The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a voluntary international partnership of more than 100 national governments and 125 participating organizations, brought together both providers and users of Earth observation data at the European Space Agency in Frascati, Italy, May 2–4. The 3rd GEO Data Providers Workshop served as a venue to share knowledge and best practices in data management and use, in support of the ongoing development of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The workshop, which drew some 200 participants from more than 130 organizations and 33 countries, included three days of sessions and a two-day “hackathon” connecting data providers and users in the GEOSS Platform community. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications and deputy manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, gave a lightning talk on an international initiative to improve the quality and coordination of global-scale georeferenced data on human settlements, infrastructure, and population, known as the POPGRID data collective. He also gave the presentation, “GEOSS Data Management Principles: Importance and Implementation,″ co-authored with Gregory Giuliani of the University of Geneva and Joan Maso of CREAF, a research center in Barcelona, in a plenary session on the first day of the workshop.
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CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo and CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in two different scientific conferences, presenting recent work on the geospatial dimensions of population, infrastructure, and social vulnerability. At the annual meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) April 26–28 in Denver, Colorado, Adamo presented the paper, “Social Vulnerability in Shoreline Counties of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, 1990–2010,” co-authored with senior research associate Valentina Mara, senior research staff associates Olena Borkovska and Jane Mills, and CIESIN alumna Erin Doxsey-Whitfield of Fiera Biological Consulting in Canada. This work stemmed from a NASA-supported research project on the Vulnerability of the U.S. Atlantic Coast to Hazards Associated with Extreme Winter Storms (StormEVAAC). Adamo also presented the poster, “Global Spatial Distribution of Age and Sex Structures,” co-authored with geographic information specialist Linda Pistolesi, Geographic Information System (GIS) programmer Kytt MacManus, Mills and Borkovska, information specialist Maria Elisa Lukang, and associate director for Geospatial Applications Greg Yetman. The poster describes efforts to create a new global data set on Basic Demographic Characteristics as part of the Gridded Population of the World version 4.10 data collection, available via the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. The PAA is a nonprofit, scientific, professional organization established to better the human condition through research on issues related to human population.
The Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) at Harvard University, together with the Harvard Data Science Initiative and Esri, held its 2018 conference, “Illuminating Space and Time in Data Science,” April 26–27 in Cambridge, MA. Chen participated in a panel on the topic, “Geography, Civic Engagement, and the Future of Data Science,” giving a short presentation, “Why We Need Both Geography & Data Science to Achieve Sustainable Development.” He focused on the need for both geographic information scientists and data scientists to collaborate to address pressing sustainable development challenges, for example, in developing integrated spatio-temporal data and models of human settlements, infrastructure, and population dynamics. The CGA was established in 2005 to support research and teaching in all disciplines across Harvard University with emerging geospatial technologies.
At the Latin America and the Caribbean Scientific Data Management Workshop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 17–18, Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, presented a keynote address on trends in scientific data management, co-authored with Wim Hugo, Chief Data and Information Officer with the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). The workshop was convened by the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS) and hosted by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. It highlighted best practices for scientific data repositories located throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as well as initiatives that are either under way or in the process of being developed, their strengths and limitations, and new opportunities for collaboration. In addition, future trends and perspectives for scientific data systems, as well as criteria and standards for certification of data repositories, were discussed. Some 150 participants from throughout the region attended. Video recordings of the workshop presentations are available online via Facebook (de Sherbinin′s presentation begins at approximately 14:30 in the Day 1 Morning video). Following the workshop, de Sherbinin participated in the WDS Scientific Committee meeting April 19–20.
Representatives of the NASA earth science data system community, including data managers, system developers, and other staff from the NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) and Science Investigator-led Processing Systems (SIPs), gathered in Annapolis, Maryland April 18-20 for the annual Earth Science Data System Working Group (ESDSWG) meeting. ESDSWG teams reported on tasks completed during the past year, and new teams formed and planned tasks for the next year. Representing the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN were Robert Downs, senior digital archivist; Frank Pascuzzi, senior systems analyst; and John Scialdone, manager of Data Center Services. Downs co-authored a presentation on accomplishments of the ESDSWG on Data Quality over the past year, in his capacity as chair of its reuse readiness assessment subgroup,and presented the poster, “Reuse Readiness Assessment of Data Quality Software Solutions.” He also presented “Evaluating the Reuse Readiness Levels of Recommended Data Quality Software Solutions” during a breakout session on data quality. Scialdone participated in meetings of the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Standards Office, which he will be supporting as part of a two-year assignment.
