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.
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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.
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN has appointed five new members to the SEDAC User Working Group (UWG) for four-year terms: Curtis Brainard, blog editor of Scientific American; Guido Cervone of the Institute for CyberScience at Pennsylvania State University; Audrey Dorélien of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota; William McConnell of the Center for Global Change & Earth Observations at Michigan State University; and Lela Prashad of NiJeL, Inc. The new members strengthen the UWG′s expertise in such areas as population and health data, remote sensing applications, data science, and user outreach. Chaired by Myron Gutmann of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado, the UWG provides strategic guidance regarding SEDAC user needs and its interdisciplinary data and services. The UWG met June 14–15 in Washington DC to review recent SEDAC progress, advise on potential “big data” approaches that SEDAC could utilize in developing new data and services, and provide input on future development of mobile apps to address specific user needs.
Saleem Khan, Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CIESIN, gave a seminar on his research, “COREDAR: A Capacity Building Framework and Tool for Sea-level Rise Risk Communication and Urban Community-based Adaptation,” hosted by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) June 14 on the Columbia University Lamont Campus in Palisades, New York. Khan is nearing the end of his one-year postdoctoral appointment at CIESIN, working with director Robert Chen and associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin. He has a PhD in climate change from the Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research, Anna University, in Chennai, India, and was named a 2013 Next Generation Climate Change Scholar by the Dissertation Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research (DISCCRS).
How the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN helps “put people on the map” was the topic of an informal seminar given by CIESIN director Robert Chen and associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin June 13 at Resources for the Future (RFF) in Washington DC. The seminar, which drew more than 25 RFF staff and interns, provided an overview of SEDAC data and services useful to research and applications on interactions between human and environmental systems. It was organized by the RFF vice president for research and Senior Fellow, Molly Macauley, who served as chair of the SEDAC User Working Group from 2010 to 2014. Chen serves as SEDAC manager and de Sherbinin is SEDAC deputy manager.
A new project, Global High Resolution Population Denominators, has been initiated by WorldPop, an international population mapping initiative, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. CIESIN and the University of Louisville are partners in the project, which is led by Andy Tatem of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, and Linda Pistolesi, geographic information specialist, joined other project partners at a kickoff meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, June 8–9. Yetman gave a presentation on version 4 of the Gridded Population of the World (GPWv4) data collection developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN. GPWv4 incorporates recent census data with many more input census units than previous versions. GPWv4 data will be used to update and extend modeled population data developed by the project.
The First Annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals was held June 6–7 at United Nations headquarters in New York City, aimed at building science, technology and innovation (STI) cooperation around thematic areas for the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). In conjunction with the STI Forum, the International Council for Science (ICSU) organized a side event June 6, “Co-designing fit-for-purpose Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) systems at national, regional and international levels.″ CIESIN director Robert Chen was one of the session′s panelists, giving a brief presentation on several innovative efforts to improve data and information access and use in local and national decision making. The side event was co-organized with Future Earth, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), and the Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START).
CIESIN, based on CHIRPS FCLIM
Map showing changes in rainfall 1981–2010 for the April–June rainy season. From the report Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services.
Until now, studies of climate change loss and damage have focused mostly on economic losses associated with disruption of livelihoods and damage to built infrastructure. A new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme, Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services, is the first to comprehensively explore, on the one hand, how ecosystems may experience loss and damage from climate extremes and, on the other, how healthy ecosystems may reduce loss and damage from a changing climate. The report presents five case studies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America that provide real world examples of climate impacts, highlighting a range of climate stressors such as drought, floods, heat waves, and cyclones. The case studies also illustrate ecosystem-based approaches to climate adaptation. CIESIN produced two of the case studies, described in sections 3.1 and 3.2, which use data from the soon-to-be-released Gridded Population of the World version 4 (GPWv4) data set together with NASA remote sensing data. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, is a lead author and Tricia Chai-Onn, geographic information specialist, Al Pinto, senior media designer, and Sylwia Traska, associate research scientist, are contributing authors.
