Several CIESIN staff participated in training workshops and courses this past month. Digital archivist Yitzhak Gitelman travelled to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for a workshop tailored to data professionals, “Curating and Managing Research Data for Re-Use,” July 28–August 1. Offered by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) as part of their summer program, the workshop addressed data curation practices throughout the entire research data life cycle. CIESIN programmer James Carcone attended a jQuery training class given by Learning Tree International June 22–25 in New York City. The course covered dynamic Web 2.0 applications using JQuery, HTML, CSS, and Ajax and included hands-on experience in building and testing JQuery components. David Strom, a system administrator at CIESIN, took part in a RedHat Linux training class in Edison, New Jersey, June 21–24. The class reviewed key technologies such as systemd, firewalld, and IPv6 and related management and troubleshooting topics. These training activities were supported by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) to help ensure that SEDAC maintains state-of-the-art, secure data resources and services for its user community.
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CIESIN welcomes Shi Guoquing of Hohai University. Pictured left to right, Jichuan Sheng, CIESIN visiting scholar; Dean Shi; senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin; director Robert Chen; deputy director Marc Levy.
Shi Guoqing of Hohai University in China visited CIESIN July 29 to discuss research on resettlement programs in China. He is director of the National Center for Research on Resettlement (NCRC) and the dean of the Public Administration School at Hohai, where he served as an academic advisor to current CIESIN visiting scholar Jichuan Sheng. CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin is a visiting professor at Hohai and a senior advisor to NCRC. Dean Shi gave a presentation on China’s resettlement programs for the Three Gorges Dam and the South-North Water Transfer Project, among other major projects. Since the 1950’s, approximately 200 million people have been resettled in China because of large infrastructure projects.
CIESIN geographic information specialist Malanding Jaiteh returned to Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 12–16 to continue efforts to expand the geospatial capabilities of the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (SL EPA). Jaiteh met with the director of the SL EPA, Madame Haddijatou Jallow, and her staff to assess their current resource and training needs for spatial analysis, mapping, and environmental monitoring and modeling. He also provided training on geographic information system (GIS) tools and data collection and management. The SL EPA has recently purchased equipment and hired personnel, drawing on recommendations from an earlier CIESIN visit.
In Rockville, Maryland, July 24–25, CIESIN associate research scientist Susana Adamo attended a technical consultation organized by the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program. Participants in the meeting, “Geographic Masking and Displacement of GPS Data for Household Surveys,” included demographers such as Adamo and former CIESIN scientist Deborah Balk, now with Baruch College of the City University of New York; other researchers and GIS specialists; and representatives from organizations such as MEASURE, the US Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The focus of the meeting was to explore the balance between making social science and health data with spatial coordinates from global positioning system (GPS) technologies publicly available, while also addressing privacy concerns, and to identify best practices and new methodologies to achieve this balance. The DHS Program collects data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through surveys held in more than 90 countries, and supports analysis and dissemination of these data.
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) recently released version two of the Urban-Rural Population and Land Area Estimates as part of the SEDAC Low-Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ) collection, providing aggregate estimates of land area and urban, rural, and total population for 202 statistical areas (countries and other UN-recognized territories). Population and land area estimates are subdivided by elevation zones derived from the NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation data. The analysis was conducted using two different spatial resolutions, approximately 90 meters and approximately 1 kilometer, providing a range of estimates. Pivot tables enable grouping and filtering of data by country, region, continent, income level, elevation zone, and other attributes.
Version one of this data set only provided estimates for the 10-meter elevation zone, whereas version two includes selected elevation levels between 1 and 20 meters. Version two also incorporates improvements in the coastline boundaries and provides population estimates for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010 along with a long-term projection to the year 2100.
CIESIN geospatial information specialists Erin Doxsey-Whitfield, Dara Mendeloff, and Linda Pistolesi at the 2014 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California, July 14−18. The poster highlights developments in the fourth version of CIESIN′s flagship data product, the Gridded Population of the World (GPW).
CIESIN geospatial information specialists Erin Doxsey-Whitfield, Dara Mendeloff, and Linda Pistolesi attended the 2014 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California, July 14−18. At the Monday night Map Gallery, the team presented a poster highlighting developments in the fourth version of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set, including the addition of new census variables and increased spatial resolution of input units. They also participated in pre-conference seminars and technical workshops, and Mendeloff attended the Esri Education GIS Conference. Esri′s annual conference typically attracts more than 15,000 geospatial data and technology experts from around the world.
Prof. Shojiro Tanaka of Shimane University describes the deforestation-population model on a visit to CIESIN July 18. Lamont Campus, Palisades, New York.
