Charles Teller, who had a long and distinguished career in the field of population and development, passed away August 28. Teller was a Population Research Bureau (PRB) Bixby Visiting Fellow, a senior technical advisor in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health, director of the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, and visiting professor at the Center for Population Studies at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He served as a steering committee member for the Population and Environment Research Network hosted by CIESIN, and was active in population-environment sessions at meetings of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and the Population Association of America (PAA).
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Last year,the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) distributed more than 800 million data products to about 1.7 million users around the world, at an average rate of 22 terabytes of data per day. In order to assess how satisfied users were with the data, tools, and support provided by EOSDIS data centers, NASA commissions an annual user satisfaction survey carried out by the CFI Group. The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is one of the centers evaluated through the Web-based survey. Registered SEDAC users should receive an e-mail invitation from CFI Group requesting feedback on the quality and utility of SEDAC data products and services.
User feedback helps SEDAC address user needs and identify ways to improve and enhance the user experience in accessing and using SEDAC’s data, services, and Web site. The anonymous questionnaire takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, with optional comment fields provided. Users who are not currently registered but who would like to complete the survey should contact SEDAC User Services.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has established a new UN Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development to provide him with inputs on “an ambitious and achievable vision” for a future development agenda beyond 2015 to succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The group of 24 experts from civil society, private sector, academia, governments and international organizations is co-chaired by Prof. Enrico Giovannini of Italy and Robin Li of China. CIESIN director Robert Chen is one of the experts named to the advisory group. The group is expected to assess new opportunities to support and complement conventional statistical systems and strengthen accountability at the global, regional and national levels, and will advise on measures to close data gaps and strengthen national statistical capacities.
Two new publications by CIESIN scientists examine the use of satellite data in developing policy-relevant environmental indicators and the intersection of migration and environmental trends in North America in the context of global environmental change. CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin is lead author of the article, “Using Satellite Data to Develop Environmental Indicators,” co-authored with deputy director Marc Levy and geographic information specialist Malanding Jaiteh. The article in the August 2014 issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters presents the results of a pilot effort to develop satellite-derived indicators in three major issue areas: ambient air pollution, coastal eutrophication, and biomass burning.
A chapter on migration and environmental change in the United States and Canada, written by associate research scientist Susana Adamo and de Sherbinin, appears in the book, People on the Move in a Changing Climate, edited by Etienne Piguet and Frank Laczko. The chapter includes a historical review of past migrations related to environmental events, a description of regional climate change forecasts and current migrations trends, and an overview of recent research on population mobility and climate change events.
CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy participated in a workshop at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy, August 26–28 that brought together global change scientists and private sector leaders on the subject of risk and resilience. Discussions concentrated on a new initiative to seek corporate-level disclosure of 1-in-100-year risk. Participants evaluated the potential benefits of the proposed plan and discussed ways to promote its adoption and implementation. The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center′s mission is to promote innovation and identify impact-oriented solutions to critical global problems.
An international task team convened by the United Nations (UN) World Health Organization (WHO), UN HABITAT, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) met August 11–12 in College Park, Maryland, to continue discussions on how Earth observations (EO) and other novel data, as well as new data integration approaches, could contribute to the monitoring of future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to water. The WHO-HABITAT-UNEP task team is one of a number of UN efforts to develop strategies for post-2015 global monitoring of the planned SDGs, which are actively being considered by the international community. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a presentation on novel water-related data and indicators available from CIESIN, including current progress in preparing version four of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set and in developing transboundary water basin indicators as part of the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP). He also discussed lessons learned by CIESIN over the past decade in developing policy-relevant environmental performance and sustainability indicators. The team meeting was held at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Weather and Climate Prediction at the University of Maryland.
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.
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.
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