As part of festivities worldwide celebrating Earth Day, CIESIN participated in a fair at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) in Sparkill, New York, April 17, co-hosted by STAC and Columbia University′s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The free event, held for the third year, was attended by both undergraduate and K-12 students and educators, together with members of the general public. Senior research staff assistant Alyssa Fico coordinated CIESIN’s participation in the event, with the assistance of geographic information specialist Linda Pistolesi, staff associate Emilie Schnarr, and CIESIN director Robert Chen. They demonstrated the Hazards Mapper and HazPop mobile app developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN. They also engaged attendees in an interactive data gathering exercise using online geographic information system (GIS) software to locate nearby areas of interest such as eateries, parks, and schools. The fair featured environmental science projects conducted by STAC students as well as a range of hands-on science education activities offered by other scientists from around the Lamont campus.
Geographers from across the U.S. and the world met in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 10–14 to present and discuss recent and ongoing research on diverse geographic topics, including hazards, urbanization, public engagement. Several sessions on human settlement and population mapping were organized, including two on high-resolution population modeling and a session on advancements in detecting and projecting population and the footprint of human settlements. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a presentation in the latter session on the ongoing efforts of the POPGRID Data Collective to advance the use and impact of geospatial settlement, infrastructure, and population data in sustainable development and other applications. Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, discussed mapping green infrastructure and impervious surfaces in New York City, in a session, “Making the City Green.″ His presentation was co-authored with John Squires, senior research staff assistant, and was based on work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of the project, Developing High Performance Green Infrastructure Systems to Sustain Coastal Cities, led by Patricia Culligan of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and the Urban Design Lab. POPGRID activities are supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN.
Current trends suggest that the already extensive populations of the Asian megadeltas, where more than 174 million people now live less than 7 meters above sea level, will continue to grow. A new study appearing in the journal Global and Planetary Change combines updated gridded population density data with data on “night-time lights″ measured from space and a digital elevation model to assess the spatial evolution of population and development on the nine Asian megadeltas. The invited research article, “Decades of Urban Growth and Development on the Asian Megadeltas,” is authored by Lamont Research Professor Christopher Small, together with Daniel Sousa, a graduate student with the Columbia University Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; CIESIN associate director Gregory Yetman and GIS programmer Kytt MacManus; and Christopher Elvidge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The gridded population data are from the fourth version of the Gridded Population of the World data collection developed by the NASA Socioeconomic and Data Applications center operated by CIESIN.
MacManus is also a co-author of “Palm Oil in Myanmar: A Spatiotemporal Analysis of the Effects of Industrial Framing on Biodiversity Loss,” which presents the results of a spatial analysis to determine areas in Myanmar best suited for oil palm tree growth. Findings suggest potential tension in the Tanintharyi region between suitability of oil palm trees and biodiversity protection. Kristopher Nicholas, a recent Columbia College graduate and an advisee of MacManus, was the lead author of the paper, which is published in the open access journal, Global Health: Science and Practice. MacManus serves as a lecturer at Columbia College and the School of International and Public Affairs.
