In recognition of the importance of open sharing of quality-assured scientific data to climate research and policy, a side event, “Trusted Data Services to Support Climate Change Research,″ is planned in conjunction with the upcoming international conference, Our Common Future Under Climate Change, July 7–10 in Paris. The event, organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS) in collaboration with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), Research Data Alliance (RDA), and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), has been granted a “COP21 label,″ highlighting its relevance to the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), to be held in Paris in late 2015. During the July 6 event CIESIN director Robert Chen, in his capacity as manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), will give a short talk on integrating environmental and socioeconomic data to support interdisciplinary research and applications. He will also present, “Developing Indicators to Support Climate Adaptation and Sustainability Decision Making,″ co-authored with Alex de Sherbinin and Marc Levy, in a parallel session, “Quality and Availability of Data for Global Sustainability″ to be held day two of the conference. The side event, together with a second side event organized by ICSU, “Science and the Road to Transformation: Opportunities in the post-2015 Global Climate Regime,″ is expected to support the development of science community inputs into COP21.
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A symposium on climate and human security was organized by the World-Wide Human Geography Data (WWHGD) Working Group June 3–4 at the University of Colorado, Boulder. CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy was part of a panel, “Anticipating Near-term Climate Disruptions on the Human Geography Scales.” In his presentation, “In Search of Usable Climate-Security Data,” he argued that the task of generating effective climate-security data requires as much attention to deepening social ties across the climate-security communities as it does attention to technical data work. The WWHGD working group was created to focus on the need for human geography global foundation data in order to provide a basis for a deeper understanding of cultures, activities, and attitudes.
CIESIN staff joined OpenStreetMap (OSM) mapping enthusiasts at the annual State of the Map US 2015 conference in New York City June 6–7. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, and Paola Kim-Blanco, senior research associate, presented a lightning talk, “Validation and Assimilation of OSM Data for the Global Roads Open Access Data Set.” With geographic information specialist Linda Pistolesi, they also organized a breakout group on validation and assimilation of OSM roads data. Geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff also participated in the conference. OSM has had impressive growth in coverage and detail in the past decade, and is increasingly being seen as an authoritative data source. However, OSM still lags in some developing regions, and efforts to rectify this situation are being made through groups such as Missing Maps and Map Give. CIESIN's efforts, under the CODATA Global Roads Data Development Task Group with support from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), represent an important joint effort with OSM to evaluate the geometry, coverage, and completeness of the OSM roads data in the world′s poorest regions.
CIESIN geospatial specialist Erin Doxsey-Whitfield and senior digital archivist Robert Downs were among the social science data managers, data librarians, and other experts participating in the 41st annual conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST) June 2-5 in Minneapolis. On June 3, Downs presented, “Bridging Disciplines: Assessing the Interdisciplinary Impact of Open Data,” co-authored with Robert Chen, director of CIESIN. While in Minneapolis, Doxey-Whitfield visited the Minnesota Population Center (MPC) at the University of Minnesota to work on the Terra Populus project. MPC was a host of the conference, of which CIESIN was a gold sponsor.
A workshop sponsored by the European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre May 27–29 in Ispra, Italy, convened more than 50 experts and planners from European and other international agency and academic organizations to discuss how new mapping tools and data can inform the design of spatial planning and promote best practices across the urban/rural spectrum. Greg Yetman, CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications, gave a presentation on the evolution of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data collection available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). The newest version of GPW, due to be released later this year, integrates data from more than 14 million census units to create global surfaces of population counts and other variables at five-year intervals between 2000 and 2020, including estimated age and sex distributions.
CIESIN scientists recently participated in several meetings focused on regional environmental issues in the Western Hemisphere. Deputy director Marc Levy co-chaired both the North America Regional Environmental Information Network (REIN) Conference May 27-28 and the first Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) Regional Authors' Meeting May 29 in Gatineau, Quebec. The two gatherings kicked off the North American Regional Assessment of the 6th Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). During the REIN Conference, government officials from the United States and Canada, along with scientific experts, agreed on priority environmental issues to inform the regional assessment. At the Authors′ Meeting, participants considered key themes to explore in the regional assessment, the structure of the report, and assignment of roles. Levy and Robert W. Correll are co-chairing the regional assessment, which is scheduled for release in spring 2016.
The annual meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) was held May 20–22 in Quito, Equador. CIESIN associate research scientist Susana Adamo gave a presentation on recent scientific developments in demography and population-environment studies relevant to the IAI’s collaborative resource networks and small grant programs. The SAC meeting included discussions with the Minister of the Environment and local university representatives on biodiversity issues. IAI is an intergovernmental organization supported by 19 countries in the Americas, whose mission is to increase understanding of global changes and their socioeconomic implications. The SAC agreed to hold its next meeting in spring 2016 in New York City.
