Development of a web-based geographic information system for Arctic science: The Arctic Research Mapping Application (ARMAP)

George Walker Johnson, University of Texas at El Paso


Environmental science is a large field of study that requires the acquisition of data for decision making in solving environmental issues. Leveraging desktop geographic information systems (GIS) and web-based GIS (WebGIS) systems for assisting in the problem solving processes can benefit both the research community and policy makers for decision making activities. Ensuring interoperability between desktop, web, and server GIS is essential for maximizing access, sharing and manipulation of data. Interoperability is maximized through the adoption of best practices, use of open standards, and utilization of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI). While many of the interoperability challenges such as infrastructure, data exchange, and file formats are common between applications, some regions like the Arctic present specific challenges including the need for presenting data in one or more polar projections.^ This thesis describes the development and use of the Arctic Research Mapping Application (ARMAP) suite of online interactive maps, web services, and desktop virtual globes ( and several of the interoperability challenges and solutions encountered in development to date. The Arctic Research Logistics Support Service (ARLSS) database is the informational underpinning of ARMAP and has been incorporated in the ARMAP suite. Three case studies are described and demonstrate how the ARMAP suite can be used to improve access to ARLSS data and information for the purpose of facilitating Arctic science and logistic support. The cases presented include the use of: 1) A Keyhole Markup Language (KML) networked link file for Google Earth (GE) which eases the use of Arctic research information in a virtual globe for non-technical GIS users to develop quick maps; 2) A customized Internet Map Server client (ArcIMS), which provides access to many Arctic data sets in a powerful online GIS application with data exploration capabilities in a free web viewer to develop logistic plans for future research; and 3) A customized ArcGIS Explorer (AGX) application that provides users access to Arctic research information in a virtual globe similar to GE while providing GIS query capabilities developed to mimic the ArcIMS application.^ ARMAP has become a unique science and logistic tool supporting U.S. and international Arctic science by providing users with the ability to access, query, and browse information and data. Avoiding duplication of effort has been a key priority in the development of the ARMAP applications. The ARMAP suite incorporates best practices that facilitate interoperability such as Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) metadata standards, web services for embedding external data and serving framework layers, and open standards such as Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant web services. Outcomes of this project include the development and promotion of free desktop and web GIS tools that improve access to and exploration of pertinent information about U.S. Arctic research effort while using best practices for data storage and use developed from a task based analysis. Many of the features and capabilities of ARMAP are expected to greatly enhance the development of an Arctic Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). This project has provided functionality to the research community, logistic providers, public outreach, and program managers for Arctic research and decision making activities.^

Subject Area

Geodesy|Web Studies|Information Science|Environmental Sciences

Recommended Citation

Johnson, George Walker, "Development of a web-based geographic information system for Arctic science: The Arctic Research Mapping Application (ARMAP)" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1494357.