Population data and mapping was the topic of a webinar December 10 organized by the World-Wide Human Geography Data (WWHGD) Working Group, a global voluntary partnership focused on spatial data and mapping. Representatives of a range of organizations including the United Nations Population Division, the U.S. Census Bureau, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Esri, and CIESIN provided overviews of their population-related data, tools, and applications. CIESIN director Robert Chen was one of the six presenters, describing CIESIN′s population data activities since the late 1990s. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is currently developing the fourth version of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set, adding aditional demographic information such as age and sex structure to the estimate. Chen also touched on other relevant tools such as the SEDAC Population Estimation Service and the Terra Populus data access system under development by the Minnesota Population Center (MPC) in partnership with CIESIN.
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CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin and Pietro Ceccato, research scientist with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, attended the Second Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP) Applications Workshop in Huntsville, Alabama, November 18–20. Ceccato gave an oral presentation, “Using MODIS and VIIRS in Vector-Borne Disease Risk Characterization,” and de Sherbinin authored a poster on remote sensing and socioeconomic data integration. The workshop provided the earth science and applications communities with an update on instrument performance, data characteristics, and data access for the Suomi-NPP satellite. Launched in 2011, the satellite is named after Verner E. Suomi, a pioneer in satellite meteorology from the University of Wisconsin.
For the Second Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE2) held November 16 in New Orleans, CIESIN digital archivist Robert Downs presented the lightning talk, “Community Recommendations for Improving Sustainable Scientific Software Practices.” Co-authored with former CIESIN associate director Christopher Lenhardt, now with Renaissance Computing Institute; Erin Robinson of the Foundation for Earth Science; Ethan Davis of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; and Nicholas Weber of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the paper presented recommendations for improving community engagement, increasing awareness, and creating incentives for scientific software sustainability. The recommendations were subsequently discussed in a breakout session on Exploring Sustainability.
The Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held its 21st meeting in Yokohama, Japan, November 24–26. The TGICA coordinates data efforts across the three IPCC working groups and between the IPCC assessments, including oversight of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC). CIESIN director Robert Chen, who serves as an ex officio member of the TGICA and co-manager of the DDC, contributed to discussions on user needs and guidance materials. The task group meeting included a special session on data and scenarios for climate change research in Japan, with presentations by representatives from key Japanese ministries involved in the IPCC. CIESIN operates the DDC in collaboration with the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) and the Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ).
Representatives of a range of data archives and repositories from the natural, social, and health sciences and the humanities met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 20–21 to examine how to integrate repositories focused on particular scientific domains into the national data infrastructure. Organized and hosted by the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, the workshop also included participants from several national projects that are developing common scientific data infrastructure, including the Shared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE) and the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS). CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the meeting both as manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and as a member of the ICPSR Governing Council. The meeting was supported by the Sloan Foundation.
Former CIESIN scientist Deborah Balk of Baruch College, presents at "Geography 2050," held November 19 at Columbia University's Low Library. Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States, is seated to the right.
Columbia′s Low Library was the venue for a major symposium, “Geography 2050,” held November 19 and organized by the American Geographical Society (AGS) in collaboration with the Earth Institute, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), and the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). More than 200 participants from government, the geospatial industry, nongovernmental organizations, and academia gathered to consider key trends and surprises likely to shape the future of the U.S. and the planet. Speakers included Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute; Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States; former CIESIN scientist Deborah Balk of Baruch College; Robert Cardillo, new director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA); and Barbara Ryan, secretariat director of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). CIESIN director Robert Chen moderated a session, “Climate, Risk, and Opportunity,” and represented the Earth Institute in symposium planning and discussions. CIESIN′s 25 years of work applying geospatial technology and data to pressing interdisciplinary problems was given special recognition during the program and reception.
The symposium was sponsored by HumanGeo, Spatial Networks, MapStory Foundation, National Solar, and Boundless and represented the first event in a planned multi-year strategic dialog involving the AGS, the Earth Institute, and other partners.
More than 200 data experts from the natural, social, and health sciences gathered November 2–5 in New Delhi, India, for SciDataCon 2014, an international conference to examine data sharing and integration approaches in support of global sustainability initiatives. CIESIN director Robert Chen presented a paper on the evolution of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) over the past two decades in support of sustainability science and sustainable development. He also participated in panels on the sustainability of data archives and the need for international partnerships and collaboration. SciDataCon was organized by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the World Data System (WDS) of the International Council for Science, and hosted by the Indian National Science Academy. A forum for WDS members was held on November 2, and the CODATA General Assembly met November 6-7. Prof. Geoffrey Boulton of the Royal Society was elected as the new CODATA President. The CODATA Global Roads Data Development Task Group, led by CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin, was renewed for another two years.
