Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems

Time-lapse images created with geographic information systems (GIS) help scientists understand complex natural and human-related processes.


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Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Mysteries of the Unseen World (logo height 65 pix)

Geographic information systems (GIS) are computer-based systems used to collect, store, and display data sets related to positions on Earth’s surface.

One important use of GIS involves creating time-lapse photography that shows processes occurring over large areas and long periods of time. In time-lapse imagery, individual frames of visual data can be captured at a slower rate and then combined and viewed at a faster rate.

For example, data showing the movement of fluid in ocean currents or air currents help scientists better understand how moisture and heat energy move around the globe. These convection currents of air and water regulate local weather conditions and global climate patterns.

Transcript (English)

- [Narrator] Decades of data give us a view of our entire planet as a single organism. With circulatory currents in the ocean and water vapor in the air. With swirling weather distributing moisture and warmth. With lightning and even a little cosmic coloration from the aurora borealis. It may be the ultimate time-lapse image, the unseeable anatomy of Earth brought to life.

Transcripción (Español)

- [Narrador] Décadas de datos nos dan la visión de nuestro planeta como un solo organismo. Con corrientes circulatorias en el océano y vapor de agua en el aire. Con el clima giratorio distribuyendo humedad y calor. Con relámpagos e incluso un poco de coloración cósmica de la aurora boreal. Podría ser la imagen de lapso de tiempo definitiva, la anatomía invisible de la Tierra cobrando vida.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

National Geographic Society
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Angela M. Cowan, Education Specialist and Curriculum Designer
National Geographic Society
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 10, 2024

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