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Homework 13: Using a GIS (Geographic Information System)

A GIS can be thought of as a digital base map over which layers of data can be displayed. GIS offers powerful ways for geographers to anlyze spatial data and make decisons. Many jobs rely on GIS technology; one reason why geography graduates are very employable. I’d like you to use the MAGIC GIS to find out a little more about Dawlish Warren as part of preparation for your coursework project.

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Before you start, be prepared for your computer to run slowly as you will be interacting with an enormous database buried deep in some high security government bunker.

Follow this link to the MAGIC map of Dawlish Warren

After a while you should be looking at a map of Dawlish Warren. The map will be complicated at first, so here are the basic tools you need to use:

To move the map (panning) click this symbol, and then drag the map

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To change the scale, click the symbol, then click again on the map to zoom in and out on the location you’ve selected.

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Now, lets make sense of the map data. At the moment all the available information is being displayed. Click this button to see all the data layers…

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This box will appear. Try turning all the layers off apart from Sites of Special Scientific Interest…

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Nothing will happen until you click this button!

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If the map slows down or you want to go back to the map with all the layers active, click this button.

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Reload the map or click here if you see this message for too long. While it is common for there to be delays when using GIS, this message also means that data is being collected, so be patient.

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Finally, the map tools will let you print off maps, save screen shots, measure distances and a lot more. Just mouse-over the different symbols to find out what each one does.

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Now it’s time to get mapping…


5 minute GIS Homework task:

1) Create a map that shows the extent of the tourist “honeypot” at Dawlish Warren. This the area outside the Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

2) Create a map that shows sand dunes and mudflats of the whole Exe estuary and the location of Dawlish Warren.

Print these  maps off if possible. Don’t upload to your Posterous. If you have problems with MAGIC the FAQ may help.

3) Use Where’s The Path? to look at different maps and photos of Dawlish Warren. Follow this link. WTP isn’t a real GIS, but it great for visualizing the Dawlish Warren area. It is best to use WTP in the morning, because it is limited in how many OS maps it can show in one day.