RPI has a long history of scientific application of spatial and analytic technologies for coastal and natural resource mapping. RPI scientists created the original concept of the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) in 1978 and spearheaded the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for natural resource mapping in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Today, we remain on the leading edge with the development and application of advanced remote sensing and spatial analytics methods to support our mission of bringing rigorous and unbiased insight.

 Our Services:

  • We have deep staff expertise with nearly all significant commercial and open –source GIS, remote sensing, data visualization, and scientific computing software packages
  • We are coupling traditional spatial analysis techniques and methods with advanced and rapidly evolving statistical and machine-learning based modeling methods to bring new and powerful insight into natural resource management questions
  • We leverage our spatial and analytical capabilities with expertise in information technology, data management, and application development to develop desktop, web, and mobile assessment, screening, and decision support tools

We have demonstrated experience in the following areas:

  • Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI)
  • Remote Sensing
  • Coupled Spatial and Machine Learning Models
  • Spatial Analytics
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Coastal Geomorphology
  • Benthic Habitat Mapping

Related Projects:

  1. ESI mapping
  2. Haiti WINNER
  3. Office of Pipeline Safety USAs
  4. Drinking Water Unusually Sensitive Areas (USAs)
  5. Route Selection and EIS for Electrical Transmission Corridor, Costa Rica
  6. Post Storm Marine Debris Surveys, Data Management, and Modeling
  7. Coastal Resources Atlas and Vulnerability Index for the Abu Dhabi
  8. Gulf of Mexico All-Hazards Risk Assessment
  9. Extent of Subsurface Lingering Oil for the Exxon Valdez Spill
  10. Superstorm Sandy Debris Mapping and Modeling
  11. BOEM Environmental Support
  12. Abu Dhabi Habitat Mapping Change Analysis
  13. Al Gharbia Master Plan Physical Setting Characterization
  14. Draft Regulations for Prevention of Coastal Erosion in Oman

Related Publications: Geographic Information Systems and Resource Mapping

Nixon, Z., J. Michel, and S. Zengel. 2017. Remotely sensed oil and shoreline interaction modeling. Proc. 2017 Intl. Oil Spill Conference. Paper 233, 20 pp. http://ioscproceedings.org/doi/pdf/10.7901/2169-3358-2017.1.2600

Nixon, Z. and J. Michel. 2017. A Review of distribution and quantity of lingering subsurface oil from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Deep Sea Research Part II. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.07.009

Santos, C.F. J. Michel, M. Neves, J. Janeiro, F. Andrade, and M. Orbach. 2013. Marine spatial planning and oil spill risk analysis: Finding common grounds. Marine Pollution Bulletin 74:73-81.

Nixon, Z. and J. Michel. 2006. Assessment of hazardous materials and debris from Hurricane Rita in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., 29 pp.

Plank, C., W.T. Holton, M. White, J. Michel, C. Sherman, I. Csato, and C. Sames. 2003. Nation-wide assessment and mapping of drinking water “Unusually Sensitive Areas” (USAs). Proc. 2003 Intl. Oil Spill Conference, American Petroleum Institute, Wash., D.C.

Zengel, A., M.O. Hayes, J. Michel, M. White, B. Benggio, F. Lopez, Steve Towu, and E. Mosher. 2001. Integrated planning from the mountains to the sea: Environmental Sensitivity Index mapping in the Caribbean. Proc. 2001 International Oil Spill Conference, American Petroleum Institute, Wash., D.C., pp. 1113-1117.

Jensen, J.R., J.N. Halls, and J. Michel. 1998. A systems approach to Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) mapping for oil spill contingency planning and response. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, Vol. 64, pp. 1003-1014.

Hayes, M.O., J. Michel, and T.M. Montello. 1997, The Reach Sensitivity Index (RSI) for mapping rivers and streams: in Proc. 1997 Intl. Oil Spill Conference, American Petroleum Institute, Wash., D.C., pp. 343-350.