Professor Shojiro Tanaka of the Division of Information Systems, Graduate School of Science and Engineering at Shimane University,and Professor Ryuei Nishii of the Math for Industry Institute at Kyushu University visited CIESIN on July 18 to discuss their use of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set in modeling global deforestation and to explore possible areas of future collaboration. CIESIN staff members shared progress in developing GPW version 4, which will be released later in 2014 through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. The visit by Professors Tanaka and Nishii was supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture.
Jichuan Sheng, an assistant professor from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, has begun a one-year visit with CIESIN. Sheng is conducting independent research on public policy and management related to the international initiative REDD+, which builds on the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution that involves sustainable approaches to forest management consistent with UN-REDD Programme mandates to develop economic processes for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands. Sheng received his PhD in management and his BA in economics from Hohai University in Nanjing, China. He is also a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Urban and Environmental Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
Robert Downs, CIESIN senior digital archivist, recently travelled to Copper Mountain, Colorado, to participate in back-to-back meetings of the earth science data community. At the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) User Group Meeting July 6–7, which focused on improving capabilities of earth science data facilities, Downs presented a poster on the use of digital object identifiers (DOIs) in fostering data attribution. He then participated in the 2014 Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Summer Meeting July 7–11, which addressed ways to improve the management, dissemination, and use of earth science data. At this meeting, he gave presentations on implementing DOIs and on software citation, and presented a poster on improving review of scientific data for public dissemination. He also co-convened the Science Sustainability Roundtable and gave a short presentation on a user’s perspective of sustainable software. He participated in the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Earth Science as an elected ESIP Federation representative.
The influence of environmental factors on migration is discussed in a recent Wilson Center blog that features the work of CIESIN associate research scientist Susana Adamo. Although the role of climate change in migration is still under debate, Adamo says that because of increased migration, what has been termed the “geography of vulnerability” is changing. Coastal ecosystems, she notes, are experiencing increased in-migration, and may also become more vulnerable to climate change impacts such as storm surges exacerbated by sea-level rise. But as the vulnerability of these areas increases, increased out-migration may result. One of the main challenges, she says, is to find reliable ways to determine the influence of environmental factors. The blog is part of the New Security Beat blogspot of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The EarthCube All Hands Meeting held in Washington DC June 24–26 brought together members of the earth science community to share progress and plan future activities. CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs presented a poster at the session June 23 on the use of online educational technology to improve capabilities for data sharing and use. The following day, in collaboration with Leslie Hsu and Kerstin Lehnert of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Erin Robinson of the Foundation for Earth Science, and Ilya Zaslavsky of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Downs organized a breakout session on workforce development. At the same session he also presented, “Professional Development for an Evolving Earth Science Workforce,” authored with CIESIN director Robert Chen. The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched EarthCube in 2011 as a collaborative partnership between NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) and the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) to support data sharing across the geosciences.
At an Expert Roundtable, “Designing Indicators for the SDGs: Collecting Comprehensive, Timely Data,” convened in New York City June 23–24 by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in cooperation with the UN Statistics Division (UNSD), CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy gave a presentation on environmental sustainability data gaps relevant to the SDSN draft sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDSN supports the development of the SDGs to address the challenges of economic development, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and good governance, in relation to the Millennium Development Goals to end poverty.
Associate research scientist Susana Adamo and senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin joined a group of demographers, geographers, economists, and modelers for a workshop focused on demographic scenarios in support of the US Global Change Research Program and the National Climate Assessment. Held June 23–24 in Rockville, Maryland, the workshop aimed to assess key factors in the production of long-term scenarios of U.S. demographic change for use in interdisciplinary analysis of social and environmental issues. Discussion recognized that trends in fertility and mortality will be easier to predict than migration, and population characteristics will be the hardest to project, especially for smaller administrative units. Scenario development following different story lines with internally consistent narratives was suggested as a way to characterize multiple possible futures.
Staff from CIESIN, LDEO, and the Agriculture and Food Security Center and scientists from the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences at the Comer Building on the Lamont campus, Palisades, New York, June 23.
A delegation of twenty scientists from the Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences visited the Lamont campus the morning of June 23 to learn about the Earth Institute’s diverse work in the area of agriculture and food security. An overview of the Earth Institute and CIESIN’s research and data resources related to agriculture and climate was presented by CIESIN director Robert Chen, followed by a description of the processing and soils data delivery component of the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS), provided by staff associate Kimberly Peng. Mark Musumba, postdoctoral research fellow with the Agriculture and Food Security Center, summarized plans for the Vital Signs project, which is focused on integrated agricultural development in Tanzania. Lamont associate research professor Benjamin Bostick concluded the visit with a presentation on arsenic and other heavy metal contamination of soils, a major issue for public health and agriculture in China and other parts of Asia. The delegation was led by Prof. Jianjun Liu, vice president of the Sichuan Academy.
