In preparation for the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC), a preparatory seminar, “Migrations, Environment, and Climate Change: Perspectives of Human Mobility through 2050,” was held September 5–6 at the Palacio de las Aguas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The seminar explored the links between climate change and migration through an exchange between specialists and public stakeholders. In the first plenary session CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo gave a presentation, “Situation and Global Trends of Environmental Migration and Climate Change.” The seminar was a joint initiative of COP 22 and the International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH) and was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Secretary of Human Rights and Multiculturalism, the foundation of Sanitary Workers for Training and development, and the Department of Dialogue and Culture, all of Argentina.
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CIESIN associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin and research scientist Alessandra Giannini of the International Resarch Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) participated in a work planning meeting for the new SERVIR-West Africa Regional Hub at the Agriculture, Hydrology and Meteorology Regional Center (AGRHYMET) in Niamey, Niger, August 30–September 2. CIESIN and IRI are providing technical assistance in geospatial technologies and climate science, as part of a team led by Tetra Tech Inc. NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the SERVIR-West Africa hub in July 2016 to strengthen monitoring of the environment in West Africa.
CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications Greg Yetman gave a lightning talk, “Mapping the Environment,″ at the Facebook event, “Data for Good,” held August 26 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The talk highlighted many examples of innovative data efforts to map environmental and demographic change from local to global levels, including a selection of data and tools available from various CIESIN projects. The event aimed to identify promising opportunities for generating data visualizations to inform innovations in development, humanitarian action, and government planning.
Users of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) are again invited to participate in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey for the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The annual survey assesses user satisfaction with the data, tools, and support provided by EOSDIS data centers and services. SEDAC, which serves a wide range of basic and applied users interested in the integration of remote sensing and socioeconomic data, is one of the data centers evaluated by the survey. Survey results help to justify NASA′s continuing investment in EOSDIS data services and support, and enable SEDAC to address problems, improve data and services, and identify high priority user needs and concerns.
All SEDAC users are encouraged to participate in the survey. Beginning September 1, users with an Earthdata user name registered with SEDAC will receive an e-mail invitation from the Claes Fornell International (CFI) Group on behalf of NASA, requesting participation in the survey. The questionnaire takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and optional comment fields are provided to address user concerns. The identity of respondents is not shared with SEDAC. Anyone who has used SEDAC data or information resources, including not only the SEDAC Web site itself but also the HazPop mobile app available from the iTunes store or other SEDAC resources available through Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, or third-party map clients, may take the survey. If you did not receive an invitation but wish to participate in the survey please write to SEDAC User Services at email@example.com and we will pass your contact information on to the CFI Group.
The updated Population Estimation Service uses data from the Gridded Population of the World version 4 (GPWv4) data collection to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area defined by the user.
If you've ever wondered how many people might be affected by an earthquake or tsunami, or what the total population is in a major metropolitan region, the new version of the Population Estimation Service (PES) can provide you with those answers. The PES is a Web-based service that enables mapping tools to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area of interest, without having to download and analyze large amounts of spatial data. The latest version of PES, available through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, draws on data from SEDAC′s recently released Gridded Population of the World, version 4 (GPWv4) data collection. It provides population estimates and associate statistics for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. A new client application, the SEDAC Population Estimator, enables users to draw a polygon or circle around an area of interest, and then obtain an estimate of the population in 2015 living in that area. Other SEDAC mapping tools such as the HazPop mobile app also utilize the updated PES, supporting analysis and visualization of population data in conjunction with remote sensing imagery and other types of data such as the location of critical infrastructure. The PES was first released in 2010.
Following up on a visit March 2016 to New York City by representatives from the Center for Regional Agriculture and Rural Development (CRARD), on August 23 a CIESIN delegation visited CRARD, part of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a brief overview of CIESIN research, data, and other activities to CRARD staff, and then signed a letter of agreement with CRARD’s director, Prof. Yansui Liu. The letter affirms plans by the two organizations to collaborate on topics of mutual interest related to poverty mapping, land resource management, agricultural sustainability, soil mapping, and applications of remote sensing and geospatial technologies. Also visiting were CIESIN associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing. Yuanyuan Yang, a research assistant at CRARD who was a visiting scholar at CIESIN during 2013–2015, facilitated development of the partnership.
CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing joined thousands of geographers from around the world at the 33rd International Geographical Congress (IGC) August 22–23. Held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, the IGC focused on the theme “Shaping Our Harmonious Worlds.” Chen gave an invited talk August 22 , “The Power of Indicators to Track Environmental Performance and the SDGs,” co-authored with de Sherbinin and CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy, in the special session, “Global Environment: UNEP-CODATA-Sponsored.” The session was co-organized by Jinhua Zhang of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Liu Chuang of the Institute for Geographical Science and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR). On August 23, Chen presented, “Integrating Multidisciplinary Data to Address Complex Urban Challenges in a Changing Global Environment,” in a session, “Advances in Urban Physical Geography,” organized by Prof. Min Liu of East China Normal University (ECNU). In the same session, Xing gave a presentation, “Mapping and Geospatial Analysis of the Model Estimates of Emissions from Fossil Fuel Power Plants and Impacts to Urban Population in China,” co-authored with CIESIN geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff and two former interns from École Polytechnique in France. In a later session in the series, de Sherbinin described work assessing flood risk in three mega-cities, New York, Mumbai, and Shanghai. Chen also gave a brief intervention in the International Geographical Union (IGU)-CODATA Joint Round Table Session on Data Publishing and Sharing in Developing Countries. Prof. Liu Chuang is co-chair of the CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in/for/with Developing Countries (PASTD) and a former scientist at CIESIN when it was a non-profit organization based in Michigan.
Attendees at the Shanghai Forum on Climate Change and Cities, August 19, where the opening ceremony for a new east Asian regional hub of UCCRN was held, hosted by East China Normal University.
A new regional hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) has been established at East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. CIESIN has also developed a collaborative relationship with the ECNU School of Geographic Sciences, focused on common research interests related to disasters, environment, and geographic science and applications.
The opening ceremony for the UCCRN regional hub at ECNU, which will serve as an Asian focal point for research on climate change and cities, was held August 19 at ECNU as part of the Shanghai Forum on Climate Change and Cities. CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing participated in the forum, together with the UCCRN international program manager, Somayya Ali Ibrahim, and other scientists from ECNU, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Southampton. Chen gave a brief overview of CIESIN’s urban climate change activities, de Sherbinin gave a presentation on flood risk in coastal mega-cities, and Xing described the observed impacts data available from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Center (DDC) co-managed by CIESIN.
Prof. Min Liu, dean of the School of Geographic Sciences at ECNU, is co-directing the regional hub together with Xiaotu Lei of the China Meteorological Administration. Faculty member Ruishan Chen, a visiting scholar at CIESIN during 2011–2013, was appointed as coordinator of the UCCRN regional hub. Established in May 2007 by Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, and by William Solecki of Hunter College, the UCCRN is a consortium of individuals and institutions dedicated to the analysis of climate change mitigation and adaptation from an urban perspective.
CIESIN’s collaboration with ECNU will focus on disaster risk assessment and management, remote sensing applications, urbanization and climate change, and environmental pollution. A letter of agreement was signed by Prof. Liu and director Chen at a signing ceremony August 22 in Beijing. The collaboration is expected to encompass joint workshops, exchange of visitors, and collaborative research activities.
Representatives from the Center for Regional Agriculture and Rural Development (CRARD) Yansui Lui, director (far right) and Yuanyuan Yang, research assistant (far left) with CIESIN researchers Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications (second from left) and Pinki Mondal, senior research associate (second from right), at the International Conference on Land Use and Rural Sustainability held August 18–20 in Xi'an, China.
CIESIN associate director Alex de Sherbinin and senior research associate Pinki Mondal attended the International Conference on Land Use and Rural Sustainability held August 18–20 in Xi'an, China. A keynote address on spatial indicators of land degradation was presented by de Sherbinin, and Mondal served as session chair and discussant for two sessions. She also presented a paper, ″Quantifying Fluctuations in Winter Predictive Cropped Area in the Central India Highlands.″ The conference was organized by the Institute for Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, several Chinese universities, and the International Geographical Union.
CIESIN joins the geoinformatics and geology communities in mourning the sudden passing of M. Lee Allison, Arizona State geologist and director of the Arizona Geological Survey, on August 16. Allison was a key figure in the e-Infrastructure and Data Management activities of the Belmont Forum and in the EarthCube initiative of the National Science Foundation. He was also active in Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP Federation), OneGeology, and the Geological Society of America. His vision and leadership will be sorely missed.
The Sixth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held at UN headquarters in New York City August 3–5, with several side events scheduled August 1–2. CIESIN was an observer at the UNGGIM plenary session, and contributed to discussions about the establishment of a new UN-GGIM Academic Network. CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for geospatial applications Greg Yetman, GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, and intern David Hugens participated in several side events and in the plenary. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) recently adopted a resolution strengthening the UN-GGIM and its institutional arrangements on geospatial information management. CIESIN is a nongovernmental organization recognized by ECOSOC.
