Bayr's Research Spans the Globe
Klaus Bayr, originally from Austria, has seen some pretty amazing things since he started teaching at Keene State College in 1969. Despite the fact that geography studies take him all around the world, his favorite part of the job is teaching. "Research and travel are a close second," he notes.
His students get some invaluable hands-on experience and impressive credits for their resumes. Over the years, Bayr and his students have made three state atlases for fourth graders. So far, they have created atlases for New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island, with facts about the land, some of its history, such as in what areas Native American tribes settled, and economics.
For much of his teaching career, mapping technology was nowhere near as user-friendly as it is now. "Development of GPS [Global Positioning System] technology has been outrageous," he says. "Mapping that used to take 100 hours now takes maybe 10, and another five to fix." He teaches a course in computer mapping, and doesn't appear sentimental about the older days of mapmaking. "You could be 20 hours into a project, mess up, and have to start all over again," Bayr comments.
Bayr also works with NASA, analyzing snow measurements in the Monadnock region; works with IKONOS scenes, from a commercial Earth Observation System satellite; and is an enthusiast of remote sensing and its application to glaciology. Remote sensing takes a location's measurements and geographical features from a place above, often from a satellite. Bayr says that no matter how high-tech the methods get, their accuracy always needs to be confirmed with "ground truthing," that is, going to the location and checking out the measurements in person. This is why you'll find many globe-trotting cartographers. Bayr has been to locations all around the world, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Japan, among others.
In February of 2007, he plans to go to New Zealand and hopefully the Himalayas in pursuit of new data, which he will most likely be passing along to his students in some form when he returns to Keene State from his sabbatical. The 2007-08 academic year looks to be Bayr's final year teaching at KSC. His plans for retirement? "More travel," he says with a smile.