As part of an end-of-project debrief for the African and Latin American Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC) project held October 30 at the headquarters of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington DC, CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin presented the Mali Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping exercise. The event, “Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and Food Security: Implications for Developing Climate-Resilient Agriculture Programs,” highlighted lessons learned from vulnerability assessments conducted under the three-year ARCC project led by Tetratech/ARD, on which CIESIN was a subcontractor. Panelists described methods and results on the one hand, and uptake by policy audiences on the other. CIESIN climate scientist Sylwia Trzaska also discussed results of the climate projections and downscaling work conducted for the project.
The NASA Applied Sciences Program has granted a three-year award to ImageCat, Inc. in collaboration with CIESIN, to utilize remote sensing data to improve estimates of building exposure to earthquake and related hazards. The project builds on a one-year feasibility study completed in early 2014 that demonstrated the potential value of medium-resolution remote sensing data in estimating building structural characteristics in urban areas that lack sufficient building data for risk assessment. ImageCat, an international risk management innovation company, is working with partners in the insurance industry to develop and test products for eventual commercialization. Ron Eguchi, ImageCat’s president and chief operating officer, is the project's principal investigator. CIESIN director Robert Chen is a co-investigator along with ImageCat executive vice president Charles Huyck and consultant David Tralli.
Leading researchers in the areas of urban, human settlement, and population mapping gathered at the First Global Human Settlement Workshop, hosted by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy, October 20–22. CIESIN programmer Kytt MacManus gave a presentation on a range of relevant population and urban settlement data products developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), and reported on progress developing version four of the Gridded Population of the World (GPWv4) data set. Lamont Research professor and SEDAC project scientist Christopher Small also participated in the workshop, giving a keynote talk on the spatio-temporal dynamics of human-modified landscapes, based on integrated analysis of remote sensing and gridded population data. The workshop aimed to foster community and facilitate collaboration between various individuals, agencies, and research institutions working to develop new settlement and population data resources.
MacManus subsequently travelled to Krakow, Poland, to attend the 7th Annual European Forum on Geography and Statistics (EFGS) October 22–24. The forum shared knowledge on integration of statistical and geographic data developed by many European and global groups. For a session on best practices, MacManus highlighted lessons learned in developing gridded population data sets.
The use of geographical methods and data in a wide range of applications such as disaster management, economic analysis, water quality assessment, food security, and urban and regional development was a major focus of the 37th Applied Geography Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, October 15–17. CIESIN geographic information specialist Erin Doxsey-Whitfield presented a paper on the fourth version of the Gridded Population of the World (GPWv4) data set, now in development. The paper, which will be published in the journal, Papers in Applied Geography, documents the incorporation of new census data and other enhancements in GPWv4. Developed and disseminated by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, previous versions of GPW have been widely used in both research and applications where understanding the spatial distribution of population is critical.
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center has released a new data set on the extent of mangrove forest cover, which is among the most productive and biologically important ecosystems in the world. Global Mangrove Forests Distribution, version one, indicates that mangrove forests around the year 2000 covered an estimated 137,760 square kilometers across 118 countries and territories worldwide. Mangroves are a unique type of tropical vegetation, appearing as groups of shrubs or trees as high as fifty feet and prospering in the distinct brackish habitats of coastal deltas. Their deep, extensive roots typically host a diversity of small marine organisms that require a hard surface and stable shelter as tides come and go. Mangroves help stabilize shorelines and can reduce the impact of natural hazards such as tsunamis and coastal storms.
The Global Mangrove Forests Distribution data set was derived from one thousand Landsat scenes acquired between 1997 and 2000. Mangrove areas were identified using digital image processing methods and labeled with the help of reference field data and high-resolution commercial satellite imagery. The data are provided at a spatial resolution of about 30 meters, and are organized for downloading as tiles covering 10 degrees latitude by 10 degrees longitude. The data are useful in ecosystem modeling, biodiversity research, land cover change analysis, global carbon accounting studies, coastal hazard assessments, and decision-making regarding human-environment interactions and future adaptive strategies.
The data set was developed by an international team led by Chandra Giri of the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation Science Center (EROS). Giri has previously worked at CIESIN and recently completed a 3-year term as a member of the SEDAC User Working Group.
CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs participated in the 2014 fall meeting of the SHared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE) in Crystal City, Virginia, October 13–14. SHARE is a higher education and research community initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research outputs, including publications and data. As a member of SHARE’s technical working group, Downs contributed to discussions about the planned SHARE Notification Service, the SHARE Registry, and the interoperability of open access repository networks around the world. SHARE is led by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
CIESIN senior research staff assistant Jane Mills helps visitors answer a population quiz, as part of the CIESIN exhibit at the 2014 Lamont Open House of their recent research and development activities. October 11, Palisades, New York.
