Child pages
  • Assignment 2 - Cerretani
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Proposal 1


This semester, I am doing a directed study for which I would like to use GIS mapping.  The general goal of the directed study is to review climate change projections for Massachusetts, particularly with regards to water availability and crop water demand. With this information, I hope to make recommendations as to what irrigation or water conservation strategies would make the most sense for farmers to invest in as climate change progresses.

Spatial Questions

1)   How are irrigation water withdrawals disbursed?

2)   Where are the fruit and vegetable farms that use irrigation located? 

3)   What areas of the state have been experiencing water stress over the past few decades (droughts, low stream flow, saltwater intrusion, etc.)?  I am also interested in what areas have been experiencing an increase in extreme precipitation events over the past few decades (water damage to crops/soil).

4)   What areas will experience the greatest increase in population pressure over the next few decades? (This will directly affect the stress on existing water resources.)


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Water Resources Commission.  Stressed Basins in Massachusetts, December 2001.  Available online:  (

Frumhoff, Peter C, James J McCarthy, Jerry M Melillo, Suzanne C Moser, and Donald J Wuebbles. Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast: Science, Impacts, and Solutions. A report of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007.

Satti, Sudheer R. and Jacobs, Jennifer M.  A GIS-based model to estimate the regionally distributed drought water demand.  Agricultural Water Management 66 (2004) 1-13.

Wolfe, David W, Lewis Ziska, Curt Petzoldt, Abby Seaman, Larry Chase, and Katharine Hayhoe. "Projected change in climate thresholds in the Northeastern U.S.: implications for crops, pests, livestock, and farmers."Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 13 (2008): 555-575.

Public Data Sources

-         Some of the data on Mass GIS could be helpful, including the data on water resources and parcel data (might help me locate farms vs other types of parcels).  There is some data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and DEP, which may help unearth the locations of water stressed regions.  If GIS data isn't available for water stressed regions, DEP does have a listing of all water use restrictions currently in place on its website.

-         The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has data available on types of farms broken down by zip code.  NASS also has irrigation data but it may be aggregated.

-         The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a National Resources Inventory, which includes information on wetlands and land use.  NRCS also has soil survey data that can be useful in determining water requirements based on soil type.

-         NOAA has hourly precipitation data, which could be used to determine trends in extreme precipitation events and (possibly) drought periods by location.  There are a number of sampling stations in Massachusetts.

Proposal 2


Urban agriculture is increasingly popular in the US as people become more concerned with "eating local."  It is also a useful community development tool, whereby youth can be trained in agricultural, organizational, and entrepreneurial skills through community garden projects and access to fresh fruits and vegetables can be increased in traditionally underserved areas.  However, information on where urban farms are concentrated and how much they produce is limited.  I think it would be interesting to investigate these characteristics of urban agriculture in Boston and/or other cities in Massachusetts to see how substantial the movement is and whether or not there are particular areas that could benefit from investment in urban agriculture.

Spatial Questions

1)   Where are urban farms located in Massachusetts? Are they concentrated in particular cities? 

2)   Where within cities are these farms located? What are the socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of these areas?

3)   Where (and how much) arable land is there in a particular city?

4)   How are different types of crops distributed geographically?  Do gardens cater to the particular ethnic make-ups of their communities?


Fitzgerald, Michael.  Can Community Gardens save a city?  The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, November 9, 2008.

The Food Project.

Levenston, Michael; Blecha, Jennifer; Schendel, Kate and Houston, Jayna City. Farmer Uses the Latest Aerial Photos To Find Out How Much Food is Grown in the City of Vancouver.  September 2001.  Available online:

The Culture of Community Gardening in the Bronx.  Available online:

Data Sources

-         Mass GIS - parcel data could be used to find vacant lots; orthophotos could also illustrate open spaces. 

-         Locations of urban farms/community gardens?

-         US Census data would provide demographic information

  • No labels