Susana Adamo, CIESIN research scientist, joined approximately 10 early- and mid-career researchers and policy communicators for the second annual workshop on climate, migration, and health at the University of Colorado's Institute of Behavioral Science and its Population Center in Boulder, Colorado, May 26–27. The sub-theme of this year’s workshop was “connections through urbanization,” with a geographic focus on Latin America. Adamo gave a presentation, “Migrants in Urban Areas of Developing Countries: Exposure and Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards.” The workshop was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for science applications, joined demographers, geographers, economists, and other researchers in a workshop on environment and migration issues sponsored by the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), held at World Bank headquarters in Washington DC May 9–10. He presented the methodology used to develop the data set, Global Estimated Net Migration Grids By Decade, v1 (1970 – 2000), available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center, and discussed approaches to integrating remote sensing and socioeconomic data in climate vulnerability mapping. The workshop explored the data sources and methods available to assess the role of environmental change in migration and in particular the number of people who may have migrated primarily or partially as the result of environmental extremes or other environmental factors.
CIESIN director Robert Chen traveled to Geneva May 2–6 for a meeting organized by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the conference, “GIS for a Sustainable World,” sponsored by Esri. GEO held its annual Work Programme Symposium, aimed at furthering its 2016 activities and planning its 2017–19 work programme. Chen reported on activities of the GEO Data Sharing Working Group (DSWG), which he co-chairs, and gave a presentation on data related to human settlements, infrastructure, and population in support of a proposed GEO Human Planet Initiative. He also participated in planning a GEO initiative on Earth Observations in service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While in Geneva, Chen gave a presentation, “Integrating Population and Infrastructure Data in Support of Climate Services,” in the session, “Climate Services and the SDGs″ at the Esri conference May 4. He then co-chaired a working meeting of the GEO DSWG May 5.
Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, also traveled to Geneva to participate in an expert meeting on the use of space technologies for environmental monitoring and humanitarian affairs, organized by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) May 11–13. He gave a presentation, “Integrating Sensor and Socioeconomic Data,″ highlighting a range of geospatial data sets developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) that may be useful in disaster management and environmental applications. He also attended the UNOOSA/GEO Discovery Day May 13 at the World Meteorological Organization, supported by DigitalGlobe.
Countries with high economic dependence may have a strong incentive to negotiate benefit-sharing agreements and implement integrated river basin management.
International river basins are under growing pressure from water stress related to human activities, impoundments, poor governance, and climate change, a new report finds. The report, Transboundary River Basins: Status and Trends, is an outcome of the Global Environment Facility Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme, led by the UNEP-DHI Center on Waste and Environment, CIESIN, and other partners. The report documents a baseline assessment of all transboundary water resources on Earth, the most comprehensive analysis of its kind to date. A team from CIESIN led by Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, and Valentina Mara, senior research associate, authored the chapter on socioeconomic indicators, calculating three indicators of risk: economic dependence on water resources; societal well-being levels; and the risk of climate-related hazards. CIESIN geographic information specialist Malanding Jaiteh and deputy director Marc Levy were contributing authors. Findings include that climate-related risk is linked to high economic dependence on transboundary water resources and low well-being; and well-being is linked to governance capacity to address climate-related disasters. In addition to the Final Technical Report and the Summary for Policy Makers, an interactive results portal provides access to global maps of assessment results and indicator metadata sheets. All assessment results, analyses, and supplementary data may be freely downloaded.
CIESIN demographer Susana Adamo (far left) presented at the Mexico City conference, “Big Data Revolution in the Social Sciences.” Both academics and policymakers participated in the event, which was streamed live April 29 from El Colegio de Mexico.
CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo gave a presentation on “Integrating Traditional and Big Data in the Social Sciences: Challenges and Possibilities″ April 29 at the conference, La Revolución Big Data en Estudios Sociales (“The Big Data Revolution in the Social Sciences″) in Mexico City. The conference sought to raise awareness of the importance of “big data” for the social science community, its use in exploring questions pertinent to research in Mexico, and its impact on policy making. The 1,700 registrants included both prominent researchers who shared their research agendas and policymakers who with the academic community helped to identify new research niches using big data. The conference, which was streamed live with presentations in both Spanish and English, was jointly organized by the World Bank and El Colegio de Mexico. The video of the conference is available on YouTube.
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