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.

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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

November 10, 2022

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