The earth system is dynamic with its four components (hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere) constantly changing and interacting with each other. To monitor the evolution of the earth system requires the ability to generate accurate near real-time maps of its components on spatial scales that go from local to global. An effective way to accomplish this mapping with adequate spatial coverage is using remote sensing techniques. This results in large volumes of digital geo-information that can be stored, manipulated, visualized, analyzed, and shared with physical computational systems or in the cloud.
The Geoinformatics focus area deals with all of these aspects of managing geoinformation particularly using Geographic Information Science (GIS) tools. In addition, the focus area includes various applications of geoinformation such as mapping of water and natural resources, land use and land cover, solar radiation, polar ice, and natural hazards. The emphasis is on new technologies to acquire geoinformation such as autonomous aerial (drones) or underwater (ocean gliders) vehicles and/or new approaches such as applying big data analytics and cloud computing to geoinformation.