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Dartmouth College Radio Show Interviews CIESIN Demographer

Fri Feb 17 00:00:00 EST 2017

In addition to sudden natural disasters such as hurricanes or flash floods, slow-moving climate change events such as drought can cause displacement and migration, explains CIESIN research scientist and demographer Susana Adamo in an interview for the radio show, “The Briefing Powered by Dartmouth,“ broadcast on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121. Speaking with the host, Mike Mastanduno, Dartmouth College dean of faculty and an expert in international relations, Adamo discusses current research and concerns about climate change and human migration. The program is airing Saturday, February 18, at 8 am EST with re-broadcasts February 19 at 6 am and 7 pm. “The Briefing” is a new weekly satellite radio show radio show that aims to provide historical and factual perspectives on the week’s news. To hear an excerpt from Adamo’s interview, go here.

See: “The Briefing Powered by Dartmouth”—Sirius XM weekly schedule
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Role of Population Data in Monitoring Sustainable Development Discussed at Esri FedGIS Conference

Wed Feb 15 00:00:00 EST 2017

Greg Yetman, associate director for geospatial applications, joined more than 4,000 federal geospatial technology professionals at the 2017 Esri FedGIS Conference, “GIS–Improving Our Nation,” February 13–14 in Washington, D.C. He gave an invited presentation, “Population Data for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” as part of the session, “GIS Data for the SDGs.” His presentation focused on the implications of using different population data sets for developing indicators linked to the SDGs, which were adopted by the international community in September 2015. Drawing on recent discussions at an expert meeting on geospatial settlement, infrastructure, and population data organized by CIESIN February 1–3, Yetman highlighted differences among several global population distribution data sets to illustrate the issues surrounding the selection of input data sets in developing indicators for any of the SDGs. 

See: “GIS–Improving Our Nation” (Esri FedGIS Conference)


“Behind the Scenes″ Tour of Connected Worlds Exhibit Given

Mon Feb 13 00:00:00 EST 2017

Located at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in Queens, Connected Worlds is the world′s largest immersive digital museum exhibition, developed by NYSCI in partnership with Design I/O and CIESIN. The unique installation engages children of all ages in active play and learning about sustainability concepts in six imaginary interlinked biomes. On February 12, the NYSCI president, Margaret Honey, hosted a special behind the scenes tour of Connected Worlds for members of the President′s Council. CIESIN director Robert Chen joined NYSCI chief scientist Steven Uzzo and Design I/O computer artist Theo Watson in describing the science and creative process behind the exhibit, as well as the challenges in implementing a robust and working system that is also engaging. Chen underscored the importance of educating the next generation of students to think systematically and sustainably, and highlighted several online tools developed by CIESIN aimed at helping decision makers and the public deal with complex environmental issues in the real world. Participants in the tour then had a chance to experience Connected Worlds for themselves, including the new digitally-projected “Living Library″ that serves as an interactive users' manual for the exhibit. Last fall, the Connected Worlds exhibit won the 2016 Science Media Award in the Interactive category, awarded by Jackson Hole WILD and WGBH Boston.


Data Rescue, Data Integration, and Land Use Change Highlighted in New Publications

Thu Feb 09 00:00:00 EST 2017

CIESIN staff members and a former visitor have authored several new papers on diverse topics. Senior digital archivist Robert Downs and director Robert Chen are co-authors of the chapter, “Curation of Scientific Data at Risk of Loss: Data Rescue and Dissemination,” in the book, Curating Research Data Volume One: Practical Strategies for Your Digital Repository. They document efforts by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) to rescue data from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a major international assessment of the world′s ecosystems, conducted 2001–2005. The book is edited by Lisa Johnston and published by the American Library Association.

Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, has authored the chapter, “Remote Sensing and Socioeconomic Data Integration: Lessons from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center,” in the CRC Press book, Integrating Scale in Remote Sensing and GIS. The chapter highlights a range of examples in which remote sensing data have been combined with other environmental and socioeconomic data to produce new products designed to support both interdisciplinary research and applications.

Information scientist Xiaoshi Xing and de Sherbinin are co-authors of an article on historical land use change in China published in Nature Scientific Reports. The lead author, Yuanyuan Yang of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, visited CIESIN in 2013‒2014 while a doctoral student in land use management at Jilin University in China. The article describes a spatially-explicit modeling framework for reconstructing historical land use change in Zhenlai County in northeastern China.


Experts on Geospatial Settlement, Infrastructure, and Population Data Gather at Columbia

Fri Feb 03 00:00:00 EST 2017

Participants at a meeting on settlements, infrastructure, and population data, Lamont campus, February 2.

Understanding where people live and where their buildings and other infrastructure are located is critical to improving health care and other essential services, reducing vulnerability to hazards, expanding access to markets, and supporting other aspects of sustainable development. Numerous public and private sector organizations around the world are working to produce geospatial data on human settlements, the built infrastructure, and population distribution, drawing on a growing array of data sources including satellite-based radar, night-time light sensors, and high-resolution imagery. Following up on an initial meeting held at SciDataCon 2016 in Denver last fall, CIESIN invited more than 25 experts from academia, private companies, international organizations, and development agencies to the Columbia University Lamont campus in Palisades, New York, February 1–2 to compare methods, explore opportunities to collaborate, and assess how to make data more usable for a range of applications. The group then met February 3 on the Morningside campus with more than 15 representatives of stakeholder organizations, to identify user needs and priorities from the perspective of United Nations agencies, development organizations, funders, and other interested parties.

