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Mucking about with Maps: Integrating Remote Sensing and Archival Maps in West Africa

January 18, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

On Friday, January 18, 2019, Colin West, PhD, will present Mucking about with Maps: Integrating Remote Sensing and Archival Maps in West Africa as part of the Carolina Population Center 2018-2019 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar series.
West is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center.

West is hosted by Carolina Population Center Fellow and Center Director Elizabeth Frankenberg. Frankenberg, Professor of Sociology, has served as the Director of Carolina Population Center since 2017.

Friday, Jan 18
Carolina Square Room 2002
123 West Franklin Street

Location information is here.


Land degradation is a complex global challenge that has historically attracted strong interdisciplinary scholarship. Especially in the world’s drylands, social and physical scientists have long collaborated on applied research to understand the drivers of desertification – land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. In fact, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD – 1996) explicitly recognizes it as a both a human and physical process. This presentation presents preliminary results on mapping both land degradation and rehabilitation in the Sahel of West Africa. Using archival maps of land-use/land-cover (LULC) and high-resolution satellite imagery, we explore how patterns of browning and greening vary across communities.

This talk will present three of our efforts to “muck around with maps” to identify areas of “greening” and “browning” in northern Burkina Faso. My colleague, Dr. Aaron Moody in the Dept. of Geography is a remote sensing expert and out effort has been guided by CPC’s pioneering work to “pixelize the social” and “socialize the pixel.” Northern Burkina Faso is a region where communities have invested heavily in widespread Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) measures. Experts have suggested that these local SWC investments may explain larger regional patterns of greening. The first part presents on our work combining a time series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI and Rainfall Estimate (RFE) to identify areas of greening and browning in Burkina Faso. The second presents our work converting archival maps of Land-Use/Land-cover from Yatenga, Burkina Faso to GIS layers using remote sensing and image processing techniques. The last part presents our work mapping localized greening and browning through participatory mapping and high-resolution satellite imagery. These demonstrate the utility of combining ethnography with remote sensing analysis to better understand LULC processes and patterns.

Instructors: To arrange for class attendance, contact CPC at by the Monday before the seminar

Streaming may be available and must be arranged at least one week in advance.

This seminar is part of the Carolina Population Center’s Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series.


January 18, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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