GIS at UMass-Lowell: Alex Brown, instructor (2006-2015)

  (Dec 2015)

Alex Brown <

Instructor, GIS and Remote Sensing (2006-2015)
Department of Environmental, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
University of Massachusetts Lowell =

(617) 308-9456 mobile, SMS

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased." 

"Global glacier volume is shrinking. This loss of Earth's land ice is of international concern. Rising seas, to which melting ice is a key contributor, are expected to displace millions of people within the lifetime of many of today's children. But the problems of glacier loss do not stop at sea level rise; glaciers are also crucial water sources, integral parts of Earth's air and water circulation systems, nutrient and shelter suppliers for flora and fauna, and unique landscapes for contemplation or exploration."

Saying goodbye to glaciers - Twila Moon, National Snow and Ice Data Center.  Science 12 May 2017: Vol. 356, Issue 6338, pp. 580-581

"We are playing a global endgame. Humanity's grasp on the planet is not strong; it is growing weaker. Freshwater is growing short; the atmosphere and the seas are increasingly polluted as a result of what has transpired on the land. The climate is changing in ways unfavorable to life, except for microbes, jellyfish, and fungi. For many species, these changes are already fatal."

UMass Lowell Presents Highest Honor to Nobel Laureate Steven Chu  following 2016 Tripathy Memorial Lecture “Climate Change and a Path to Clean Energy”
November 16 2016 - Past US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, delivered UMass Lowell’s annual Tripathy Memorial Lecture. -- Dr Chu laid out alarming trends in carbon emissions, sea-level rise and global temperatures, noting that although the consequences of these phenomena may not be felt for generations, they will nonetheless be dire. “There is compelling evidence that Earth’s climate is changing and humans are responsible for it. We only have one chance at correcting it and we have to do it,” he said. Dr Chu's Tripathy Lecture, his presentation on his work as US Energy Secretary, is available on UML's web:; see also  (For Dr Chu's discussions with students, see…/press-relea…/2016/StevenChu111616.aspx).


The University of Massachusetts is the first major public university to divest from fossil fuel and energy investments.   I'm proud to have been a part of this, through UML's Climate Change Initiative.

For most of my forty (!) odd years as an engineer -- a designer, creator and maintainer of useful things, using physical science training and experience -- I've been a member of an unusual large professional organization, the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).  This field of engineering has touched and transformed almost every aspect of modern society, from power generation and distribution, for home, commercial and industrial illumination, to transportation and communication, and especially education of young people around the world.  IEEE's member communities and societies have been a great resource to my own continuing education, especially:

  • IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (IEEE-GRSS)
  • IEEE Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO)
  • IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (IEEE-OES)
  • IEEE Communications Society (IEEE-COMSOC)
IEEE's deepest roots are in the electric power generation and transmission industry, which has its own strong needs for computer-based mapping, or "Geographic Information Systems (GIS)", the subject matter I taught at UML for almost a decade. A recent "Atlas of Electricity" by ESRI, the most prominent vendor of GIS software, whose products I've taught to largely non-technical environmental engineers for that decade, combines the two nicely using ArcGIS Online, a new ESRI product:

An Atlas of Electricity -- a Story Map by ESRI

"Electricity is integral to the modern American lifestyle. But the generation and transmission of electricity is a complex, opaque process. Here's how it all works."


Much of my recent work has been in education, where the transformative power of electronic communications has given us the Internet, and taught us the necessity of working together on problems which seem beyond our individual powers to solve.