Archive for Mark Bjelland

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Advanced Placement Human Geography

In 2012, 97,700 students took the College Board’s Advanced Placement exam in Human Geography. The Human Geography course has grown by leaps and bounds and is energizing a new generation of geography students and teachers. The AP course includes population geography, migration, political geography, agriculture, economic geography, urban geography, and cultural geography. The essays from […]

Bears and Humans in Vancouver’s Suburbs

This sign on a city street in North Vancouver, British Columbia is evidence of the coexistence of humans and bears in the suburbs of Vancouver. Vancouver has set an ambitious goal of being the greenest city in the world by 2020. One of its main strategies is a strict urban containment boundary with large areas […]

Are Electric Cars Good for the Climate? Depends on Where You Live

A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the benefit of driving an electric car such as the Nissan Leaf depends on where you live. The numerical reduction in greenhouse gases depends on how the local electric utility generates its power. If it relies on hydropower, as on the West Coast, then […]

Population Change in U.S. Metropolitan Areas, 2000-2010

This map reveals a wealth of stories. Explosive growth in places like Austin, TX, Boise, ID, Charlotte, NC, Las Vegas, NV, McAllen, TX, Raleigh, NC, and Riverside, CA shifted the center of population southward. Deindustrialization led to actual numerical decline in Buffalo, Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and Youngstown. Hurricane Katrina reinforced the ongoing pattern […]

Where’s the Snow–in the Northwest

While southern Minnesota has had a relatively warm winter with little snow cover, things are quite different in the Pacific Northwest. Sea surface temperatures and atmospheric circulation patterns have been in the La Niña pattern. While El Niño features warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, La Niña features cooler than […]

Gusties Intern at City of Saint Peter

Geography major Stephanie Korba ’12 did a January Term career exploration under the supervision of Mr. Todd Prafke, the City Administrator for Saint Peter, MN. She researched pawn shop fees in other communities and presented her results to the City Council. She also researched access charges for connecting new developments to sewer, water, and electric, […]

See the world in a grain of (Californian) sand

William Blake starts his Auguries of Innocence with the line, “To see a world in a grain of sand.” Well, perhaps you can see the world in a grain of sand–if that grain happens to be from California. You see, according to some Hollywood executives back in the 1920s, California can offer geographical facsimiles of […]

Young Cartographers Develop New Minneapolis Skyway Map

In a world of google maps and foursquare, some wonder about the future of cartography. Well, some geography students are rediscovering the value of skillful, thoughtful map-making. Recent University of Wisconsin graduates have formed a company called “Carticulate.” They’ve landed work redesigning skyway maps for Minneapolis and transit maps for Asheville, NC. You can read […]

Geography Makes You Smart

British neuroscientists have shown that the brains of taxi drivers grow when they study for their taxi license exam. To be licensed to drive the classic black London cabs, cabbies have to pass a test demonstrating knowledge of the complex network of 25,000 winding streets and 20,000 landmarks in central London. The recent study showed […]

Alleys Full of Houses in Vancouver

In the more desirable neighborhoods of Vancouver, the alleys are lined with little houses. Technically called “laneway houses” (Canadians use the term “lane” rather than “alley”), they are part of Vancouver’s eco-density and affordable housing strategies. Eco-density is the idea that higher density cities support transit use and a smaller per capita ecological footprint. In […]