Participants in the meeting agreed to collaborate on an intercomparison study in Nigeria, to improve understanding about the advantages and limitations of different settlement, infrastructure, and population data sets and their appropriateness for different applications. There was also strong support for efforts to better coordinate data access and documentation, improve consistency and transparency of data and methods, and share data, computing resources, and expertise. Recognition is clearly growing among users and other stakeholders of the importance of these data as an essential foundation for monitoring and decision making with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as a unique resource to enable better integration of data across boundaries, time periods, and the public and private sectors.

The meeting was supported by a Cross-Cutting Initiative grant from the Earth Institute and by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. Participants included experts from Facebook, Google Earth Engine, Esri, ImageCat, the European Commission's Joint Research Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the World Bank, the WorldPop project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, and several different universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and China.


Enhancing Disaster Decision Making Addressed in Philadelphia Workshop

Sat Jan 28 00:00:00 EST 2017

When major storms or other extreme events occur, key organizations such as emergency management and utilities, transportation, and communication networks must mobilize quickly to activate and position resources and make a range of decisions to ensure public safety, reduce the severity of impacts, and improve recovery times. Representatives of a diverse set of Federal, state, and local agencies, public and private utilities, and other business groups met January 26 in Philadelphia for the second Data Driven Decision Making (D3M) workshop, held to examine how improved access to diverse earth science and socioeconomic data could help improve disaster decisionmaking in specific use cases related to flooding, power restoration, and regional situational awareness. During the meeting, CIESIN director Robert Chen gave presentations on a range of decision support tools and data sets relevant to these use cases, including the Hazards Mapper and HazPop mobile app available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), as well as data on building footprints, critical infrastructure, impervious surfaces, and social vulnerability. CIESIN is working with StormCenter Communications, Inc. to incorporate the SEDAC Population Estimation Service into StormCenter′s GeoCollaborate tool, which provides a disaster data Daily Dashboard for the Fleet Response Working Group (FRWG). The FRWG is a public-private working group of the All Hazards Consortium (AHC), co-organizer of the D3M workshops with the ESIP Federation.


Benefits of Investing in Data Repositories Examined

Sat Jan 28 00:00:00 EST 2017

The return on investment (ROI) of scientific data repositories was the subject of a workshop at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, January 25‒26. Representatives from a diverse group of repositories participated in the workshop, including Robert Downs, CIESIN senior digital archivist. Participants examined current approaches for evaluating the ROI of scientific data repositories, and explored potential methodologies for measuring and reporting the ROI in various settings. Downs gave presentations on approaches for measuring the value of scientific data centers and evaluating their impact, drawing on CIESIN′s long experience in operating the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Scenarios of Future Population Distribution To Be Developed

Fri Jan 27 00:00:00 EST 2017

CIESIN, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) Institute for Demographic Research and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), has begun an innovative modelling project for the World Bank that aims to develop scenarios of future population distribution taking into account climate impacts in key socioeconomic sectors. The project will contribute to the World Bank report, “Climate Change, Migration and Securing Resilience: An Evidence-Based Approach for Action,” to be published in late 2017. The work builds on existing spatial population projections that do not incorporate climate impacts. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, is co-leading the project. He travelled to Washington DC January 25–26 to participate in the project kickoff meeting at the World Bank.

While in DC, de Sherbinin also joined food security experts for the January 26 panel, “Ending Famines, Creating Food Security, and Fostering Thriving Livelihoods in a Changing World,” sponsored by Tetra Tech and the Wilson Center Environmental Change and Security Program. Panelists offered insights on innovative initiatives to increase food security and bolster resilience to climate-related disasters in the world’s food insecurity hotspots. Comments by de Sherbinin focused on the use of geospatial data and analytics to study the factors contributing to past crises, to address crises as they unfold, and to build resilience for the future.


Development Data Experts Gather in Cape Town

Fri Jan 20 00:00:00 EST 2017

CIESIN director Robert Chen (left) with Talip Kilic senior economist, Development Data Group, The World Bank

The first United Nations World Data Forum brought together more than 1,000 experts on sustainable development data and monitoring from approximately 100 countries to Cape Town, South Africa, January 15–18 to consider data challenges and opportunities associated with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in September 2015, significant improvements are needed in the breadth, quality, and timeliness of a diverse set of socioeconomic and environmental data and indicators, not only to support monitoring of the SDGs, but also to facilitate effective sustainable development decision-making from local to global scales. With this in mind, the UN Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development (IEAG) recommended the establishment of the World Data Forum in its 2014 report, A World That Counts. CIESIN director Robert Chen, who served as a member of the IEAG, was invited by the UN Statistics Division to join the Forum’s Programme Committee in July 2016. He coordinated more than six different sessions dealing with open data principles, technical standards and best practices, applications of geospatial and remote sensing data, and development of new data tools and services. He also gave a presentation on legal interoperability of data, based on the work of the Legal Interoperability Interest Group of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), which he co-chairs.