White, M. and K. Hastings, 1997, Effective management of GIS projects using quality control and quality assurance standards. in Proc. 1997 Environmental Systems Research Institute’s Annual Users Conference, San Diego, Calif.

Halls, J.N., J. Michel, S. Zengel, and J.A. Dahlin, 1997, Environmental sensitivity index guidelines. Prepared for NOAA, NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS ORCA 92, Seattle, Wash., 78 pp. plus appendices.

Halls, J.N., M.O. Hayes, J. Michel, and S. Zengel, 1996, Natural resource mapping using GIS: coastal and watershed applications: in Proc. 1996 Environmental Systems Research Institute’s Annual Users Conference, Palm Springs, Calif., 20-24 May 1996.

Halls, J.N., 1996, Gulf-wide Information System (G-WIS) database specifications manual (rev. 2.1). Prepared for the Center for Coastal, Energy, and Environmental Resources, Louisiana State University, and the U.S. Minerals Management Service, New Orleans, La., 30 pp. plus appendices.

Hayes, M.O., J. Michel, and T.M. Montello, 1996, Final report: a strategy for mapping sensitive resources of rivers and streams in EPA Region 4. Prepared for the Hazardous Materials Response and Assessment Division, NOAA, HAZMAT Report No. 96-11, Seattle, Wash., RPI/R/96-5, 36 pp. plus appendices.

Halls, J.N. and W. Holton, 1995, Implementing region topology to produce coastal resource atlases: in Proc. 1995 Environmental Systems Research Institute’s Annual Users Conference, Palm Springs, Calif., 22-26 May 1995.

Pavia, R., J. Michel, J. Petersen, and S. Birk-Risheim. 1995, An integrated program for sensitive environment mapping: in Proc. 1995 Intl. Oil Spill Conf., API Publ. No. 4620, American Petroleum Institute, Wash., D.C., pp. 73-76.

Michel, J., M.O. Hayes, J.A. Dahlin, and K. Barton. 1994, Sensitivity mapping of inland areas: technical support to the Inland Area Planning Committee Working Group, USEPA Region 5. Prepared for the Hazardous Materials Response and Assessement Division, NOAA, HAZMAT Report 95-4, Seattle, Wash., 54 pp.

Hayes, M.O., J. Michel, J.A. Dahlin, and K. Barton. 1994, Identifying and mapping sensitive resources for inland area planning: in Proc. 1995 Intl. Oil Spill Conf., American Petroleum Institute, Wash., D.C. pp. 365-371.

Jensen, J., S. Narumalani, M.O. Hayes, and J. Michel. 1994, ROPME Sea oil spill nearshore geochemical processes study, volume 3, remote sensing derived habitat classification and error evaluation year 1 (1992). Prepared for the Marine Spill Response Corporation, Wash., D.C., Technical Report Series 93-002.3, 43 pp.

Narumalani, S., J.R. Jensen, M.O. Hayes, J. Michel, T.M. Montello, and J. Robinson. 1993, Gulf War legacy using remote sensing to assess habitat in the Saudi Arabian Gulf before the Gulf War oil spill: GeoInfo Systems, June 1993, pp. 33-41.

Dahlin, J.A. and J.M. Holmes, 1992, Guidelines for digitization of ESI maps and symbology standards. Prepared for the Marine Spill Response Corporation, Wash., D.C., RPI/R/92-5, 28 pp. plus appendices.

Jensen, J.R., E.W. Ramsey, J.M. Holmes, J. Michel, B. Savitsky, and B.A. Davis. 1990, Environmental sensitivity index (ESI) mapping for oil spills using remote sensing and geographic information system technology: in Intl. J. of Geographic Information Systems, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 181-201.

Petersen, J., D. Nelson, T. Marcella, J. Michel, M. Atkinson, M. White, C. Boring, L. Szathmary, and J. Weaver. 2019. Environmental Sensitivity Index Guidelines, Version 4.0. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS OR&R 52.