The geographic context is essential both for environmental research and for policy-oriented environmental management. Geographic information systems are as a result increasingly important computing applications in this domain, and an understanding of the underlying principles of geographic information science is increasingly essential to sound scientific practice. The review begins by defining terms. Four major sections follow that discuss advances in GIS analysis and modeling, in the supply of geographic data for GIS, in software design, and in GIS representation. GIS-based modeling is constrained in part by architecture, but a number of recent products show promise, and GIS continues to support modeling through the coupling of software. The GIS data supply has benefited from a range of new satellite-based sensors and from developments in ground-based sensor networks. GIS software design is being revolutionized by two developments in the information technology mainstream: the trend to component-based software and object-oriented data modeling. Advances in GIS representation focus largely on time, the third spatial dimension, and uncertainty. References are provided to the more important and recent literature. The concluding section identifies three significant and current trends: toward increasing interoperability of data and services, increasing mobility of information technology, and increasing capabilities for dynamic simulation.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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