Final Project- Earth Analytics Course - GEOG 4563 / 5563

About the final project

The final project in this course includes:

  1. A 12-15 minute group presentation (10%): The structure of the presentation is discussed below.
  2. An individual report (20%): written in R markdown and submitted in either .html or .pdf format

Earth analytics course final project

1. Select a science question, phenomenon or events

Select a topic that you wish to address / better understand. Your topic can be related to something we’ve covered in class or to something completely different! You must be able to ask and answer an explicit science question using data that you collect / download / find (not data that you have been given to use in this course).

2. Research your topic

Find papers and other documentation on your selected topic. Research your topic and craft a background section of your presentation that is founded in science. You will also use this to write your literature review for your final paper.

3. Find data

Find atleast 2 distinct datasets that are from different sources. A source is defined as a collection method / type or sensor so for example the Landsat sensor is type of data. NDVI and NBR derived from Landsat is still data from one source. You could however use Landsat and MODIS as two separate sources given the data come from two different sensors. The data should be used to answer the question that you select for your project.

What to submit & when

The final group presentations will occur on the final day of class: Monday 11 December 2017 during class. IMPORTANT: Submit your final presentation to D2L by 8am this day.

The final individual report is due the following week during finals: Submit your html / pdf file and your .Rmd file to D2L by Monday 18 May 2017 @ 9AM.

  • NOTE 1: we expect groups to be the same as the groups for the mid-term. However it is OK if you changed your topic, data sources, questions, etc given feedback on the mid term presentation.
  • NOTE 2: You can decide whether you want to submit your report in .html vs .pdf format. If you want to include an interactive graphic you will need to use .html format!

Final group presentation

For your final, as a group, you will present the following:

  • The study area that you selected for your project. Be sure to include a map and context map that clearly shows where the study area is. Create your map using R.
  • The science topic that you selected for your project.
  • Why the topic / event / phenomenon is important (why should the class care) - this should include some background that you develop via a literature review. Have other people studied it? What did they find?
  • Plots showing atleast 2 different types of data from different sources that allow you to answer questions about the topic.
  • Explanation of where you got the data (the source).
  • Explanation of how you processed the data in R.
  • Results that you found by looking at the data.
  • Challenges that you faced in working with the data.
  • Any relevant conclusions.

This is a science presentation so be sure to clearly articulate the significance of your project.


  • You have no more than 10-12 minutes to present your project to the class.
  • Each member in each group needs to present!
  • You can use any presentation tool that you wish for your presentation. Powerpoint, rpres, pdf, etc. As long as the entire class can see the final presentation and you can SUBMIT IT to D2l.
  • Groups should be 2-3 people. It is OK if you decide you really want to work on your own but we prefer (and you will have a better project) if you work with others.
  • You can reach out to the the experts who have presented in this course for guidance / with questions if you want!
    • Matthew Rossi (Floods)
    • Megan Cattau (fire - Earth Lab)
    • Lise (social media - Earth Lab)

Individual Final Report

To complement your final presentation, create a report using R markdown. This report should be structured as a scientific paper / white paper. For your report, select a component of the project that you are most interested in. Perform a literature review on that topic. In your report be sure to cite in your text atleast 2 peer reviewed journal articles about that topic and then 2 other sources that can be peer reviewed or not peer reviewed including blogs, newspaper articles, etc. Also be sure to include data driven plots and maps as appropriate. Your report should include:

  1. An introduction that includes a map of the study area created in R.
  2. Literature review that references to atleast 2 scientific (peer reviewed) papers and 2 non peer reviewed sources on the topic.
  3. A methods overview that describes
    • The data that you used
    • The source of the data
    • How the data were processed in R.
  4. Results - atleast 4 maps / plots that answer the question that you decided to address or the phenomenon that you decided to explore using data.
  5. Summary text - what did you learn about your topic? What did the data tell you?
  6. References - list all references that you used to write your report (in text citations) at the end. Don’t forget to reference your data.

The report should be written independently, however it is OK if you decide to share code with your group members given you may all tackle different parts of the data when you work on your project. It is also ok if you share interesting articles and other sources of information about the topic.

The writing of each report needs to be your own.

The report should also include the code that you used to create maps and process any data used. You can hide this code using code chunk arguments but be sure to clearly document your process as we have been discussing in class all semester! We will grade your final pdf / html document and the code.

Report Notes

  • Be sure all plots / maps have clearly labeled x and y axes (as appropriate) and legends
  • All plots / maps should also include a caption that describes what the data show. You can add the caption using fig.cap = OR if you prefer, add the caption in the markdown text of your document.
  • Spell check / grammar check your paper BEFORE YOU SUBMIT. this is worth 20% of your grade. Take time to make sure it’s well written!
  • Hide your code in the .Rmd document UNLESS you feel like your methods are important to call out. (for example you may decide to show some of your methods in the methods section of the report).
  • Turn off warnings and other messages so they do not appear in your final rendered report.
  • Start early - make sure your reports renders to pdf or html WELL BEFORE the assignment is due!
  • Proof your output .html file BEFORE your submit it.

