources and processing. The focus of the course is on analytical applications and students are assumed to have at least a general background in GIS theory and practice before joining this course.

GIS 4244/5244: Digital Image Processing

Every Spring Semester

This course exposes students to a variety of pixel-oriented analysis of intermediate resolution remote-sensing image. We will discuss the following topics: Image statistics, Multispectral transformations, Fourier transformations, filters, image enhancements, classification, change detection, time series analysis and phenology analysis. In addition, the students will be exposed to the development and programming of data-driven algorithms in the ENVI/IDL combination. The students will learn how to extend the ENVI interface in IDL in order to implement new methods and algorithm. Graduate students are expected to reveal leadership roles in the discussion and decision making process. They will also be held to higher standards with respect to report writing and analysis. Thinking outside the box is encouraged and rewarded.

GEOG 4203/5203: Geomorphology

Taught 2010-2012 by Dr. Julian

This course in Geomorphology investigates linkages between landscape forms and processes with emphasis on soil, fluvial, and aeolian processes. The course has a strong field component, including two required weekend fieldtrips.  Some lectures also have field/lab components.  A large portion of the class is devoted to group projects where students combine knowledge from lectures and readings with field techniques and data to demonstrate their grasp on fundamental processes in geomorphology.

Fieldtrip to Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma to study tectonic and fluvial processes on one of the oldest mountains on Earth.  One team is surveying a longitudinal profile while two other teams are doing Wolman pebble counts.

Students collecting soil cores on a sand dune in Little Sahara State Park, Oklahoma. Well, two of the students are coring, one is supervising, and the other four are providing motivational support.  Coring sand dunes is much harder than it looks.  Data from soil cores was combined with remotely sensed imagery to better understand aeolian processes of these active dunes.

Class on top of one of the 20 meter (60 feet) high sand dunes.  Students suggested we rent an ATV next time.

Soils fieldwork in Oliver’s Woods, located on the historical floodplain of the Canadian River near Norman, Oklahoma. Professor Julian (center) showing students how to take soil cores in wetlands.

GEOG3890/ZOO4970: Remote Sensing and Phenology

Every Spring Semester

The study of changes in phenology, and in particular land surface phenology (LSP), provides an important approach to change detection in terrestrial ecosystems. Changes in land surface phenology (sometimes called “greenness”) have often been detected as trends in Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) products over time Increases in “greenness” are frequently interpreted as resulting from climate change, in particular warming. Vegetation phenology studies the relation between climate and the timing of biological events such as budburst, leaf-out, and plant flowering. Phenology varies by species and is influenced by many factors, such as soil temperature, air temperature, solar illumination, day length, and soil moisture, all of which can vary depending on location and time.

In this course we will focus on the analysis of land surface phenology. Land surface phenology (LSP) is the study of the spatio-temporal patterns in the vegetated land surface as observed by satellite sensors. Due to the coarse spatial resolution of satellite sensors, LSP deals with mixtures of land covers and thus is distinct from the traditional notion of a species-centric phenology. Land surface phenology metrics are primarily based on image time series of vegetation indices (VI) from optical sensors. The phenological metrics aim to retrieve onset of greening, senescence, timing of the maximum of the growing season, and growing season length based on analysis of the VI curve.

This course is split into a Remote Sensing oriented section and a phenology oriented section.

GEOG 3890/5990: Soil and Society

Taught 2010-2013 by Dr. Julian

This course explores the importance of soil resources for environmental and socioeconomic sustainability.  Soil science is introduced and referenced throughout the semester, but the majority of the course focuses on soil’s value to societies.  Specific topics explored include soil geography, historical abuses of soil resources, effects of land use change, and current conservation efforts.  Local and international studies are examined.  The course includes two field trips.

Class visiting the green roof on top of the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

 

Student Seth Gainey trying to measure up to the grassland roots at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

GEOG 3203: Principles of Physical Geography

Taught 2010-2013 by Dr. Julian

This course explores more rigorously the concepts introduced in introductory physical geography. At the end of the course, students are expected to have a process-based understanding of four interrelated core areas: Geomorphology, Climatology, Biogeography, and Human-Environment Interactions. A large portion of the class is devoted to applied projects where students combine knowledge from lectures and readings with spatial data collection and analysis to demonstrate their grasp on fundamental processes in physical geography.

Students examining weathering processes on top of Mount Scott in the Wichita Mountains, some of the oldest mountains on Earth.

 

“Alright class, tell me how this little stream carved out this deep canyon?”

 

“Next question: Why is the grass in this prairie dog town shorter and greener than the surrounding prairie?”