Urban climate resilience—in particular, the case of New York City in the post-Superstorm Sandy period—was the subject of a presentation by Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for science applications, to a delegation from Électricité de France (EDF) on May 22 at the School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. His presentation reviewed major urban risks associated with climate change, including heat stress, flooding, and sea level rise, and highlighted a range of resilience and adaptation strategies being undertaken in New York City. The delegation included recipients of EDF Pulse Awards, which support innovation in the energy sector.
The User Working Group (UWG) of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN met May 18–19 to review SEDAC activities and plans and to provide guidance on strategic directions and user needs. Key discussion topics included SEDAC′s evolving role in addressing data needs stemming from international negotiations regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the potential value of developing “virtual collections” of remote sensing and socioeconomic data in collaboration with other NASA data centers. The meeting included a presentation on the NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission by outgoing UWG member Kyle McDonald of the City University of New York (CUNY), who also hosted the second day of the meeting at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center in Manhattan. Daniel Bader of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) also presented on New York City′s resilience to climate change. The UWG meeting was chaired by Myron Gutmann of the University of Colorado and included representatives from NASA headquarters and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Expert Meeting on Scenarios, which took place May 18–20 at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria. Participants took stock of the use of climate and socioeconomic scenarios in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and recommended actions to improve their use in the Sixth Assessment. Levy gave a presentation on the second day of the meeting, proposing how governance indicators could be incorporated into climate scenarios. He also participated in a working group meeting May 21 on quantitative impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability indicators, organized by the International Committee on New Integrated Climate Change Scenarios (ICONICS). The meeting reviewed recent work on quantitative scenarios of poverty rates and income distribution.
A new data release offers insights into the extent of global human exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) over more than a decade. The new data set replaces an earlier one released by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN and features improved accuracy, a longer time span, and higher spatial resolution than the previous version.
Satellite-derived estimates of PM2.5 provide one of the few ways of assessing changes in exposure to air pollution around the world over the long term. The data set consists of a series of global grids representing three-year running averages, from 1998-2012, derived from measurements of Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) from three different NASA instruments: MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer), and SeaWIFS (Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor). The grids were developed by Aaron van Donkelaar and colleagues at Dalhousie University in Canada.
These global grids of estimated PM2.5 surface concentrations, expressed in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3), are useful for health and environmental research and have already served as a valuable input to the World Health Organization (WHO) global burden of disease study. Fine-particulate matter represents one of the most serious types of air pollutants and is of particular concern in many parts of Asia. For example, the estimated proportion of the people in East Asia living above the WHO Interim Target-1 of 35 μg/m3 increased from 51% in 1998–2000 to 70% in 2010–2012.
The raster grids have a grid cell resolution of 6 arc-minutes (0.1 degree, or approximately 10 km at the equator) and cover the global land surface from 70 degrees north to 55 degrees south. More details can be found in the van Donkelaar et al. 2015 article, “Use of Satellite Observations for Long-Term Exposure Assessment of Global Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter,” in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
In a recent visit to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy gave a presentation to the ORNL Environmental Sciences Division on data and monitoring needs for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are currently under negotiation by governments as part of the post-2015 development agenda; after they have been adopted, the international community will face an even larger gap between monitoring needs and available capabilities. A global data partnership and an expert consultation are needed.
While at ORNL, Levy participated as an observer in a meeting of the user working group (UWG) of the ORNL Distributed Active Archive Center (ORNL DAAC) May 13–14, in his capacity as the lead project scientist for the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. Like SEDAC, the ORNL DAAC is part of NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS); its focus is on biogeochemical and ecological data and models.
More than 100 representatives of member states and participating organizations of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) met May 4–7 in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss and further develop a new strategy and work program for the next phase of the voluntary intergovernmental organization. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the meeting in his capacity as a co-chair of the GEO Data Sharing Working Group, which oversees the evolution and implementation of the data sharing principles for the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). Established in 2005, GEO has successfully implemented GEOSS as an operational network that links remote sensing and other geospatial data from around the world and makes them accessible for both research and decision making. Over the next decade, GEO plans to incorporate rapidly growing volumes of data from increasingly diverse sources and ensure their regular use in many different public and private sector applications. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is a unique element of GEOSS, providing key socioeconomic data and services that facilitate such real-world applications. SEDAC is currently contributing to phase 8 of the Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP-8), which is testing new apps and tools for energy and disaster management applications.
Links between climate stress and political violence were the subject of a talk by CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy at an interdisciplinary workshop organized by the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate May 6 at Columbia University′s Morningside campus in New York City. Levy was one of 15 speakers from Columbia on topics such as hurricanes and droughts, disease transmission, and energy resilience. His presentation, “Extremes and Extremism: Why Climate Stress Increases Political Violence,” looked at how climate stress can trigger political instability and violence across linked systems and how efforts to manage risk may lead to more instability. He also discussed why some people persist in denying climate-security connections. A video of a longer version of the lecture, given at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver earlier this year, is now available online.