A National Science Foundation (NSF) Workshop, “Geospatial Data Science in the Era of Big Data and CyberGIS,″ was held at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Urbana, Illinois, July 25–26, and was followed by the Third International Conference on CyberGIS and Geospatial Data Science July 26–28. CIESIN Geographic Information System (GIS) Programmer Kytt MacManus attended both events. He gave a lightning talk, “Bad Data Leads to Bad Decisions: Can Big Data and CyberGIS Help Improve Data-Informed Decision Making?” at the NSF workshop, which brought together thought leaders and cutting-edge researchers from multidisciplinary communities to explore advances in geospatial data science. At the conference he presented a poster on the recently updated Population Estimation Service,developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN. The two meetings were organized by the NCSA CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies.
The 2016 Summer Meeting of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), held in Durham, North Carolina, July 19–22, focused on the theme, “Frontiers in Earth Sciences Big Data,″ examining topics such as the meaning of the term “Big Data″ and the benefits of Big Data technologies for research. CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs gave several presentations, including “User Interface Design for Online Data Collections″ on July 20; “Expanding the Use of Digital Object Identifiers for Interdisciplinary Scientific Data,″ “Return on Investment for Data Repositories,″ and “Review of the Beagrie and Houghton Report: The Value and Impact of the European Bioinformatics EBI Institute″ on July 21; and “Introduction to the Information Quality Use Case on the Data Rice Cooker Theory″ on July 22. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is one of the founding members of the ESIP Federation, which brings together innovative science, data, and information technology practitioners from the earth sciences and related fields. Downs is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Earth Science, which manages ESIP.
Several student interns have joined CIESIN for the summer. Melissa Gallant is completing an MS in sustainability management at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and has a BA in environmental studies with a minor in Chinese. Previously, she worked on several projects at Tetra Tech, Inc., funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and interned with the Earth Institute Executive Director’s Office, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in Urumqi, China. With geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff, Gallant is helping to update the Global Subnational Infant Mortality Rates (IMR) data set, a gridded data product of IMR estimates.
Also pursuing an MS in sustainability management at the School of Professional Studies, David Hugens graduated from California State University, Chico, with a BA in physical and environmental geography. From 2010 to 2015 he worked as a Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst at the Geographical Information Center of the California State University Research Foundation. He is the founder and co-host of SustSpec, a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to the discussion of modern sustainability practices and experiences. Hugens is assisting with census data acquisition for the next release of the Gridded Population of the World version 4 (GPWv4) data set, working with GIS programmer Kytt MacManus and others.
Yanni Zhan is an MA student in the Columbia University Climate and Society program. She has a BS in applied meteorology from Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangdong, China, where she worked as a research assistant in the environmental science lab, including programming for meteorological data visualization. At CIESIN she is working with remote sensing scientist Xue Liu and program coordinator Jen Mulvey on remote sensing co-variate development and maintenance for the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS).
CIESIN joins the family, friends, and colleagues of Molly Macauley, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future (RFF), in mourning her sudden and tragic death July 8 in her Baltimore neighborhood. Macauley was a distinguished economist working on a range of space and science policy issues, widely respected and admired for her leadership, expertise, and warmth. From mid–2010 to mid–2014, she served as chair of the User Working Group (UWG) of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, providing valuable guidance and support to SEDAC. In mid-June, she hosted a talk about SEDAC data and services at RFF, attended by many RFF summer interns and other colleagues. All of us at CIESIN, together with current and former members of the SEDAC UWG, wish to convey our deepest sympathies to Macauley′s family, to her colleagues at RFF, and to her many dear friends and colleagues around the world.
CIESIN and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) will provide technical assistance to the West Africa hub of the SERVIR project, a joint venture between NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). SERVIR provides state-of-the-art, satellite-based earth monitoring data, geospatial information, and tools to strengthen environmental decision-making in developing nations in several regions—Eastern and Southern Africa, the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya region, and the Mekong River Basin—and is now expanding to West Africa. CIESIN will help develop applications of NASA data products for regional decision-making and build capacity among regional partners, acting as a subcontractor to TetraTech/ARD, manager of the West Africa hub for USAID and NASA. Paul Bartel, a former member of the SEDAC User Working Group, leads the Science and Data component of the project. CIESIN is also working with TetraTech/ARD on the USAID West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) project.