Graduate students - additional report elements

In addition to the requirement above, graduate students should develop

  1. A more robust literature review on the selected topic. This literature review should include 4 or more peer reviewed references and should be 1.5 to 2 pages in length (~700 words).
  2. An abstract that provides the big picture of the topic that you selected. This abstract should follow the format of an abstract that your would write for a journal submission in your field.


  • GROUP PRESENTATION: The final group presentations will occur on the final day of class. Submit your final presentation to the group D2L Drop Box PRIOR by 9AM on the last day of class.

  • FINAL INDEPENDENT REPORT: The final individual report is due on Monday of finals week. Submit your html / pdf file and your .Rmd file to D2L by Monday 18 Dec 2017 @ 9AM.

Presentation rubric

Science (50%)

Full CreditNo Credit
The science question / topic is thoughtfully presented 
The importance of the project topic to those in the room (the specific audience) is clearly articulated. Why should we care? 
Rough data plots or example images of the data to be used (even if it’s the raw data) are shown in the presentation 
Results of data analysis are clearly articulated. 
The methods that clarify how the data were processed are clearly articulated as they relate to the science question / topic. 
Conclusions associated with data analysis are clearly articulated and thoughtful. They consider the data analysis as presented. 

Data (25%)

Full CreditNo Credit
2 specific data sources are identified in the presentation 
Each data source identified is described: how it’s collected & where its acquired from 
How the data were used to address the topic is clearly articulated 
Sources of uncertainty associated with the data and or analysis are clearly articulated in the presentation 
The x, y axes, legends, associated units and other elements of each plot are clearly explained & labeled. 
An R generated study area map is included in the presentation to clearly articulate the study area. 

Presentation (20%)

Full CreditNo Credit
Presentation is clear, concise and thoughtfully pulled together. 
Presenters are well prepared. 
All students introduce themselves / their background 
The project topic is clearly and concisely introduced 
Everyone in the group presents. 
The presentation spans no more than 5 minutes. 

Slide presentation (5%)

Full CreditNo Credit
Presentation “slides” are simple and easy to read. 
Presentation graphics are relevant to the topic being presented 
Data slides (containing maps or plots) area easy to read 
Slides can be read from the back of the room. 

Final report rubric

Report structure & text writeup: 10%

Full CreditNo Credit
.pdf or .html file and .rmd file is submitted 
Summary text is provided for plots / plots are discussed in the text 
Grammar & spelling are accurate throughout the report 
File is named with lastName-firstInitial-final-project (or some easy to read name that includes the student’s name) 
Report contains atleast 2 (4 for grad students) scientific peer reviewed citations 
Report contains atleast 4 total citations 

Report code structure & format: 10%

Full CreditNo Credit
Code is written using “clean” code practices following the Hadley Wickham style guide 
Comments are used to document code 
Code chunks are hidden / visible as makes sense to support the report 
All required R packages are listed at the top of the document in a code chunk. 
All code chunks run 

Report plots & data content: 20%

Full CreditNo Credit
Report includes a study area map created in R 
Report contains atleast 4 maps / plots that support discussion of the science question or phenomenon selected to study 
Plot 1 - is labeled appropriately including units. Its contents are discussed in the paper as they related to the selected study topic 
Plot 2 - is labeled appropriately including units. Its contents are discussed in the paper as they related to the selected study topic 
Plot 3 - is labeled appropriately including units. Its contents are discussed in the paper as they related to the selected study topic 
Plot 4 - is labeled appropriately including units. Its contents are discussed in the paper as they related to the selected study topic 

Report science content: 60%

Full CreditNo Credit
The project background is presented clearly and thoughtfully and includes the study area. 
Project background clearly discusses why the topic is important to study. 
Project background introduces the topic in the context of the literature (both scientific and non scientific as relevant) 
Methods: data sources and how the data were acquired are clearly identified / discussed 
Methods: processing / analysis methods are clearly articulated in the report and also align with comments / processing steps seen in the code implementation 
Results: results include atleast 4 plots / maps that support the report findings 
Results discuss findings making reference to the plots as makes sense 
Conclusions associated with data analysis are clearly articulated and thoughtful. They consider the data analysis as presented. 
References are included as both in text citations and as a list at the end of the report & include data sources. 

Graduate student additional report components

Graduate students: The science content portion of your paper will be worth 45% rather than 60% with the additional 15% coming from the section below which includes the additional literature review and the abstract.

Graduate students - abstract & additional literature review: 15%

Full CreditNo Credit
The literature review presents the topic in the context of other science that has been performed surrounding the selected topic 
The literature review is 1.5-2 pages ~ 700 words in length 
The abstract is concise and clearly summarizes the question, methods and high level results of the project