Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
Department of Geography-Earth Science
Shippensburg University


GIS is a STEM discipline. The purpose of GIS2 is to help students to learn how to think spatially and develop practical skills using geospatial data and technology. Concepts covered during GIS1, including the nature of data, data models, geodesy, map projections and coordinate systems, will be revisited in greater detail. New topics will include sampling, spatial estimation, map algebra, terrain modeling, digital aerial photography, and spatial analysis. Skill development will focus on geospatial data collection methods, data processing methods, project management, and using spatial logic to answer geographic questions. GIS2 serves as one of six courses that can be used to satisfy the elective requirement of the undergraduate GIS Letter of Program and it is a required course for Geography/GIS track majors.


Weekly calendars

In-class exercises

California's Camp Fire

A story map of damage
The GIS team in Butte County, CA, developed a story map to help organize their initial damage assessment and to provide county residents with evaculation, damage, service, and lost pet information.

Debris flow
The USGS is using a GIS to model the spatial distribution of post-fire debris flow potential. Debris flow models are based on terrain and soils information, rainfall conditions, and burn–severity data representing recently burned areas.

Burn Severity
The USFS is using a GIS to model burn–severity in recently burned areas.
Projections: a method for transforming geographic coordinates into planar coordinates.
Projected coordinates: geographic coordinates that have been transformed for use with planar coordinate systems.

NGS Coordinate Conversion Tool
And online convertor for longitude & latitude coordinates, geodetic datums, and projected coordinate systems.

National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer
A visual way to explore our national spatial reference system.

GIS2_inClass_Geodesy (2 MB)
Introduction to geodesy and geographic referencing systems.

Video: Business Insider's "How the ancient Greeks learned Earth was round over 2,000 years ago."

Video: Tom Scott's "Why the Prime Meridian [for the US] doesn't coincide with 0º E/W [in the UK]." (96 MB zipped)
Introduction to spatial analysis with rasters.

Virtual 3-D model of the Oroville Dam area.


GIS2_practicewithIDW.xlsx (20 KB)  Bug fixed and file updated on Sept. 19 @ 8:30 PM
A tool for disecting and playing with the IDW interpolation algorithm. (1.2 MB)
Point-to-surface interpolation methods: 3 algorithms.

YouTube: Airborne Lidar - Light Detection and Ranging.

YouTube: McCord Engineering UAV LiDAR - Topographic Data Collection. (128 KB)
Creating point features from your spatial point sample dataset. (124 MB)
Common data and document formats used with ArcGIS for Desktop.

Lab assignments

5-7: The Chimney Tops 2 Fire Project

This GIS project offers you a complete hands-on learning experience. It will expose you to the entire workflow that a seasoned GIS Analyst would use during the hours and days following a major disaster.

Lab 7. Assessing forest damage & answering the research question
Lab 7 and the 80-point scoring rubric

Lab 6. Assessing property damage & developing the context
Lab 6 and

Lab 5. Getting started & establishing a sense of place
Lab 5 and

Video: Mountain Firestorm: The Story of the Gatlinburg wildfires

Video: Chalet Village Fire Gatlinburg, by Michael Luciano

Video: Drone view of the wildfire devastation, by Hytek Media And Photography

4. Projecting geographic coordinates onto commonly used planar mapping systems and seeing what happens.

Lab 4 handout , Lab 4 worksheet ,
This lab is designed to help you learn to use geographic coordinates (by doing, visualizing, and calculating) and to learn how different projection methods create different distortion patterns among projected shapes. Key take-home message - map projection methods are customized for projecting data inside specific mapping zones. Yes, each method might be able to project data outside of the intended zone, but it wasn't designed to do so without consequences.

3. Calculating derivative surfaces for terrain analysis

Lab 3 and GIS2_Lab_data_TerrainAnalysis (9MB)
The purpose of this lab is to help you learn how to conduct terrain analysis, a type of spatial analysis that relies heavily on a DEM. During terrain analysis, you'll learn to calculate and interpret derivative surfaces. This lab will also introduce you to cartographic models, which are used to illustrate spatial models (a logical sequence of GIS operations). Here's an example. Also, two videos accompany the lab (links below).

National Science Foundation (2015) "When Nature Strikes - Landslides." YouTube. Last accessed on September 23, 2018 at

IN Close (2014) "Voices of the Oso Landslide: Anatomy of a Landslide." YouTube. Last accessed on September 23, 2018 at

1-2: The Sand Table Project

Labs 01 and 02
This hands-on learning experience is designed to help you plan to take a set of spatial observations, build spatial datasets, and build a representative topographic map (example) of the landscape.



Scott A. Drzyzga, Ph.D., GISP
Department of Geography-Earth Science
Center for Land Use & Sustainability
Shippensburg University
Shippensburg, PA 17257

CV: current