GIS and Dune Formation Research

This work studies environmental resilience and how severe weather impacts landscapes and how human beings react resiliently. Specifically, the project studies the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is currently imperfectly understood. Using GIS technology to identify potential areas of interest, the project evaluates grass dunes and sediment samples to find clues about historic coastal towns and the weather events they endured. The model Bampton is producing has the potential to predict future locations where drastic weather events will not be survivable or rebuildable, preventing a misuse of valuable resources for economic planners.


Linking this work to other North Atlantic regions would allow for a more robust model to be developed building on geographic connections. Another avenue for growth that is currently underway is linking this work to John Preston’s study of beach formation. Applying these two models to areas of historical success would tie these together to produce a wider range of application for the model.


USM: Firooza Pavri, Tracey Stutzman

External: John Preston (Steffenson Institute); University of Iceland

Matthew Bampton

Muskie School of Public Service

Matthew’s current research focuses on climate impacts on marginal communities in the sub-arctic during the Little Ice Age. Since 2011 he has been working on an interdisciplinary field project in the Shetland Islands combining archaeology, geology, and GIS to analyze the destruction of a farming community. The core analysis for this work was undertaken in academic year 2014-15 when Matthew was appointed as Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh in the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities. His other research interests include GIS education for undergraduates, and developing models for geospatial technology education in a rural region. This work is a collaborative effort and involves faculty from all seven UMaine System campuses.