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Intro to Geospatial Data with R

Map of Devastating 2003 Heat Wave in the Netherlands Observed from MODIS Satellite. Mehdi Aminipouri (PhD Candidate in Geography at SFU)

The lessons in this workshop will cover how to open, work with, and plot vector and raster-format spatial data in R. Additional topics include working with spatial metadata (extent and coordinate reference systems), reprojecting spatial data, and working with raster time series data. This full-day workshop will be guided through parts of the Data Carpentries' syllabus, parts from Robin Lovelace's Geocomputation with R workbook, and parts from the workbooks.

This lesson assumes you have some knowledge of R. If you have never used R before, or need a refresher, you could take one of the R workshops offered through the Research Commons or you could start with the Carpentries' Introduction to R for Geospatial Data lesson. This lesson also assumes you have some knowledge of geospatial data types and common file formats. If you have never worked with geospatial data before, or need a refresher, start with the Carpentries' Geospatial Project Organization and Management lesson.


  • The most recent version of R and RStudio (participants will need their own computer).
  • For installation instructions and to download the data used in this lesson, see the workshop homepage
  • Make sure you have set up a RStudio project for this lesson, as described in the setup instructions.
  • If you don’t have an RStudio project, you will need to manually set the working directory with setwd([your-directory-name]) so R can find the data files to load.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • import and export raster and vector data from R;
  • analyze and edit raster and vector data;
  • explore spatio-temporal data in R.

Core competencies
spatial analysis, aligning data, plotting data, publication quality graphics

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