The third round of intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Migration was held at United Nations headquarters in New York City April 3–6. In conjunction with the negotiations, the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) organized a briefing April 4 at the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to discuss migration in the context of disasters and climate change. Susana Adamo, CIESIN research scientist, and Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, spoke on data and knowledge gaps at the briefing. Other event speakers included Professor Walter Kaelin, Envoy of the Chair of the PDD, and representatives of Refugees International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organization for Migration. The PDD, which is currently chaired by Bangladesh, is following up on work begun by the Nansen Initiative to implement the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, endorsed by 109 governmental delegations during a Global Consultation in October 2015. The Global Compact for Migration will be the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement prepared under the auspices of the United Nations to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
CIESIN welcomes two new visitors, Koji Osumi and Rebeca de Bakker Doctors, this spring. Osumi, who is section chief in the Geographic Department, Geoinformation Processing Division at the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, is being hosted by the Geospatial Applications Division for one year. He will be collaborating with the associate director of the division, Greg Yetman, and with associate director of Science Applications, Alex de Sherbinin, on studies of spectral mixing analysis from satellite imagery and modeling of temporal change using vegetation indexes. Osumi has a BS and MA in earth science from Hokkaido University and has worked at both the Geospatial Information Authority and the Ministry of the Environment in Japan.
An Alliance Program intern from École Polytechnique, de Bakker Doctors is conducting research on the use of geospatial data for decision making in complex settings, supervised by deputy director Marc Levy. She will work with senior research associate Sandra Baptista and team members on the new Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) initiative. She is studying for an MS in the Challenges for Environmental Sciences program at École Polytechnique, and has a BSc in economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, participated in a National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) Pursuit event March 28–29 that focused on populations displaced by sea level rise and coastal extremes. The workshop was hosted by the University of Maryland in Annapolis and led by David Wrathall of Oregon State University and Valerie Mueller of Arizona State University. Twenty researchers from a variety of academic and government institutions in the United States and abroad were invited to participate. Funded by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, SESYNC facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations to develop data-driven solutions to socio-environmental issues.
Two new data sets have been released by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. The India Village-Level Geospatial Socio-Economic Data Set: 1991, 2001, provides detailed administrative boundary data for India (village/town-level) together with more than 200 socioeconomic variables from the 1991 and 2001 censuses. The data are available for the 28 states and combined Union Territories in existence in 1991 and 2001. The data set was developed as part of a research project on the dynamics and determinants of land change in India by Prasanth Meiyappan of the University of Illinois and colleagues from India and from Columbia University. This is the second data set in the India Data Collection, which also includes the data set, India Annual Winter Cropped Area, v1 (2001–2016).
SEDAC has also released a new data set on global patterns of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) over nearly two decades: the Global PM2.5 Grids from MODIS, MISR and SeaWiFS Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) with Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR), 1998–2016. The data set consists of estimated annual concentrations (micrograms per cubic meter) of PM2.5, with dust and sea salt removed, on a grid of 0.01 degree resolution, or about 1 km at the equator. This version supersedes a previous data set with coarser resolution (0.1 degree, or about 10 km) and data only through 2012. The new data set combines AOD measurements from the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), and the Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) with a chemical transport model. GWR is used to adjust estimates drawing on available ground-based measurements. The data set was developed by a team led by Aaron van Donkelaar at Dalhousie University in Canada.
Attendees at the workshop, “Linkages between Earth Observations and Ecosystem Services,” March 21‒22 in Palo Alto, California. CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo is third from left in the first standing row.
Potsdam and Berlin in Germany, Palo Alto in California, and Bristol in the United Kingdom were the venues for meetings of three different communities concerned with digital data for different applications. Robert Downs, CIESIN senior digital archivist, traveled to Potsdam March 18 for the FAIR Data Workshop organized by the American Geophysical Union and then to Berlin March 20 for a meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Technical Advisory Board and Chairs. He then participated in the 11th RDA Plenary March 21–23, where he gave presentations about the World Data System of the International Council for Science (ICSU-WDS), principles and practices for enabling open data use, and characterizing data quality. He also co-convened a session of the RDA interest group on Repository Platforms for Research Data, which he co-chairs.
CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo joined researchers from academia, government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector for a March 21–22 workshop in Palo Alto, “Linkages between Earth Observations and Ecosystem Services,” as part of the Natural Capital Symposium. This was the second workshop in a series of three exploring the use of Earth observations in ecosystem services research and applications, organized by the Institute on the Environment-University of Minnesota, Stanford Woods Institute-Stanford University, and the Gund Institute for Environment-The University of Vermont, and funded by NASA.
