Cartographic modeling is an integrated sequence of data processing tasks that organize, combine, analyze and display information to answer a question. Cartographic modeling is effective in GIS environments because they rely heavily upon visualization, making it easy to show input and output layers in map form. In many GIS platforms, the sequence of tasks can be created and modified graphically as well. The modeling is visual, intuitive, and requires some knowledge of GIS commands and data preparation, along with curiosity to answer a particular question about the environment. It does not require programming skill. Cartographic modeling has been used in applications to delineate habitats, to solve network routing problems, to assess risk of storm runoff across digital terrain, and to conserve fragile landscapes. Historical roots emphasize manual and later automated map overlay. Cartographic models can take three forms (descriptive, prescriptive and normative). Stages in cartographic modeling identify criteria that meet an overarching goal; collect data describing each criterion in map form; design a flowchart showing data, GIS operations and parameters; implement the model; and evaluate the solution. A scenario to find a suitable site for biogas energy production walks through each stage in a simple demonstration of mechanics.
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