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Using Digital Earth Technology in Sustainable Development Education

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1 Using Digital Earth Technology in Sustainable Development Education
Professor Simon Haslett Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching University of Wales, Newport Presented at the Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, University of Hertfordshire, 22 June 2010

2 Introduction HEA-GEES funded project 2008-2010.
Collaboration between University of Wales, Newport, and Bath Spa University. Project aims: provide an overview of current use of Google Earth in sustainable development education, highlight existing cases of best practice, develop a new blended learning example(s) and monitor student engagement, make recommendations for embedding in diverse curricula, and suggest further developments for its future use.

3 Google Earth and ESD health (e.g. Boulos, 2005),
planning (Ball, Capanni and Watt, 2007), tourism (e.g. Cao et al., 2006), water technology (Imberger, Wood and Marti, 2006), biodiversity (e.g. Katsarapong et al., 2007), archaeology (e.g. Parcak, 2007), and urban development (e.g. Pugnaloni et al., 2007) geography (a number of examples emerging)


5 Case study development
GE3012 Climate and Environment Honours Level 20 credit team taught module Delivered 1 hour lecture + 2 hour prac, plus one field day One semester of 12 weeks Assessed by essay and exam (50% each) Develop 2 week climate change and sustainable development lab prac to support exam topic i.e. integrating (palaeo)climate change and SD

6 Exercise brief “This practical aims to explore the links between palaeoclimate research, present climate change impacts, and related sustainable development issues. In this practical you will examine a proxy (geochemical) palaeoclimate record collected from an Ocean Drilling Program core (ODP site 658) taken in the eastern tropical Atlantic, offshore Cap Blanc (Mauritania, western North Africa). This will be followed by a consideration of modern climate change impacts in the region and the associated sustainable development issues.”

7 Linking research and teaching
On Minerva [Blackboard], you are provided with an Excel table of geochemical data from Haslett and Davies (2006). Plot the Aluminium (Al) data against time and smooth with a 3-point moving average … If Al deposition at this site represents dust transported by aeolian processes offshore from the Sahara/Sahel: Interpret the sequence. Identify any major palaeoclimate cycles/events present or absent (i.e. Heinrick Events, LGM, Bond Cycles, Dansgaard-Oeschger Events) Is there any relationship between palaeoclimate and dust input? What is the implication of this palaeoclimate research for understanding modern climate change impacts?

8 Haslett & Davies (2006, TIBG)
Cool sea-surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic increases North African precipitation, vegetation cover, and reduces aridity.

9 Google Earth Component
Using Google Earth: Briefly ‘fly over’ the modern landscape of Mauritania. For Nouakchott, examine the eastern margin of the urban environment, and: Describe the condition of the urban-desert margin. Interpret the current dynamic status of the urban-desert margin. Is there a link between the modern landscape and climate change? Is there any evidence that measures have been deployed to enhance the sustainable development of the area?




13 “There is a high frequency of active winds and desert winds may blow through the city as often as 160 days per year, leading to greatly reduced visability” (Chenal & Kaufmann, 2008, Cities, 25, ).

14 Nouakchott: urban – desert margin.

15 Green Belt of Nouakchott.
Funded by Walloon Regional Finance (Belgian Government Sustainable Development initiative ). Each tree is given 200 litres of water. 1270 ha protected in this way, but already c. 400 ha are threatened by overgrazing and lack of maintenance.

16 Prosopis planting Leptadenia fences

17 Link sustainable development actions to geomorphology?

18 Read: Jensen and Hajej (2001, Unasylva, Vol. 52, pp
Read: Jensen and Hajej (2001, Unasylva, Vol. 52, pp ) who review aspects of infrastructure problems (‘Road of Hope’) associated with climate change impacts in Mauritania. 1. Rainfall reduced by 49% from towards end of century (152 mm/yr to 77 mm/yr) 2. Sand inundated 25% of roads over the period (150/600 km of road)


20 1988-2008 Environmental problems: water shortage, aridification, salinization, etc
Linking back to palaeoclimate: sea-surface temperature and climate change relationships Nouakchott founded major phase of urban development, but few problems with sand inundation Urban data from Chenal & Kaufmann (2008)

21 Conclusions Student feedback has been collected but not yet collated or analysed, but anecdotal evidence suggests Google Earth is a useful and enjoyable tool to use in a blended learning setting. Google Earth offers a powerful potential tool for investigating the impacts of climate change and local sustainable development issues anywhere on earth. Applications to many subject areas. Further details on

22 Project Publications Chilcott, M., Haslett, S. K., Climate change and sustainable development education through the lens of Google Earth. Teaching Earth Sciences, 35 (1), Haslett, S. K., Prior use of Google Earth by undergraduate Geography students. Planet (HEA-GEES), No. 22, Haslett, S. K., Savage, N., The Sands of Time: A Google Earth Approach to Climate Change Education. Newport, University of Wales []. Haslett, S. K., Skellern, A., Chilcott, M., Longman, D., Climate change education through a blended learning Google Earth exercise. In: S. K. Haslett, D. France, S. Gedye (eds) Pedagogy of Climate Change. HEA-GEES, in press. Further details on

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