Approximately 2,700 students, teachers, and other visitors from the greater New York metropolitan area and beyond braved cold and rainy weather to attend the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House 2014 on Saturday, October 11, at the Lamont campus of Columbia University in Palisades, New York. CIESIN’s tent focused on how maps and interactive map tools can be used to address both local and global problems and to educate students about interactions between people and the environment. More than a thousand microfiber cloths displaying a new global map of population distribution, based on the preliminary version four of the Gridded Population of the World data set, were distributed to visitors to commemorate the 25th anniversary of CIESIN’s establishment as a non-profit organization in November 1989. CIESIN relocated to the Lamont campus to become part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in 1998.
CIESIN geographic information specialist Malanding Jaiteh and senior research associate Sandra Baptista participated in back-to-back workshops on climate change vulnerability and adaptation in Bujumbura, Burundi, October 7–10. The workshops were organized by the Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research, and Economic Development (PREPARED) program funded by the US Agency for International Development East Africa Mission (USAID/East Africa). The Climate Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation Assessment (VIA) Stakeholders Inception Workshop, held October 7–9, convened experts from the East African Community (EAC) Partner States, representatives from regional institutions, and PREPARED Program partners. The workshop launched the PREPARED VIA process for the Lake Victoria Basin region. Jaiteh gave a presentation on CIESIN’s recent capacity-building training workshops on climate vulnerability mapping conducted in May and August in Nairobi, Kenya. Baptista summarized the results of the PREPARED Climate Information Users and Service Providers Survey. At the Climate Vulnerability Mapping Validation Meeting October 9–10, Jaiteh described the PREPARED climate vulnerability mapping methodology and guided participants in a participatory process to evaluate the preliminary regional climate vulnerability index results and country-level vulnerability maps.
CIESIN is pleased to announce the appointment of Greg Yetman as associate director for the Geospatial Applications Division, marking his return to CIESIN after three years with Esri Canada. Yetman takes over leadership of CIESIN′s team of geospatial data and information specialists and will play a key role in advancing CIESIN′s geospatial capabilities and infrastructure in support of research and applications.
Yetman originally joined CIESIN in February 1999. He holds a master′s degree in geography from McGill University and a certificate in application and software development from Columbia University.
Water as both resource and hazard affecting human security was the theme of a joint meeting of two working groups, the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) Working Group and the World Wide Human Geography Data (WWHGD) Working Group, held September 30–October 1 at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) campus in Springfield, Virginia. Keynote speakers included Ellen McCarthy, NGA chief operating officer; Monique Yates, director of the NGA Office of Geography; W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and Lee Schwartz, geographer of the United States. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a presentation on October 1 as part of a panel on water for humanitarian assistance and human security, highlighting key water-related data resources and research activities from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and other CIESIN projects. More than 300 participants from both governmental and nongovernmental organizations attended in person, with additional online participation from around the world.
Established in 2002, the HIFLD working group is a coalition of Federal, state, and local government organizations and supporting private industry partners that recently became a subcommittee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The WWHGD working group, established in 2011, is building voluntary partnerships around human geography data and mapping in support of human security data needs.
The United Nations Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development has launched a new Web site to solicit community inputs for its two-month effort to provide UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon with concrete recommendations on how to bring about a data revolution in sustainable development. The group held its first meeting September 25–26 in New York City, including a session with Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliassson at the UN Secretariat building September 25 and a “town hall” session at the Microsoft Technology Center in Times Square September 26. The group aims to complete its report by early November. CIESIN director Robert Chen is one of three expert members from U.S.-based institutions and is contributing expertise on geospatial data and technologies, interdisciplinary data integration, and cyberinfrastructure development.
CIESIN joined with several European organizations to organize and host a scientific workshop, “Spatial Indicators and Assessment of Vulnerability and Resilience,” at the University of Salzburg in Austria September 15–17. CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin, a member of the workshop’s extended scientific committee, presented a paper, “Availability and Appropriateness of Data for Vulnerability Mapping,” as well as a poster on vulnerability mapping methods that integrate remote sensing and socioeconomic data. The objective of the workshop was to document current approaches and develop recommendations about good practice for spatial vulnerability assessments to support decision making related to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
CIESIN staff flew to Fairbanks, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon, in early September for meetings concerned with data user needs and open geospatial technologies. In his role as user services manager for the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), information specialist Joe Schumacher participated in the NASA EOSDIS User Services Working Group (USWG) meeting at the Alaska Satellite Facility in Fairbanks September 9–11. The USWG coordinates efforts across the NASA earth science data centers to improve support for users. Among the meeting topics was the development of a common metadata repository and new search tools to enhance users’ ability to find data sets across NASA’s large and diverse data holdings. In Portland September 8–13, CIESIN geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff participated in the FOSS4G (Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial) Conference held by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). CIESIN utilizes open source geospatial software in many of its online tools and services.
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