Marc Levy, CIESIN deputy director, has agreed to serve as one of two co-chairs of the North American Regional Assessment for the sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) being developed by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). GEO-6 will use a regional assessment approach to create a comprehensive picture of the environmental factors contributing to human well-being and to analyze policy options for achieving environmental objectives and goals. Together with co-chair Robert Corell, Levy will help coordinate the work of more than 40 experts on the North American assessment.
A wide range of visitors met with CIESIN staff in April. At the Columbia University Morningside campus April 13, associate directors Alex de Sherbinin and Greg Yetman and deputy director Marc Levy hosted Willie Schubert, program officer with the Earth Journalism Network (EJN). They discussed various resources useful for journalists, including Web technologies, data layers, and map tools available from CIESIN and the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). On April 20, CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in a visit by Joreg Mayer-Ries from the German Ministry of the Environment, organized by the Earth Institute. The meeting included discussions about sustainability policy and science in Germany and the United States and in context of the post-2015 development agenda. Both Mayer-Ries and Chen subsequently participated in the conference, "Measuring Sustainable Development: How Can Science Contribute to Realizing the SDGs?" at German House in New York City April 23–24.
Umar Serajuddin, Emi Suzuki, and Dereje Ketema Wolde from the Development Data Group (DDG) of the World Bank visited CIESIN at the Lamont campus April 22–23 to explore collaborative activities and access population data resources from the NASA SEDAC. Suzuki gave an informal presentation April 22 on some of the DDG′s current activities on subnational data development, poverty mapping, and sustainability indicators.
Two recent visits were arranged by the Alliance Program, the academic joint-venture between Columbia and three French institutions, the École Polytechnique (EP), Sciences Po, and Panthéon-Sorbonne University. Chen, Yetman, information scientist Xiaoshi Xing, and program manager Alex Fischer met with Mathieu Le Traon, EP vice president for international relations, and two colleagues April 24 on the Morningside campus. CIESIN has hosted interns from EP for more than six years. On April 28, CIESIN hosted a delegation of five experts from the EDF group in France, led by Bernard Salha, senior executive vice president and head of EDF Research and Development, to discuss areas of potential collaboration, especially those related to urban adaptation and mitigation in response to climate change.
CIESIN also gave a briefing April 28 for several students and two faculty members from the Global Health certificate program of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia′s Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH). And on April 30, CIESIN geospatial information specialist Malanding Jaiteh hosted a visit by Lucy Waruingi, executive director of the African Conservation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the availability and application of biodiversity data and information.
For a workshop on implementing the sustainable development goals at Arizona State University in Tempe April 24–25, CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy gave presentations on lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals experience and on the state of knowledge regarding how best to promote holistic governance. The workshop was sponsored by the Center for Law and Global Affairs at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and convened by professors Kenneth Abbott and Daniel Bodansky.
Due to scheduled network maintenance by NASA on Sunday, April 26, some elements of the SEDAC Web site may experience service interruptions between 1 pm and 7 pm US Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), with additional brief interruptions until 1 am EDT April 27. The maintenance work may affect access to the EarthData links at the top of the SEDAC Web pages, as well as the EarthData login service. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this NASA-wide network maintenance.
Representing CIESIN, Robert Downs, senior digital archivist, participated in the Big Data Regional Innovations Hubs Charrette for the Northeast region held in Boston April 17. The charrette—an intensive, one-day design and planning workshop—is one of four sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) around the United States. The Northeast charrette convened members of the data science research community and other stakeholders to initiate a regional consortium to develop a data innovation hub in the region. Columbia's Data Science Institute is playing a lead role in the initiative.
At the Nansen Initiative consultative committee meeting in Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland, April 16–17, Alex de Sherbinin, associate director of the CIESIN Science Applications Division, served as a member of the consultative committee, and associate research scientist Susana Adamo participated as an invited expert in the Central American regional consultation. The Nansen Initiative is an inter-governmental process that seeks to develop policy frameworks to protect displaced persons from disasters, recognizing that displacement from climate-related disasters is likely to grow in the future.
Earlier in the month, Adamo attended the expert group meeting, “Implications for the Global Research Agenda on Population and Development,” organized by the U.N. Population Division in New York April 10. The meeting, which featured a keynote speech by Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs, discussed global research priorities on population and development over the next 15 years. Adamo participated in breakout groups on age structure and impacts on youth, age structure and impacts on aging, and sustainable urbanization. The meeting sought to identify key knowledge gaps, recommended next steps, and ways to implement research priorities.
A major new report, “Data for Development: A Needs Assessment for SDG Monitoring and Statistical Capacity,” was launched at the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC, April 17. The report, jointly authored by staff from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Open Data Watch, CIESIN, the Paris21 Secretariat, Simon Fraser University, The World Bank, and UNESCO, is intended to advance discussions on the importance of strong statistical systems and monitoring capacity in implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the potential to mobilize the “data revolution” in support of sustainable development, and the need to clearly identify resource needs, areas of investment, and modernization approaches in formulating the post-2015 development agenda. CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy and program manager Alex Fischer participated in the launch event, representing the CIESIN team that contributed to the report on the topic of geospatial and environmental data collection and SDG indicator development.
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