Strategies for implementing new principles for citation and attribution of scientific data were the focus of the Data Citation Workshop: Developing Policy and Practice, held July 12 at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in Washington DC. The workshop was part of an international series bringing together scientists, data professionals, and other stakeholders to examine the value, use, and challenges of data citation across diverse scientific disciplines. Marcia McNutt, the new president of the National Academy of Sciences, gave the opening keynote, “Data Sharing: Some Cultural Perspectives.″ Robert Downs, CIESIN senior digital archivist, joined the group of data creators, data managers, journal editors, academic decision-makers, tool developers, and representatives of government agencies and other interested organizations participating in the full-day workshop. The workshop was organized by a joint Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices of the International Council for Science (ICSU) Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI), in collaboration with the U.S. National Committee for CODATA, part of the Board on Research Data and Information at the National Academies.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) held its 24th meeting at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) in Helsinki, Finland, July 6–8. CIESIN director Robert Chen, an ex officio member of the TGICA and co-manager of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC), participated in the meeting together with Xiaoshi Xing, the CIESIN information scientist who coordinates CIESIN′s component of the DDC. Key issues addressed at the meeting included improving access to the data used to generate key figures from the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report (AR5), development of inputs on data needs and management for the proposed IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, and planning for TGICA and DDC activities during the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) cycle, should the IPCC Plenary approve their continuation in fall 2016. The group also met with local experts on climate change research and policy in Finland, including Dr. Lea Kauppi, director general of SYKE.
The TGICA provides scientific oversight to the DDC, which is operated by the Center for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) in the United Kingdom, the World Data Center for Climate (WDCC) in Germany, and the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) at CIESIN. The TGICA serves as a key coordination mechanism for climate-related data and scenarios between the three IPCC working groups and across successive IPCC assessments.
CIESIN staffed an exhibit booth at the Esri User Conference June 28 in San Diego, California. Left to right, geographic information specialist Malanding Jaiteh, senior research assistants Alyssa Fico and John Squires, and associate director Greg Yetman.
CIESIN received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award June 29 from Esri at its annual user conference in San Diego CA, one of 167 organizations selected from more than 300,000 eligible candidates in the agriculture, defense, transportation, non-profit, telecommunications, and state and local government sectors. The award acknowledges CIESIN’s innovative application of technology, data collection, geospatial information visualization, and thought leadership using geographic information systems (GIS) in interdisciplinary research on human interactions with the environment. “A SAG award recognizes best practices for organizations implementing technology to change the world,” said Esri founder and President Jack Dangermond. “Highlighting good work benefits the entire GIS community and that’s valuable.”
At the Esri Map Gallery on June 27, Malanding Jaiteh, geographic information specialist, and Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, presented a poster authored by Jaiteh, which highlighted data from the Gridded Species Distribution collection distributed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. Yetman and senior research staff assistant Alyssa Fico presented a poster describing the Hudson River Flood Hazard Risk project, which Fico authored with Yetman, GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, and senior research assistant Jane Mills. CIESIN′s exhibit booth opened June 28 and featured the Hudson River Flood Hazard Decision Support System as well as the SEDAC Hazard Mapper and mobile app, HazPop. That day Yetman gave a demonstration on the development of indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community, drawing on version four of SEDAC's Gridded Population of the World (GPWv4) data collection, satellite-based air quality measurements, and other SEDAC data and services. Later, Yetman served on a panel, “Sustainable Development Goals: Spatial Data for Development.”
The annual Esri User Conference typically attracts more than 16,000 experts in and users of GIS data. CIESIN utilizes Esri technologies to support both internal needs and external services and hosts the Esri site license for Columbia University through its GIS Service Center.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the international community in September 2015, recognizes the need for “quality, accessible, timely, and reliable disaggregated data” to help measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with respect to income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location, and other relevant characteristics. Such disaggregated data are especially valuable not only in ensuring that no one is left behind, but also in efforts to reach the “furthest behind first.” To follow up on this issue, the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and UNICEF organized an Expert Group Meeting on Data Disaggregation at the UNICEF House in New York City June 27–29. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a presentation, “Data Disaggregation by Geographic Location: Mapping Population, Settlements, and Infrastructure,” highlighting relevant efforts in the research community to develop highly disaggregated but also well-integrated data resources to support scientific and development community needs. He participated in a panel discussion on disaggregation by geographic location and a breakout group on population mapping. More than 30 experts from statistical agencies, UN bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions attended the three-day meeting.
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