The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) has released two new data sets, the Global Urban Heat Island (UHI) Data Set, v1 (2013) and the Global Summer Land Surface Temperature (LST) Grids, v1 (2013). The UHI data set maps average summer day-time maximum and night-time minimum LSTs for urban areas, as well as the LST difference between urban areas and 10-kilometer buffers surrounding the urban areas. The latter represents a measure of the urban “heat island” effect, the temperature difference between urban and surrounding rural areas stemming from differences in land cover (e.g., buildings and asphalt versus trees and grass). The LST grids are derived from the Level-3 Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 5 global daytime and nighttime LST 8-day composite data (MYD11A2) from the NASA Aqua satellite. The UHI and LST data sets are useful for research and applications related to human health, weather extremes, and environmental change.
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Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications and deputy manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), presented the NASA Earthdata Webinar, “Remote Sensing-Derived Environmental Indicators for Decision Making,” November 21 and again on November 28. He summarized results from a NASA-funded pilot study to develop policy-relevant indicators from remote sensing data in three issues areas: ambient air pollution, coastal eutrophication, and biomass burning. The Webinar included description of indicator criteria relevant to policy and technical audiences as well as a review of the underlying satellite data and methodologies. Several SEDAC data sets derived from satellite data were also highlighted, including time series global grids of PM2.5 (particulate matter at 2.5 microns), a global urban heat island (UHI) data set, and a forthcoming time series global NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) grid. The Webinar, part of a NASA series, was repeated on November 28 due to the high level of interest, attracting at least 180 participants during the two sessions.
New high-resolution population data has been released, that will help us understand better how people are distributed in many countries throughout the world. The High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL) data set was developed by Facebook, CIESIN, and the World Bank as part of a larger effort by Facebook’s Connectivity Lab to develop technologies to connect people in rural areas to the Internet. First, state-of-the-art computer visioning techniques identified buildings from high-resolution commercial satellite images. The data was then combined with census data to generate population estimates, and the results were validated. Data are now available for five countries: Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, with data for additional countries expected in the coming months. To download the data, and for more information, go to http://ciesin.columbia.edu/data/hrsl/.
Join us for the NASA Earthdata Webinar, “Remote Sensing-Derived Environmental Indicators for Decision Making,” at 10 am US Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 28. Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, will present results of a NASA-funded pilot study to develop satellite-derived indicators in three issues areas: ambient air pollution, coastal eutrophication, and biomass burning. He will describe what makes an indicator that passes muster with policy and technical audiences, and discuss the underlying satellite data and methodologies. Several SEDAC data holdings that are derived from satellite data will also be presented, including time series global grids of PM2.5 (particulate matter at 2.5 microns); a global urban heat island (UHI) data set; and forthcoming time series global NO2 (nitrogen-dioxide) grid and global fire emissions indicators. To register and for more information about the Webinar, which is part of a NASA series, go to https://earthdata.nasa.gov/user-resources/webinars-and-tutorials/webinar-sedac-28-nov-2016.
Former CIESIN director Roberta Balstad (second from left) is recognized as an American Geographical Society Fellow at the third annual Geography 2050 Symposium, held November 17–18 at the Columbia University campus in New York City. She was one of two such honorees, with Barbara Ryan of the Group on Earth Observations. Credit: Brian Bischof
More than 300 participants from industry, government, academia, and nongovernmental organizations gathered at the Columbia University Morningside campus November 17–18 for the annual Geography 2050 Symposium, organized by the American Geographical Society (AGS) and hosted by the Earth Institute. The symposium focused on mapping the future geography of conservation and sustainability, with a mix of keynote talks and interactive panels. Speakers included Roger Sayre of the U.S. Geological Survey; Walter Scott, founder of Digital Globe; William Reilly, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Robert Cardillo and Susan Gordon, the director and deputy director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, respectively. CIESIN director Robert Chen moderated the plenary session, “What if People Mattered?″ highlighting the importance of mapping and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, “forgotten” populations on our planet. At the AGS Honors and Awards Ceremony, former CIESIN director Roberta Balstad was recognized as an AGS Fellow, together with Barbara Ryan of the Group on Earth Observations, acknowledging their significant contributions to the field of geography. In conjunction with the Symposium, 50 high school geography teachers who teach Advanced Placement human geography courses throughout the U.S. (and at an overseas military base) were selected as AGS Geography Teacher Fellows. They participated in a “mapathon” and other professional development activities and in the Symposium itself.
