Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

New culturomics paper mapping CES using Instagram

Figure 2 process flowchart of the new Zhao et al. paper in Marine Policy

Another nice lab output this week in Marine Policy led by Qiqi Zhao, a China Scholarship Council visiting PhD student in my lab last year, including a bunch of other lab-affiliated students as co-authors: Modelling cultural ecosystem services in agricultural dykelands and tidal wetlands to inform coastal infrastructure decisions: a social media data approach. It is a bit of a companion piece to the Chen et al (2020) piece in Ocean and Coastal Management, as it uses the same Instagram dataset collected for every dykeland area in Nova Scotia back in 2018, but in a very different way. Chen et al. took a very qualitative ‘small data’ approach to the dataset, analyzing the photographs (and accounts) only of posts that included the words dyke*/dike*/wetland/marsh in the captions. Zhao et al. used a ‘big data’ text mining approach, extracting and associating bi-grams (two-word strings) from geolocated post captions to particular cultural ecosystem services (CES), modelling those CES using SolVES and comparing (as with Chen et al.) dykeland and wetland services. Whereas Chen et al. only found direct mentions of freshwater marshes (specifically Miner’s Marsh), in Zhao et al. we leveraged the coordinates to locate those geolocated to tidal wetland sites.  This will help us better understand the tradeoffs associated with climate change-driven adaptations of the dykeland system in the Bay of Fundy, the focus of NSERC ResNet Landscape 1.

New paper on salience mapping of energy infrastructure

Figure 1 in Mohammadi et al (2023), showing the novel sequence of work in PhotoShop, Matlab and GIS to understand how energy infrastructure affects a view.

Really nice to see a paper come out this week in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal from Mehrnoosh Mohammadi’s MES thesis on renewable energy infrastructure in amenity (specifically vineyard) landscapes. This is the kind of thing that happens when a landscape architect joins your lab. This work involved a creative sequence of PhotoShop (to remove energy infrastructure seen in Instagram images taken at vineyards), Matlab (to calculate visual saliency), and ArcGIS analysis to understand the change in salience wrought by the removal. Cool stuff! This started out as a research note at submission, but got upgraded by the editor: A saliency mapping approach to understanding the visual impact of wind and solar infrastructure in amenity landscapes. Thanks to PhD student Yan Chen and former postdoc H. M. Tuihedur Rahman for helping out on this work.

Vale Will Steffen

Will Steffen

I had the immense pleasure and privilege of working with Will Steffen when I was a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies then Fenner School of Environment and Sustainability at the Australian National University, 2004-2010. He was a rock star in the world of climate science even then, innovating on the Anthropocene and planetary boundaries, but always had time to talk and laugh as well as to mentor and lead. So sad to hear that pancreatic cancer took him this week. A massive loss to the people and the planet. Vale, Will.

Social scientists at work

Samantha Howard, Brooke McWherter and I work through the early results of Samantha’s MES statistical results.

Term is well underway, now, with the third week of lectures done. Two great classes of students are spending 3 hours a week with me talking about Qualitative Data Analysis and the Socio-Political Dimensions of NRM (and one poor fellow is spending 6 hours as he is in both). In admidst there are the usual milestones being met. Proposal writing for some (Emily S and Paria), data generation for others (Brooke, Lara),  knee-deep data analysis for Sam (see above), writing thesis chapters/papers (Yan, Kate) and comprehensives (Keahna) including MES defense prep for Emily W, and papers finally coming out for some already completed (Mehrnoosh, stay tuned for upcoming posts). It will be a busy term but nice to look forward to a research-intensive sabbatical year starting July 1.

In addition, and the real reason for this post, there has been a lot of great news coming about my lab members recently. I learned that current MES Samantha Howard was named one of Starfish’s Top 25 under 25. I also heard that current IDPhD Kate Thompson has been hired as a 3-year limited term appointment in the School of Planning, starting this term. It’s reference-check season so I can see lots of progress among completed lab members, and it’s always exciting to watch them launch so smoothly.

Christmas in Australia

This site-based history caught my eye in Sydney . What an interesting idea, to reveal previous (tho largely settler) iterations of the city this way!

As the winter term starts, there is not a lot of time for me to spend reflecting on my wonderful Christmas holiday in Australia. A few landscape highlights are in order, however, so I will paste a few of them below.

One thing I saw that I particularly wanted to highlight here was the above plaque in Sydney. I’m always interested in landscape change, and this is the first time I’ve seen this kind of public record of past land uses of a particular site. In rural contexts, past landscape versions are usually still legible in later iterations, but in cities that is not the case, so making it explicit in this way feels interesting. I don’t know whose decision it was, but I didn’t notice any others.

This plaque reminds me of a great radio documentary by Craig Desson and Acey Rowe I heard on CBC a few years ago, called “Whose Condo Is It, Anyway?” (54 mins, a related CBC First Person article is here). Desson bought a condo and found himself wondering if he really owned it, and tracked all previous recorded uses of his land parcel, and ended up questioning the whole idea of ownership in a treaty context.

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