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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP NEW PLANT HARDINESS MAP DATA FOR THE UNITED STATES

Location: North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa

2009 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this Specific Cooperative Agreement (hereinafter referred to as this Agreement) is to produce draft digital maps and grids (layers of map data) and associated data sets for the United States that use the best meteorological and technological information available, and which can be used to develop an approved, updated USDA-ARS Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM) for the United States.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Using the PRISM climate modeling system, developed by the Cooperator, draft plant hardiness maps based on 1971-2000 temperature data for the conterminous U.S., Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska will be developed, accompanied by uncertainty analyses, variance maps, and separate maps for the periods 1971-1985 and 1986-2000. These layers of map data and data sets will be reviewed by the Technical Review Team, and their recommendations will be incorporated by the Coopertator into the final deliverables of this Agreement.

At the completion of these tasks, it is the intent of USDA-ARS to use these deliverables to produce a final USDA-ARS PHZM that will fully acknowledge the contribution of the Cooperator in its development.

Once the USDA-ARS PHZM map is produced, it is the intent of USDA-ARS to make it available to the public through a web portal. It is also the intent of ARS to allow the public to download the map and reproduce it without compensation in a wide variety of publications, such as journals, popular press magazines and product catalogues. The USDA-ARS PHZM may also be printed and sold by the National Technical Information Service, General Printing Office of the U.S. Government, or other Federal publishing offices. Therefore, ARS reserves a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty free license for the Federal government to publish the map or to authorize others to do so.

Future applications of the USDA-ARS PHZM and the layers of map data contributing to it will be explored between USDA-ARS and the Cooperator, along with discussions about the creation of other digital climatological maps of interest to the USDA-ARS, such as solar radiation, evapotranspiration, and heat unit maps. If USDA-ARS and the Cooperator agree to develop mutually these future applications, this Agreement shall be modified to reflect additional objectives, tasks, deliverables and funding.


3.Progress Report

The ADODR monitors the activities of this project through frequent email and telephone contacts with the Principal Investigator and through close coordination of the activities of the project's Technical Review Team (TRT) with the Office of National Programs via email and teleconferences.

Cooperators at Oregon State University are working to produce digital plant hardiness and related maps for the United States. Tasks and deliverables are divided into three phases. In Phase 1, draft 1976-2005 plant hardiness maps for the conterminous US, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska were developed, accompanied by uncertainty analyses, variance maps, and separate maps for the periods 1976-1990 and 1991-2005. In Phase 2, the map products from Phase 1 were reviewed by the TRT, revised into final form, and documented. Once these phases were completed, the development of a web portal and applications for serving the digital plant hardiness data to the public would be explored in Phase 3, along with discussions about the creation of other digital climatological maps of interest to the USDA-ARS, such as solar radiation, evapotranspiration, and heat unit maps. The project is currently in Phase 3.

A report was prepared to describe the methods used to develop these maps. Additional reports were prepared that detailed responses to reviewer comments and revisions made to the final PHZMs as a result of those comments.

Work on the cartographic map products has also been completed. Tasks included refining the color scheme for optimal viewing on the web and as hard copy; designing map layouts; selecting GIS base layers for the national, regional, and state maps; and creating each map as a custom project using ARCMap. Cartographic products included 51 state maps, 6 regional maps, web and print versions of the national map, and simplified versions of selected maps for use on seed packets. Images were exported at three resolutions to accommodate a range of Internet access speeds and image-quality requirements. In total, 198 map images and one print file (for wall-map printing) were delivered to USDA-ARS on DVD.

A pilot study was undertaken to determine options for providing user access to the PHZM via an Internet Map Server (IMS). The study evaluated several options and determined that the most attractive option was an IMS that interfaces with a Google Maps application. A prototype of the IMS was developed, tested, and demonstrated. It allows users to zoom to specified regions for detailed examination and query the map for zone designations and temperature values. A separate application was developed to allow users to enter a zip code and retrieve the associated plant hardiness zone. The IMS query function and zip code lookup application both require database capabilities; Oregon State University is advising USDA on identifying a suitable host for the databases.

The wrap-up stage of Phase 3 is beginning, and includes the following tasks: (1) completing work on the IMS, transferring the IMS to a suitable host, and providing technical support; (2) preparing a journal article on the development of the PHZM; (3) and creating digital GIS versions of the PHZM.


Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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