The Geography 2050 Symposium is a multi-year strategic dialogue addressing the vital trends reshaping the geography of our planet over the next several decades. Robert Chen is a member of the Symposium programme committee and a counselor of the AGS. The fourth Geography 2050 Symposium will focus on mobility and is scheduled for November 16–17, 2017 at Columbia.
Research scientist Susana Adamo participated November 14 in the workshop, “Web, Social Media, and Cellphone Data for Demographic Research,” a pre-event to the 8th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo2016) in Bellevue, Washington, November 14–17. She gave a presentation, “Incorporating Web, Social Media and Cellphone Data in Population Censuses: Possible Implications for Minimally-Modeled Population Surfaces,” co-authored with GIS programmer Kytt MacManus. The workshop sought to foster communication and exchange between population researchers and data scientists. The keynote speaker at the workshop was Andreas Gros from Facebook, with whom CIESIN has been collaborating in producing new high resolution population data.
In Paris, Gregory Yetman, associate director for geospatial applications, attended the 9th European Forum for Geography and Statistics (EFGS) November 15–17. He presented “Global Population Distribution: A Continuum of Modeling Methods,” also co-authored with MacManus, reviewing different methods for disaggregating census population to settlement locations, including statistical models, remote sensing techniques, and social media and mobile data. The EFGS is a voluntary group of national statistical and mapping organizations and other interested parties focused on best practices for producing geostatistics.
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center has recently released new versions of several different interactive mapping tools that provide users with new ways to visualize, analyze, and utilize geospatial data on population, environment, hazards, and related topics. These tools enable users to compare different data sets at local to global scales, to identify the number of people exposed to natural hazards or environmental extremes, and to utilize their mobile devices to assess their location relative to recent hazard events.
Version 2 of the SEDAC Map Viewer now implements an innovative four-window map view to make it easier to compare data layers from SEDAC’s diverse data holdings. Users may arrange the windows to show different maps for the same geographic region, focus in on different parts of the world for a single map layer, or illustrate changing spatial patterns over time. For example, a user could compare current population, land use, and urban expansion potential across Europe or Asia, visualize air quality levels in different urban areas around the world, or utilize the Anthropogenic Biomes data collection to visualize long-term land use change over three centuries, 1700–2000. The viewer supports toggling between the four windows and a more traditional single-window view, as well as direct links to download data for interest.
The SEDAC Population Estimation Service, which provides estimates of the number of people residing in an area of interest without having to download and analyze large amounts of spatial data, has been updated with data from the new Gridded Population of the World Version 4 (GPWv4) data set, including estimates for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. The SEDAC Population Estimator Web App enables users to draw a polygon or circle around an area of interest, and then calls on the Population Estimation Service to obtain an estimate of the population in 2015 living in that area. Those who develop their own mapping tools are free to access and utilize the Service through open international standards.
SEDAC′s mobile application for iOS devices, the Hazards and Population Mapper (HazPop), has also been updated with GPWv4 data. The app displays recent data on hazards such as earthquakes, tornados, and fires, and selected remote sensing imagery from NASA satellites, in conjunction with population and infrastructure data. It also supports location-based services such as estimating the total population near a user′s current location, a recent hazard event, or other point of interest or setting monitoring areas and proximity alerts. HazPop version 1.3 is available free of charge through the Itunes store.
Robert Downs, CIESIN senior digital archivist, traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, November 7–10 for the thirteenth plenary meeting of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a voluntary partnership of governments and organizations working to develop coordinated, comprehensive, and sustained earth observations and information. At the 1st GEO Data Providers workshop November 7, Downs contributed to several sessions, including a presentation on implementing the GEO data sharing and management principles. He served as chair and rapporteur for the session, “Implementing the Data Sharing & Management Principles: The case for certification of data repositories,” and presented “Digital Repository Certification Schema.” In the workshop's concluding session, “Discussion and Way Forward,” he reported on the discussion of data repository certification and labels. He also participated in a side event November 8 on the role of earth observations in supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The main plenary began November 9 with a surprise video greeting from Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station to the more than 400 participants representing 110 international delegations. Downs participated as a delegate from the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data System (WDS), a Participating Organization in GEO. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) is a regular member of ICSU-WDS and actively contributes to several different GEO initiatives.
Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, and Susana Adamo, research scientist, have been invited by the Government of Germany to serve on the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement. The Platform continues the work of the Nansen Initiative, supporting implementation of the 2015 recommendations of the Nansen Initiative Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change, known as the Protection Agenda. The Advisory Committee provides expert strategic input to the chair and the steering group of the Platform, and helps implement Platform activities. Adamo and de Sherbinin bring to bear longstanding expertise on environmental migration and displacement, particularly as related to climate change. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Platform is supported by the governments of France, Germany, and Switzerland and the MacArthur Foundation.
Ensuring that research data can be used interoperably to further science and societal applications requires clarity on data rights from both the data provider and data user perspectives. Unfortunately, legal rights regarding research data vary widely across national jurisdictions, scientific disciplines, and legal and scientific practice, creating uncertainty and complexity when users attempt to work with data from multiple sources and disciplines. To address this challenge, the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) formed a joint interest group on the Legal Interoperability of Research Data in 2013. This group has recently released the document, “Legal Interoperability of Research Data: Principles and Implementation Guidelines.” The principles and guidelines provide high-level guidance to all members of the research community—funders, data center managers, librarians, data archivists, scientific publishers, policymakers, university administrators, individual researchers, and their legal counsel—who are engaged in the access to and reuse of research data from diverse sources. CIESIN director Robert Chen serves as one of three co-chairs of the interest group and is a co-author of the new document. A process for endorsement of the principles is under development.
Several different CIESIN staff members contributed to two recent Web-enabled seminars. The Webinar, “Mapping SDG Data Needs to Maize Intensification Plans,” featured five commissioned papers that synthesized recent scientific research on connections between maize intensification and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on identifying possible actions within the SDG framework. Senior research associate Pinki Mondal was lead author of the paper, “Potential of Ecological Intensification of Maize in Sub-Saharan Africa for Achieving Nutrition Goals,” co-authored with Harpinder Sandhu of Flinders University, Cheryl Palm of the University of Florida, and Jessica Fanzo of Johns Hopkins University. The Webinar, which included two 90-minute sessions October 25–26, was organized collaboratively by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Earth Institute, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Bram Govaerts, associate global director of the CIMMYT Global Conservation Agricultural Program, moderated the Webinar, and CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy served as a discussant, highlighting how data support good decisions in multiple ways, and how high-value and low-cost data options often emerge. CIESIN program manager Minal Patel managed the project. Approximately 100 people attended, including CIMMYT staff in Mexico and eight other CIMMYT global hubs.
Senior digital archivist Robert Downs was one of several presenters in the 2016 GEOSS Interoperability Workshop organized by the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Standards and Interoperability Forum (SIF), under the auspices of the voluntary intergovernmental initiative, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). The four-hour online workshop, held October 20, focused on the GEOSS Common Infrastructure and the GEOSS Data Management Principles and related interoperability challenges. During the workshop Downs gave the presentation, “Introduction to GEOSS Data Management Principle 5: Data Traceability,” providing an overview of the state-of-the-art in ensuring that both data providers and users are able to document and understand the lineage of data and all transformations applied to data.
To improve understanding and management of the risks of disaster around the world, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium maintains the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), a widely used collection of data on more than 22,000 mass disasters from 1900 to the present. The biennial meeting of the CRED Technical Advisory Group was held October 24–25 in the National Press Building in Washington DC. CIESIN director Robert Chen joined more than 20 other experts from around the world to explore opportunities to improve the database and its integration with other resources to support both research and decision making. He gave a presentation on potential collaboration on exposure data, services, and tools available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and other CIESIN projects. Other participants included representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a key funder of EM-DAT, and from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, the World Bank, the World Meteorological Organization, and two reinsurance groups, Munich-Re and Swiss-Re.
Chen also participated in a meeting October 27 on enhancing disaster decision making with better data, hosted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). Managers and experts from a range of private and public utilities, state and federal agencies, industry groups, and academic organizations discussed data access and integration needs related to emergency response activities such as restoration of utilities and other services after Hurricane Matthew. SEDAC data and services were highlighted in the presentation by Erin Robinson, executive director of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), and during discussion. The meeting was organized by the EEI, ESIP, and other agencies and groups.
CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo recently attended several events in Brazil, including the VII Conference of the Latin American Population Association (ALAP) in Foz do Iguaçu October 17-21. There, she participated in a pre-event seminar on Migration, Climate Change and Sustainable Development in South America, organized by the International Organization for Migration and ALAP, and gave a presentation, “Migrant Households in Rural and Urban Areas: Understanding the Relationship between Climate Variability and Change, Livelihoods, and Migration Systems in South America.” She also participated in a roundtable, “Generating Information as a Basis for Developing Public Policies,” and delivered the seminar’s summary, conclusions, and recommendations. During the main ALAP conference, she participated in another roundtable session, “Vulnerabilities and Construction of Resilience: Global, Regional, and Local Aspects of Sustainable Development in Latin America.” Following the conference, she attended an October 24 seminar on Population, Public Policies, and Sustainable Development in Brasilia, where she spoke on the topic of population dynamics and construction of the environmental agenda. The seminar was organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the National School of Public Administration (ENAP) in Brazil.
A Global Dialogue, “Big Data and Sustainable Development,” was convened by the UN Foundation at United Nations headquarters in New York City October 19. The event, organized in partnership with Amazon Web Services, brought together senior corporate executives, UN leaders, diplomats, academics, and nongovernmental experts to discuss how new partnerships around big data can help advance the international sustainable development agenda. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the Dialogue, providing perspectives on government-industry-academic collaboration in developing integrated data on settlements, infrastructure, and population distribution.
Demand for hotspot maps will likely increase as decision makers seek to identify where impacts will be greatest and what adaptation measures, if any, are possible. This was one of the points of a presentation, “Mapping Climate Change Hot Spots,” given by research scientist Susana Adamo at the Workshop of the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement in Geneva October 13–14. The presentation, co-authored with Alex Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, was part of a plenary session, “New Research, Knowledge and Data Initiatives.” According to de Sherbinin, “Seemingly innocent and value neutral, maps could play an important role in framing societal responses to climate change and its impacts in ways that are surely not neutral.”
CIESIN’s latest mapping tools and services, research, and data focused on human interactions with the environment were on view to nearly 3,000 visitors at the 2016 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House, held October 8 at the Lamont campus in Palisades, New York. CIESIN staff members demonstrated two new mapping tools for Jamaica Bay: AdaptMap, which focuses on flooding and sea level rise; and the Jamaica Bay Water Quality Data Visualization and Access Tool, to be released later this fall. Many visitors also viewed and downloaded the HazPop mobile app (available for iOS devices), which supports visualization of population exposure to selected hazards. Kids were able to take a "Pop Quiz" testing their knowledge about world population and plot where they live on a map. CIESIN′s tent also featured a “story map” on the development of the Gridded Population of the World data set, a photo essay on CIESIN's work on vulnerability to climate change in Sierra Leone, and information about the award-winning Connected Worlds exhibit at the New York Hall of Science, which CIESIN helped to develop. The Open House, usually held every other year, draws students, teachers, researchers, and the general public from the greater New York metropolitan area to enjoy, explore, and learn about the wide range of scientific research and applications undertaken by Lamont-based scientists and centers.
New versions of several mapping tools developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center have been released and updated with data from the latest iteration of the Gridded Population of the World data collection (GPWv4), as well as enhanced with other features.
The SEDAC MAP Client in its second version now implements a 4-window map view to facilitate comparison of approximately 15 different interdisciplinary data layers from SEDAC’s data holdings. The spatial extent shown in the four windows may be synchronized, or the windows can show different areas of one or more layers. Users may also switch between a single window and the four-window layout.
The latest version of the Web-based Population Estimation Service, which enables mapping tools to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area of interest without having to download and analyze large amounts of spatial data, now uses GPWv4 data to provide population estimates and associate statistics for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. A new client application, the SEDAC Population Estimator, lets users draw a polygon or circle around an area of interest, and then obtain an estimate of the population in 2015 living in that area.
The mobile application, the Hazards and Population Mapper (HazPop), enables users to display recent data on hazards such as earthquakes and tornados in relationship to population, major infrastructure, and satellite imagery. A key feature of the app is the ability to obtain an estimate of the total population in proximity to the user′s current location or to a recent hazard event or other point of interest. Now, population estimation is based on the more up-to-date Gridded Population of the World, Version 4 (GPWv4) Population Count 2015 data set. In addition, the NASA Aqua only layer has been replaced by the NASA GIBS Aqua/Terra combined Aerosol Optical Depth layer. The HazPop mobile application is available through iTunes.
CIESIN staff participated in several recent NASA-sponsored workshops and meetings. On September 20-21, CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs attended the Global Hydrology Resource Center (GHRC) User Working Group technical interchange meeting in Huntsville, Alabama, to learn more about GHRC data, services, and data management practices. At the 3rd Satellite Soil Moisture Validation and Application Workshop in New York City September 21–22, remote sensing scientist Xue Liu presented the poster, “Multi-Sensor Satellite Soil Moisture Observations for Drought Assessment In Africa.″ Co-authored with deputy director Marc Levy, program coordinator Jen Mulvey, and Marcus Walsh of the Agriculture and Food Security Center, the poster illustrates the use of essential climate variable soil moisture (ECVSM) data to assess drought conditions across Africa. The work stems from CIESIN′s activities in support of the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the Lamont campus September 22, CIESIN director Robert Chen gave an overview of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), which he manages, at the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) science team meeting hosted by Marco Tedesco of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). The AMSR2 instrument is currently operating on the Global Change Observation Mission-Water (GCOM-W1) satellite of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and produces data valuable for monitoring precipitation, wind speed, snow and ice cover, soil moisture, and other environmental parameters. Near-real time AMSR data are available from the NASA Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE), and science-quality AMSR data are distributed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Representatives from JAXA, NSIDC, and GHRC (which supports the LANCE AMSR2 service) participated in the science team meeting.
On September 27-29, the Workshop to Develop a Portfolio of Low Latency Datasets for Time-Sensitive Applications was held at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Chen and Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, joined a diverse group of remote sensing data providers, managers, and users to assess needs and priorities for improving the timeliness and utility of near-real time remote sensing data to support both research and societal applications. Chen chaired a breakout group on the second day of the meeting.
The Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2015 (Volume 13) has published a special issue on “Demographic Differential Vulnerability to Climate-Related Disasters.” Edited by Raya Muttarak of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital and Leiwen Jiang of Shangai University and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, the special issue stems from a conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), “Demographic Differential Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Context of Climate Change Adaptation,” held in Kao Lak, Thailand in April 2014. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, and Guillem Bardy, project officer with the Agence Française de Développement, contributed the article, "Social vulnerability to floods in two coastal megacities: New York City and Mumbai." Bardy was a research intern at CIESIN in 2013 under the auspices of the Alliance Program, a joint venture between Columbia University and the École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. The Vienna Yearbook of Population Research is an online, open-access journal published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data launched its new Data4SDGs Digital Marketplace September 21 in conjunction with a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side event held at the Ford Foundation in New York City. As an Anchor Partner in the Global Partnership, CIESIN announced its data commitments through the new marketplace: 1) to maintain an active archive of global-scale spatial data containing high-quality, fully documented, standards-compliant, subnational data on key issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 2) to produce a "Living Manual" documenting proven and promising innovations that help countries to meet their SDG data needs; 3) to support a global community of practice to improve subnational data on population, settlements, and infrastructure for priority SDG applications; and 4) to provide open access tools and services for mapping and visualization of key sustainable development data layers and indicators to support applications, research, education, and training needs. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is also featured as a resource in the Digital Marketplace. CIESIN director Robert Chen and deputy director Marc Levy attended the launch event September 21, as well as related meetings of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in New York September 19–20. SDG data issues were also highlighted at the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD2016) held at Columbia University September 21–22. The 17 SDGs were adopted by the international community in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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