The Socio-Ecological Synthesis Center (SESYNC) organized an innovative, international Boundary Spanning Symposium June 11–13 in Annapolis, Maryland. Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, gave an invited presentation, “Climate Change Hotspots Mapping and Migration as Adaptation,” and also discussed the use of data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) in socio-ecological research. He examined spatial vulnerability assessment and modeling of climate migration to demonstrate how spatial data integration across the social and environmental sciences can help illuminate ways in which socio-environmental systems are under stress from climate change. The data integration and modeling methods behind the World Bank report, “Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration,” released in February 2018, were also discussed. Hosted by SESYNC in partnership with the National Science Foundation, Resources for the Future, and the University of Maryland, the international symposium brought together leaders, emerging scholars, and others interesting in innovating research and processes for solving socio-environmental problems.
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Credit: Chandranath Basak
CIESIN senior research associate Pinki Mondal has been featured in a NASA Earthdata user profile published online May 24. The user profile is part of a regular series about users of NASA earth science data. Mondal combines remotely-sensed data with census and other data to study the effects of climate change on agricultural systems and communities. Her current research focuses on smallholder farms in tropical countries that can be especially vulnerable to climate variability and to impacts from socioeconomic factors such as urbanization and government policies. She utilizes microwave satellite data, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, and high-resolution optical satellite data from a variety of sources to help characterize land use/land cover changes over time in relationship to climate and other factors.
For the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, Mondal has had lead responsibility for establishing the India Data Collection, which currently consists of the India Village-Level Geospatial Socio-Economic Data Set:1991, 2001 and the India Annual Winter Cropped Area, v1 (2001–2016). She also led development of the Global Summer Land Surface Temperature (LS) Grids, v1, and helped develop the Global Urban Heat Island (UHI) Data Set, v1 (2013), as well as other SEDAC data sets.
In August, Mondal will begin a position as assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.
CIESIN staff and colleagues have capped the end of 2017 and launched 2018 with several new publications on a range of topics. Senior research associate Pinki Mondal is a lead author of a study on long-term changes in mangrove extent in Sierra Leone. The West African country lost 25% of its mangroves between 1990 and 2016, the span of the analysis. Using remote sensing data, the study focuses on four estuaries—Scarcies, Sierra Leone, Yawri Bay, and Sherbro—to provide insight into mangrove management strategies that can support local livelihoods. Sylwia Trzaska, associate research scientist, and Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, are co-authors. The work was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and conducted in collaboration with Tetra Tech. The paper appears in the journal Sensors, as part of a special issue, “Remote Sensing of Mangrove Ecosystems,” edited by Chandra Giri, an alumnus of CIESIN now with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Alex de Sherbinin is also co-author of a new global study of heat waves appearing in Environmental Research Letters, among the first research to include humidity as a critical factor in assessing heat stress impacts. The lead authors are Ethan Coffel and Radley Horton of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The study utilizes data available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN—Global Population Projection Grids Based on SSPs, v1 (2010 – 2100)—to quantify the number of people who may be exposed to extreme heat stress in the latter half of this century under different scenarios of development (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, or SSPs).
Senior digital archivist Robert Downs has three new publications on various data management topics. He authored the chapter, “Enabling the Reuse of Geospatial Information,” in the book, GeoValue: The Socioeconomic Value of Geospatial Information, edited by Jamie B. Kruse, Joep Crompvoets, and Francoise Pearlman and published in November 2017 by CRC Press. He is also a co-author, with Devan Ray Donaldson, Ingrid Dillo, and Sarah Ramdeen, of a peer-reviewed article in the International Journal of Digital Curation on the perceived value of acquiring “data seals of approval,” an international standard for trusted digital repositories. Finally, he has authored the conference paper, “Implementing the Group on Earth Observations Data Management Principles: Lessons from a Scientific Data Center,” in The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. This was based on his presentation at the 37th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment in Tshwane, South Africa in May 2017 about how the emerging set of data management principles developed by GEO applies to interdisciplinary data management at SEDAC.
In addition to sudden natural disasters such as hurricanes or flash floods, slow-moving climate change events such as drought can cause displacement and migration, explains CIESIN research scientist and demographer Susana Adamo in an interview for the radio show, “The Briefing Powered by Dartmouth,“ broadcast on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121. Speaking with the host, Mike Mastanduno, Dartmouth College dean of faculty and an expert in international relations, Adamo discusses current research and concerns about climate change and human migration. The program is airing Saturday, February 18, at 8 am EST with re-broadcasts February 19 at 6 am and 7 pm. “The Briefing” is a new weekly satellite radio show that aims to provide historical and factual perspectives on the week’s news. To hear an excerpt from Adamo’s interview, go here.
Announced at the World Economic Forum held January 25–29 in Davos, Switzerland, the 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) produced by CIESIN and Yale University’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP), in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy, identifies Switzerland as first in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges. Iraq is ranked last. The EPI has been produced every two years since 2006. The 2012 EPI ranks 132 countries, using 22 indicators in ten major policy categories including air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity, and forest management.
For the first time a complementary index showing country improvement from 2000 to 2010, the Pilot Trend Environmental Performance Index (Trend EPI), was released. Latvia was ranked number one in the Trend EPI, with Russia in last place. The U.S., which is 49th in the EPI, was just 77th in the Trend EPI, implying few recent gains in addressing environmental issues.
Data sets making up the EPI were contributed from the International Energy Agency, remote sensing research groups at Battelle and University of Maryland, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and other entities. Lack of data in certain areas—in particular, waste management, toxic exposures, agricultural sustainability and water resources—continue to limit the ability of the EPI to contribute towards the understanding necessary to develop policies for safeguarding the environment.
The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) has released a new data set, Effects of Climate Change on Global Food Production under SRES Emissions and Socio-Economic Scenarios. The data set was developed by scientists from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
Participants in the 16th TGICA meeting in Boulder, Colorado, August 4-6.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is undertaking its fifth assessment of the science, impacts, and policy implications of climate change. In support of this process, the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) held its 16th meeting August 4–6 in Boulder, Colorado, hosted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the meeting in his capacity as an ex officio member of the TGICA and co-manager of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC). Information scientist Xiaoshi Xing also attended as an observer. Issues addressed at the meeting included how best to meet the needs of the international assessment community for new socioeconomic scenarios, how to improve guidance materials provided by the TGICA, and how best to update and improve the DDC itself.
Established in 1996, the TGICA facilitates the distribution and application of climate change-related data and scenarios in support of the IPCC assessment process. The TGICA serves as the oversight body for the DDC, which is jointly operated by the British Atmospheric Data Center (BADC) in the United Kingdom, the World Data Center Climate (WDCC) in Germany, and CIESIN.
TerraViva! SEDAC Viewer is a map viewer and standalone software application that uses a powerful data-viewing engine and tools to enable the visualization and integration of hundreds of socioeconomic and environmental variables and layers, including a range of satellite-based data. A three-part tutorial that explains how to use TerraViva! is now available through the YouTube Web site. The tutorial was produced by senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin and senior media designer Al Pinto, under the auspices of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN.
CIESIN’s role in making climate change data freely available to the public is noted in an article in the NASA Earth Science Research Features 2009 volume of Sensing Our Planet. The article, “A Catalog of Change,” looks at an unprecedented database designed for use by international agencies and government leaders, as well as scientists, to further research and understanding of current and future global climate change impacts. A team of researchers, led by NASA scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, has compiled information on the effects of climate change into a comprehensive database of more than 600 studies on organisms and physical systems around the world. The development of the database—the Observed Climate Change Impacts Database—grew out of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report released in 2007. The data are freely available to the public through the IPCC Data Distribution Center, a joint service of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, the British Atmospheric Data Centre, and Germany’s High Performance Computing Centre for Climate and Earth System Research (Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum). Sensing Our Planet, published annually, is a collection of articles about how scientists use earth science data to learn about the planet.
A recent art exhibition in Paris made prominent use of data developed by CIESIN. The exhibition, Terre Natale: Ailleurs Commence Ici (Native Land: Stop Eject), by Raymond Depardon and Paul Virilio, was presented at Fondation/Cartier/ pour l’art contemporain from November 21, 2008 to March 15, 2009. As part of the exhibition, professor Laura Kurgan, director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, co-authored a collaborative design of video presentation that immersed viewers with images from a nearly-360 degree projection displayed throughout a circular room. The 30-minute video, which utilizes data from CIESIN’s Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data collection and Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP) available from the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), includes a moving globe that dynamically illustrates the economic, political, and environmental causes of global migration. “We translated the gridded population data from pixels into numbers and graphs and then animated it, overlaying many other kinds of data about migration such as displacement from floods, voluntary economic migration as seen through remittances, and refugee flows archived by UNHCR,” explained Kurgan. “The piece communicates to scientific, policy, and general audiences—and from children to NGOs—as a device for expressing complex ideas in simple ways.” The exhibition catalog, published by the museum, is available in both English and French.
The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2008 concluded that it is likely that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems. The database underlying this conclusion has now been made available through the IPCC Data Distribution Center (DDC), which is collaboratively operated by the British Atmospheric Data Centre in the United Kingdom, the Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ) in Germany, and CIESIN.
The Observed Climate Change Impacts Database was developed by an international team of scientists led by Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. The database collates information from a wide range of scientific studies that document significant environmental changes such as diminishing glaciers, melting permafrost, earlier snowmelt, lake and river warming, and coastal erosion as well as changes in biological systems such as earlier leaf unfolding and blooming dates and alterations in species interactions. Studies included in the database were based on observational data for at least 20 years between 1970 and 2004, and in some cases drew on more than 35 years of data. In a paper published in Nature in 2008, Dr. Rosenzweig and her colleagues demonstrated that the patterns of observed changes documented in the database and observed regional changes in temperature cannot be explained by natural variations alone. They therefore concluded that anthropogenic climate change is already having significant impacts on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.
The DDC was established in 1997 to support the data needs of the IPCC assessments. CIESIN began supporting the DDC in 2003 as part of its NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), focusing on socioeconomic data and scenarios needed for the integrated assessment of climate change impacts.
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