The emerging community of organizations and individuals involved in data for international development gathered in Bristol March 21–23 for the first Data for Development Festival organized by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). CIESIN director Robert Chen and deputy director Marc Levy both attended, giving presentations on two initiatives addressing foundational geospatial data needs for sustainable development. Chen described efforts to coordinate global-scale data on human settlements, infrastructure, and population through POPGRID, a project supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Levy participated in a special session on the new Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) initiative, supported by BMGF and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). GRID3 aims to build national capacity to collect, analyze, integrate, disseminate, and utilize high-resolution population, infrastructure, and other reference data in support of national sectoral development priorities, humanitarian efforts, public health, and sustainable development goals (SDGs). Chen remained in Bristol March 24–25 to co-chair a meeting of the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. CIESIN is an anchor partner of the GPSDD and coordinating partner of GRID3.
Several CIESIN staff members have contributed to a range of publications in prominent journals and books and to a major new World Bank report. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, is lead author of the chapter, “Geospatial Modeling and Mapping,” in the Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration. Edited by Robert McLeman of Wilfrid Laurier University and François Gemenne of the Hugo Observatory at the University of Liège, Belgium, the Handbook constitutes a major review of research on how environmental variability and change influence current and future global migration patterns and may trigger large-scale population movement. The chapter′s co-author is Ling Bai, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California.
The World Bank report, Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, was released March 19 through the Bank's Open Knowledge Repository. Alex de Sherbinin and research scientist Susana Adamo are among the co-authors of the report, which examines the potential impacts of climate change on population movement within countries in Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa in future decades. CIESIN coordinated the study with the Institute for Demographic Research at the City University of New York and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Kytt MacManus, CIESIN GIS programmer, is a co-author of the paper, “Flood Hazard Assessment from Storm Tides, Rain and Sea Level Rise for a Tidal River Estuary,” appearing in the journal, Natural Hazards. The research team led by Philip Orton of Stevens Institute of Technology found that areas along the Hudson River south of Poughkeepsie are dominated by storm surge-induced flooding, whereas areas north of Poughkeepsie to Albany are impacted more by precipitation-based flooding. The research included further development of the Hudson River Flood Impact Decision Support System, and was supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
MacManus also contributed to a second paper, “NASA’s Black Marble Nighttime Lights Product Suite,” published in the journal, Remote Sensing of Environment. A companion to the well-known “Blue Marble” image of the Earth, the Black Marble provides insight into distributions and changes in visible lights at night. The lead author of the paper, Miguel Román of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, is collaborating with CIESIN on two new projects funded by NASA in support of the Human Planet initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
The most recent update to the fourth version of the Gridded Population of the World data collection, GPW version 4.10, contains the first global data set on the spatial distribution of population broken down into different age groups by sex (male and female). The data were developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN.
Prior versions of GPW provided estimates of the total population in each latitude-longitude grid cell. Now with the inclusion of age and sex information drawn from the 2010 round of national population censuses, it is possible to map specific demographic subgroups such as elderly populations, school-aged children, young adults, and women of childbearing age. This enables users to better understand spatial variations in age structure and sex ratios within countries for specific regions of interest. The age and sex data expand GPW’s usefulness in many research and application areas, including vulnerability and risk mapping, urbanization and migration studies, and emergency response and public health applications. In addition, gridded age and sex data can help in monitoring and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with respect to efforts to disaggregate data to support the objective to “leave no one behind,” e.g., the elderly, the young, and other subgroups who may be geographically isolated.
The new downloadable data consist of population counts and density rasters for 5-year age groups and for selected age categories (0–14, 15–64, 65 and older), as totals and by sex. A raster data set of women of childbearing age (15–49) is also available. All of the GPWv4.10 raster data sets are now available in ASCII and netCDF formats as well as GeoTiff. Files with coarser resolution (2.5, 15, 30, and 60 arc minutes) may be selected to enable faster raster processing and compatibility with data sets from other scientific domains. A vector data set, “Administrative Unit Center Points,” has been updated to include age and sex attributes.
First developed in 1994, GPW provides population estimates on a latitude-longitude grid for all land on the planet except Antarctica, created through analysis of census and administrative boundary data from every country in the world. The gridded format permits easy integration with a wide range of data, supporting research, planning, and applications in energy and water management, disaster and humanitarian response, agriculture and food security planning, public health interventions, transportation and communications development, urban and coastal zone planning, and many other aspects of sustainable development.
The free, downloadable data and descriptions, including documentation and maps, are available at http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/collection/gpw-v4/whatsnewrev10. The data are disseminated using the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY-4.0) license, which permits free sharing, adaptation, and use of the data for both commercial and noncommercial purposes, so long as appropriate credit is given.
Participants in the launch of a new project, “Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3),″ at at a side event of the 49th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission held March 7 in New York City. Left to right: Roger Shulungu Runika, director general, Ministry of Planning, National Statistics Institute, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Rachel Snow, chief, UNFPA; Homere Ngoma Ngoma, census coordinator at the Central Bureau of the Census, National Statistics Institute, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Marc Levy, deputy director, CIESIN; Linus Bengtsson, executive director and co-founder, Flowminder; and Tapiwa Jhamba, technical advisor, UNFPA.
A new project, “Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3),” was launched at a side event of the 49th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission held March 7 in New York City. The side event featured a panel presentation on project objectives and applications by representatives of core GRID3 partners, including Marc Levy, CIESIN deputy director; Linus Bengtsson, executive director and co-founder of Flowminder; Rachel Snow, chief, Population and Development Branch, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and Tapiwa Jhamba, technical advisor, also of UNFPA. Joining the core partners as a panelist was Homere Ngoma Ngoma, census coordinator at the Central Bureau of the Census, National Statistics Institute, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who made a presentation on the 2019 DRC census and the potential impact of GRID3 involvement. Also attending were CIESIN senior research staff assistants Olena Borkovska and Kira Topik, and project coordinator Kevin Tschirhart. A lively question-and- answer session followed the presentations.
GRID3 is facilitating the collection, analysis, integration, dissemination, and utilization of high-resolution population, infrastructure, and other reference data in support of national sectoral development priorities, humanitarian efforts, health, and sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project aims to increase developing countries’ capabilities for mapping population distribution as a way of ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable, is counted, refining development priorities and extending and improving the scope and efficacy of countries’ development efforts. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom′s Department for International Development (DFID). Sandra Baptista, senior research associate, is a co-project investigator, with Marc Levy.
Heather Chamberlain of WorldPop and Flowminder visited CIESIN March 8 in Palisades, New York to give an informal talk on high-resolution population mapping in Afghanistan. Chamberlin is a geographer based at Southampton University in the UK working on humanitarian applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing. She discussed methods used to create population estimates for Afghanistan using statistical models, geographic correlates, and survey data. CIESIN is a partner with WorldPop and the University of Louisville on the project, “Global High Resolution Population Denominators,″ supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. WorldPop is also participating in the POPGRID initiative, which seeks to expand and coordinate the international community of data providers, users, and sponsors of georeferenced data on population, human settlements, and infrastructure.
A talk given by CIESIN director Robert Chen, “Who’s at Risk? Rapid Mapping of Potential Hazard Exposure,” has been released online by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of its inaugural PrepTalks series. PrepTalks seek to promote conversation and innovation on issues facing emergency managers through a video presentation, discussion guide, and other information resources. Chen’s presentation features a range of hazard mapping tools and data developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and other groups useful for assessing exposure and vulnerability to a variety of natural hazards. Eight PrepTalks were recorded at George Washington University in Washington DC in January 2018, including presentations by Dennis Mileti of the University of Colorado, Francis Ghesquiere of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and Amanda Ripley of the Emerson Collective.
Chen also presented “Mapping the Human Planet: Integrating Settlement, Infrastructure and Population Data to Leave No One Behind” in a panel on geospatial information for addressing inequalities and safeguarding public health, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO). The panel was part of the Statistical-Geospatial Integration Forum side event held March 5 in conjunction with the 49th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Marie Haldorson of Statistics Sweden, who co-chairs the Working Group on Geospatial Information of the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), moderated the panel, which also included Lisa Bersales of the Philippines Statistical Agency, Rifat Hossain of WHO, and Lawrence Friedl of NASA. The Forum was broadcast live on UN WebTV and is available on demand.
More than 40 experts on mapping of human settlements, infrastructure, and population from a range of organizations participated in the second “POPGRID″ working meeting, held at the Lamont campus February 28–March 1 and at the Population Council in New York City March 2. Organized by CIESIN with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Earth Institute, the meeting focused on the rapidly growing number and variety of georeferenced data products aimed at improving understanding of human settlement patterns, population distribution, and associated built infrastructure. New mapping approaches are being developed that take advantage of new sources of data such as radar, night-time lights, and high-resolution remote sensing. More information about these data and how they compare is needed to support not only scientific research, but also a variety of critical applications in sustainable development, disaster risk management and response, public health planning, and resource management.
Participants in the meeting came from organizations in both the United States and Europe, including the European Commission′s Joint Research Centre, the German Aerospace Center, the Group on Earth Observations, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Private companies such as Esri, Facebook, and Google were also represented. Increased collaboration among these groups, and between both producers and users of these data, will improve data quality and usability, reduce duplication, facilitate data access and sharing of resources, and improve the impact and effectiveness of the data for both research and applications.
A new POPGRID web site has been released that brings together information about the different data products currently available and that will serve as an access point for the growing number of tools that provide visualization and analysis tools for the different data sets. Three POPGRID scientific sessions were held at the fall American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans in December 2017, and several additional sessions are scheduled April 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, also in New Orleans.
CIESIN is leading or participating in several new projects aimed at improving integration of human settlement, population, and environmental data in sustainable development efforts. CIESIN director Robert Chen is the principal investigator for the three-year project, “Population and Infrastructure on Our Human Planet: Supporting Sustainable Development through Improved Spatial Data and Models for Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Population Distribution Based on Earth Observations.” The project team will work with national statistical offices and other agencies in several developing countries to better utilize population and related data in sustainable development monitoring and decision making. Partners include experts from the University of Louisville, ImageCat, Inc., NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Baruch College, and Yale University. Funding is being provided by the NASA Applied Sciences program, as part of its support of the Human Planet Initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
Senior research associate Xue Liu has also received NASA funding as part of a three-year effort to estimate total carbon in coastal and freshwater peatland forests. The project is led by Lola Fatoyinbo, research scientist with the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at GSFC, and includes collaborators from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Maryland, and the U.S. Forest Service.
Kytt MacManus, GIS programmer, is co-investigator of a third project, led by Miguel Román of GSFC, which is focusing on validation of global night-time environmental products, commonly known as night-time lights data. MacManus is leading the evaluation of daily night-time light data for developing near real-time population estimates as well as for improving existing population data products. The project will carry out validation activities in areas such as Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Bangladesh.
NASA has also funded the project, “Mapping the Missing Millions,” led by Jamon Van Den Hoek of Oregon State University. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, is a collaborator on the project, together with experts from DevSeed and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The project aims to improve mapping of approximately 250 million refugees, displaced persons, and other people living in informal settlements, using crowdsourced data, machine learning, and multi-sensor satellite imagery.
Waldo Tobler, world-renowned geographer and cartographer and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away February 20 at the age of eighty-eight. Among his many accomplishments, Tobler created the first global gridded population data set, working with colleagues, Uwe Deichmann, Jan Gottsegen, and Kelley Maloy. Tobler also formulated the so-called first law of geography: “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” He was an early pioneer in applying digital technologies and mathematical methods to geographic research and visualization, inventing new map projections, reallocation methods, and spatial analysis techniques.
In 1994, Tobler was a key participant in the Global Demography workshop held in Saginaw, Michigan, organized by the Science division of what was then the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network. CIESIN supported Tobler′s development of the initial version of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set, which was based on population and administrative boundary data for about 19,000 administrative units. CIESIN has continued to refine and improve GPW for more than two decades, recently releasing version 4.10 through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).
Tobler was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the O.M. Miller Cartographic Medal of the American Geographical Society (AGS), and winner of Esri's Lifetime Achievement in GIS Award, among other honors. For more information about Tobler's work and the planned memorial service, see his department′s Web site.
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