Digital Atlas of Micronesia advances FSM data beyond Guam, Hawaii


With the culmination of a five-year effort to gather a breadth of geospatial data and display it on an interactive digital atlas, the four main islands of the Federated States of Micronesia are now more easily researched than any other island in the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam and Fiji.

The Digital Atlas of Micronesia launched on Nov. 1 and is a free and available resource for anyone to use at https://islandatlas.org. It currently covers Yap proper, Chuuk Lagoon, Pohnpei and Kosrae.

The atlas is a collaborative project among Island Research & Education Initiative, or iREi, a nonprofit organization located in Pohnpei; the FSM Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management; and the Water and Environmental Research Institute at the University of Guam and was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and the FSM national government.

“We have gone way above and beyond the initial vision, and we now have, by far, the most comprehensive and versatile ‘national’ geospatial data repository anywhere in the Pacific Islands,” said Danko Taboroši, chief editor of the atlas and director of Island Research & Education Initiative. “iREi and WERI created our first digital atlas for Guam in 2009. What we did for the FSM benefited from that experience and loads of new data and improved technologies over the past 10 years.”

Fishermen wanting to know the boundaries of marine preserves, tourists interested in seeing historical and cultural sites, a contractor needing to bury new utility lines, a student needing demographics for a particular set of villages for a project, a diver looking for shipwreck sites, or a biologist wanting to find areas with specific vegetation — it’s all searchable on the digital atlas. Users can customize a map for their purposes and then export or print it.

“There’s a lot of information contained in this atlas that — if you just have it in text or table form, it’s really hard to comprehend, but if you look at these maps and graphics, they really tell a story,” said Maria Kottermair, a UOG WERI alumna and geographic information specialist who is co-editor of the atlas. “We discovered and digitized old, hard-to-find maps, information f