The Forum also served as a venue for several side events and activities. On January 19, Chen participated in the Third UN Data Innovation Lab workshop, organized by the UN World Food Programme and UN Global Pulse. He gave a presentation to mid-career staff from various UN and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on CIESIN′s partnership with Facebook and the World Bank in developing new high resolution settlement layer (HRSL) data, and ongoing efforts to develop a broader “data collaborative″ for georeferenced population, settlement, and infrastructure data. Chen also participated in January 15 and 19 meetings of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), a global network of governments, NGOs, and businesses working together to mobilize data in support of sustainable development. CIESIN is an Anchor Partner of the GPSDD and also works closely with other members such as the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

The UN World Data Forum was hosted by Statistics South Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Center. The next Forum will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in 2018.

See: Earth Negotiation Bulletin coverage of the UN World Data Forum


January Meeting to Strengthen Ties Between Diverse Communities

Sat Jan 14 00:00:00 EST 2017

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) held its winter meeting January 11–13 in Bethesda, Maryland, bringing together a diverse group of producers, managers, distributors, and users of earth science data around the theme, “Strengthening the Ties Between Observations and User Communities.” Greg Yetman, CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications; Robert Downs, senior digital archivist; and John Scialdone, Data Center Services manager, represented the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), an ESIP “Type 1” member, at the meeting. Yetman gave a presentation as part of a panel  “.Earth Science Data for Informing Decisions,” and Downs co-chaired a session, “Measuring the Value of Data,” with Ruth Duerr of the Ronin Institute. Downs also presented a poster, “Adoption of the Group on Earth Observations System of Systems Data Management Principles at a Scientific Data Center.” At the ESIP Assembly Meeting January 12, Downs was elected to the ESIP Governance Committee as the Type 1 representative. ESIP now includes more than 180 partners working cooperatively on the collection, stewardship, and use of earth science data, information, and knowledge in ways that are responsive to societal needs.

See: 2017 ESIP Winter Meeting
       "Measuring the Value of Data"--panel presentation slides


Vulnerability Assessment Results Shared with Stakeholders in Sierra Leone

Mon Jan 09 00:00:00 EST 2017

Preliminary results of a vulnerability assessment (VA) for Sierra Leone were presented recently by CIESIN associate research scientist Sylwia Trzaska in a series of meetings there in December 2016, sponsored by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The WA-BiCC project addresses direct and indirect drivers of natural resource degradation, aiming to improve livelihoods and natural ecosystems across the region. The first meeting in Freetown December 5–6 included an option analysis with project partners and a presentation to a wider audience from the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Protected Areas Authority, other government agencies, and international and non-governmental organizations. Trzaska subsequently participated in meetings December 7-15 with community and partner groups in six coastal locations where data collection had taken place. The feedback and results of the option analysis will be used in finalizing the VA and developing recommendations.

Following her trip to Sierra Leone, Trzaska travelled to Bamako, Mali, where she conducted a three-day, hands-on training on climate predictability for forecasters from Mali’s meteorological service, Mali-Météo. The training focused on the Climate Predictability Tool (CPT), developed by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) for seasonal climate forecasting.


New Year Begins with New Visitors

Thu Jan 05 00:00:00 EST 2017

This January, CIESIN has welcomed two new visitors, Haibin Xia from East China Normal University (ECNU), and Lucile Maertens, a post-doctoral fellow in political science and international relations supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Xia began a one-year research visit January 4. Now an engineer with the ECNU School of Geographic Science in Shanghai, Xia received his PhD, master's, and bachelor degrees from the ECNU College of Resources and Environment Science. At CIESIN he is continuing his research on the biophysical and climatic correlates of population distribution in China, which he presented January 12 at a brown bag lunchtime seminar at the Lamont campus. He will also work with Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, on a new project on climate change migration modeling.

Lucile Maertens arrived January 9 with an appointment as a part-time postdoctoral fellow at CIESIN through August 2017. Maertens is an associate researcher at Sciences Po in Paris and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London. She has a PhD in political science from Sciences Po and the University of Geneva (Switzerland). She is studying interactions between security, environment, and climate change, focusing in particular on United Nations practices related to security and environment in Haiti. At CIESIN, she is working with Alex de Sherbinin and CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy.


Symposium Focused on Reconciling Development and Conservation in Central India

Mon Jan 02 00:00:00 EST 2017

About 70 experts from academic, government, and private sector organizations met December 14‒17, 2016, at the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India, for the Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS). Pinki Mondal, senior research associate at CIESIN, was a co-organizer of the 2016 Symposium, which focused on the theme, “Reconciling Development, Livelihoods and Conservation Goals.” She also co-chaired the session, “The Future of Water, Climate, and Agriculture,” and gave an oral presentation, “Implications of Agricultural Intensification for Diet and Nutrition in Central India.” The Symposium concluded with a presentation by Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office in Maharashtra. Local partners in organizing the Symposium included the World Wildlife Fund-India and the Satpuda Foundation.

See: Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS)