Colloquium with Jerome Dobson, University of Kansas and the American Geographical Society

Join us on Tuesday, February 5 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. as we welcome Jerome Dobson for a special colloquium. Dr. Dobson will present his talk "Aquaterra - Geography's New Realm" in COOR 5536.



About the talk:

Today, society takes for granted that the earth’s lands and oceans are separate systems studied by two distinctly different groups of scientists. Yet prior to 1850, geographers claimed the whole world as their purview.

In 2014, Dobson proposed formal recognition of aquaterra, a global feature consisting of all lands inundated and exposed repeatedly during the Late Pleistocene Ice Ages. Like a vast millennial tide, this land, equivalent in size to the continent of South America, is a hybrid of land and sea. Its land phase can best be understood by geographers; its sea phase by oceanographers. Thus, geographers have a “new” territory within their purview, and their perspective can contribute mightily to the understanding of its physical and human geography.

Will geographers embrace this opportunity? Geographic information technology will be essential to visualize and conceptualize submerged landforms, transportation networks, migration routes, punctuated sustainability, etc. over time. Will geographers do it themselves or passively serve as the clerks of science to those who do?

Dobson illustrates with twenty-thousand-year simulations of today’s straits and isthmuses generally recognized as global chokepoints. How different were they when sea level was lowest at the Last Glacial Maximum? Three global chokepoints were sufficiently open to navigation, but six others presented substantially greater barriers than today. Some routes differed in meaningful ways. Implications include answers to strategic questions such as where to search for submerged evidence of human occupance.

About the speaker:

Dr. Jerome E. "Jerry" Dobson is Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Kansas, President Emeritus of the American Geographical Society (AGS), and Trustee of Reinhardt University.  He was a Member of the Distinguished Research and Development Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and later a Jefferson Science Fellow with the National Academies and U. S. Department of State, where he served as Senior Scientist in the Office of The Geographer and Global Issues. Dobson was recognized with two lifetime achievement awards for his pioneering work in geographic information systems (GIS), as outstanding Alumnus of 2013 at Reinhardt University, and with the James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography.

His research contributions include the paradigm of automated geography, his instrumental role in proposing and soliciting funding for the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), his leadership of NOAA's long term effort to advance remote sensing methods for large-area change analysis, and his leadership of the LandScan Global Population Database, which has become the de facto world standard for estimating populations at risk during natural disasters, wars, and terrorist acts. Dobson coined the term geoslavery and warned of social risks associated with human tracking. His research includes testing a new system for mapping minefields without walking on them; designing and promulgating the current world standard for cartographic representation of landmines, minefields, and mine actions; and leading six AGS Bowman Expeditions to Mexico, the Antilles, Colombia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, and Central America including Centroamérica Indígena--a project that helps indigenous communities map their own lands and resources so they can defend against encroachers. 

For two decades he has studied aquaterra--the lands that were inundated and exposed repeatedly during the ice ages--most recently teaming with oceanographers to simulate how today’s global chokepoints would have impacted human transport when sea level was 130 meters lower at the last glacial maximum (LGM) 20,000 years ago.

Tuesday, February 5 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
COOR 5536