Geospatial data are developed and managed by many different government agencies but are used for many different purposes by the broad geodata research and applications community. Addressing the social, political, financial, and technical issues of connecting geodata in and among governmental agencies was the focus of the GeoData 2014 workshop, held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, June 17–19. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave an invited presentation as part of the first plenary panel, highlighting the complex network of stakeholders and challenges strengthening collaboration and ensuring long-term sustainability. The workshop plenary and panel sessions were livecast and will be posted for viewing. A workshop report is also in preparation. The workshop was sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and aimed at complementing the NSF EarthCube initiative by extending the scope of the discourse beyond the NSF-funded geoscience research community.
Future climate vulnerability under scenario RCP8.5, a high-concentration pathway described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for 2050.
A new report on mapping climate vulnerability hotspots in Mali, West Africa, has been produced under the auspices of the project, African and Latin American Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Authored by a team led by senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin, the report uses a spatial vulnerability index comprised of 18 indicators grouped into three vulnerability components: climate exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The index suggests that relatively large areas of northern Mali have high vulnerability, although they are thinly settled; the capital, Bamako, has low vulnerability; and the southeast, which is the most densely populated area of Mali, has medium to medium-high vulnerability. Downscaled future climate scenarios indicate an expansion of higher vulnerability regions southward (see map; areas north of 17.2° N were excluded because of data limitations). The mapping exercise integrated several data sets from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN with satellite-derived vegetation and soil carbon data.
USGS environmental scientist Chandra Giri and CIESIN geographic information specialist meet on break from the June 14 meeting of the SEDAC User Working Group, of which Giri is a member. A former CIESIN researcher, he led development of the new Mangroves data, in collaboration with Jaiteh.
The User Working Group (UWG) of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) met June 12–13 at Columbia University to assess SEDAC’s recent progress and planned strategic initiatives in areas such as urban land use change and infrastructure data development. Chaired by Molly Macauley of Resources for the Future, the meeting brought together UWG members from a range of scientific disciplines and institutions along with representatives from NASA headquarters and the Goddard Space Flight Center. Uwe Deichmann of the World Bank, a member since 2011, Nancy Searby of the NASA Applied Sciences Program, and SEDAC’s manager Robert Chen gave presentations on the use of SEDAC data in research, training, and applications. Stephen Mooney of the Built Environment and Health Research Group, Columbia University also gave a short presentation on crowd sourcing of socioeconomic and health data. The UWG advises NASA and CIESIN on the continued operation and development of SEDAC.
CIESIN joins the national and international geospatial community in mourning the passing of Douglas Nebert, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) expert who died in a small plane accident May 31 in Oregon. Nebert, age 51, was a senior advisor for geospatial technology at the USGS and an internationally known leader in promoting data interoperability and the development of geospatial data infrastructure. He was a recipient of the Kenneth D. Gardels Award of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and contributed actively to the work of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). CIESIN staff members interacted with Nebert extensively over the past 15 years on geospatial data and metadata activities in support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and through the OGC and GEO.
A delegation from the Iraq Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Planning met with CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy and senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin at CIESIN June 5. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the availability and quality of Iraq’s data in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and possible collaboration on mechanisms to help Iraq better track progress on key environmental issues. The delegation was headed by Ali Abdulzahra Al-Lami, deputy minister of environment.
New methods for improving data on intercity roads are reviewed and assessed in an article by Taro Ubukawa of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, CIESIN associate research scientist Alex de Sherbinin, and others, just published in the CODATA Data Science Journal. The article, “A Review of Roads Data Development Methodologies,” was produced by the International Council for Science Committee on Data for Science and Technology (ICSU-CODATA) Global Roads Data Development Task Group (CODATA gROADS), which de Sherbinin chairs. Ubukawa was a visiting scholar at CIESIN from 2012 to 2013.
Yuanyuan Yang, a graduate student in land resource management at the College of Earth Sciences of Jilin University in China and staff associate at CIESIN, is lead author of the article, “A Review of Historical Reconstruction Methods of Land Use/Land Cover,” published in the August issue of the Journal of Geographical Sciences. Xiaoshi Xing, CIESIN information scientist, is also a co-author.
Senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin participated in the International Symposium on Environmental Change and Migration held May 28–29 in Washington DC. Sponsored by The World Bank Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), the symposium included a presentation by de Sherbinin, “Resettlement in an Age of Dislocations,” as part of a panel on resettlement migration as a risk management strategy. One of the panel moderators was Koko Warner of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, who collaborated with de Sherbinin and others on the climate and migration projects and reports, Where the Rain Falls and In Search of Shelter. KNOMAD is a group within the World Bank that acts as a global hub of knowledge and policy expertise on migration and development issues.
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