The 2021 winter meeting of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), held online January 26–29, addressed the theme, “leading innovation in earth science data frontiers.″ CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs co-chaired the January 28 session, “Toward Improving Representation of Data Quality Information,” and gave the presentation, “International Collaboration on Data Quality” during the session. During the Research Showcase on January 27, he presented the poster, “Adopting the TRUST Principles for Digital Repositories with the GEOSS Data Management Principles and the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles.” Downs also presented the ESIP Martha Maiden Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Earth Science Information Community to Hampapuram Ramapriyan, research scientist at Science Systems and Applications, Inc., who has made significant contributions to data management and stewardship at NASA and in national and international networks over multiple decades. Robert Chen, CIESIN director and manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), also participated in the meeting, which included diverse sessions on such topics as managing model-related data, air quality data user needs, development of analysis-ready data, implementation of Google′s data search tool, and use of data during response to California wild fires. SEDAC has been a Type 1 ESIP partner since 1999.
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New publications from CIESIN include an article authored by senior digital archivist Robert Downs and the latest newsletter in a series by the Geo-referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) program. The paper by Downs, ″Improving Opportunities for New Value of Open Data: Assessing and Certifying Research Data Repositories,″ was published in the Data Science Journal. It describes how meeting data repository certification standards, such as CoreTrustSeal, contributes to new value that can be attained for society through the use of open data products and services. The GRID3 newsletter features progress in the organization's partnership with Nigeria, including management of the data and portal and population data modelling to support the COVID-19 response there; use of GRID3 data to help the government of Liberia save more than one million dollars in its recent purchase of high-resolution satellite imagery; and in-country training to increase geospatial capacity in African countries.
2020 Human Planet Atlas Showcases Diverse Applications of Global Human Settlement and Population DataJanuary 22, 2021
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has released the 2020 edition of the Atlas of the Human Planet, focused on open geoinformation for research, policy, and action, under the auspices of the Human Planet Initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). This year′s Atlas features more than 30 applications of the georeferenced human settlement and population data in four thematic areas: disaster risk management, urbanization, development, and environment and sustainability. Two of the applications showcased were developed by CIESIN: the Global COVID-19 Viewer operated by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), in “Mapping the COVID-19 Pandemic and Potential Risk Factors,″ and a summary of an update to a 2007 data set available from SEDAC, in “New Estimates of Global Population and Land in the Low Elevation Coastal Zone Using GHSL-based Data Sets.″ The first showcase was prepared by CIESIN director Robert Chen, GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, and associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin. The second was authored by MacManus, former SEDAC project scientist Deborah Balk of Baruch College, staff associate Hasim Engin, UK demographer Gordon McGranahan, former research staff assistant Rya Inman, and intern Alexandra Hayes.
The JRC organized a virtual launch event January 21 that drew more than 90 participants. The event included 4 short presentations on selected applications, including the Global COVID-19 Viewer example, described by Chen. The Viewer, developed and enhanced in 2020, helps users visualize a range of data on COVID-19 cases and mortality in relationship to spatial data on demographic and environmental factors that may affect exposure and vulnerability, such as age structure, degree of urbanization, air quality, and elevation. Chen and Martino Pesaresi of the JRC are co-leaders of the GEO Human Planet Initiative.
CIESIN senior geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff was an invited rapporteur for select sessions of the OGC Location Powers Urban Digital Twins virtual summit held January 12–14. The focus of the conference was how “digital twins” at the urban scale use location and geospatial technology to transform how cities are planned, built, and managed to better deliver services in order to create more livable, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban environments. Mendeloff represented both OGC members CIESIN and the NYC Geographic Information System and Mapping Organization (GISMO), where she is a member of the Board of Directors. In consideration of the international audience of the virtual summit, the OGC aimed to make presentations available in both east and west time zones and to build on each other, so she also presented her summary report of the 1W session to sessions 1E and 2W. Her report will be included in a final document that summarizes discussion on the status of Digital Twins and recommends future technology innovations, best practices, and standards development. The OGC is the Open Geospatial Consortium, an international organization committed to improving access to geospatial and location information, including the development of free, publicly available geospatial standards that enable new technologies.
On January 21, Mendeloff reprised her role as an instructor for the Earth Institute (EI) Live K–12 science education video series, when she offered a session aimed at grades 9–12, “Climate Data—The Numbers Behind the Numbers.” The 45-minute video, available on the EI Live channel, explains the data science tools used in climate research by scientists to understand geographic data, perform spatial analysis, and visualize data while communicating a story.
Associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin gave a talk December 18 on the intersection of climate change impacts and migration to the Uncommon Schools, a network of charter schools serving minority students in New York City. Earlier in the month, he also served on a panel, “In Crowding Climate Danger Zones, Seeking Paths to Managed Retreat,” held December 16 as part of the Sustain What? Webcast series. The panel, moderated by journalist Andrew Revkin, founding director of the Earth Institute's Initiative on Communication and Sustainability, also included colleagues Lisa Dale and Radley Horton, who with de Sherbinin are on the organizing committee for an upcoming 2021 conference on managed retreat.
Senior digital archivist Robert Downs recently posted a blog entry for the World Data System (WDS) of the International Science Council (ISC) on data citation practices. The December 15 post summarizes an opinion piece published November 16 in EOS, with lead author Suresh Vannan and co-authors Walt Meier, Bruce Wilson, and Irina Gerasimov. The article argues that concerted efforts by the research community are needed to expand appropriate citation of data sets, in order to improve the provenance and reproducibility of research and thereby its credibility and value.
In another WDS blog post, released December 4, de Sherbinin discusses current data practices in citizen science, based on an article co-authored with lead author Anne Bowser of the Wilson Center that was recently published in the journal Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. Improving data management practices in citizen science is critical to ensuring that these efforts produce useful data for scientific research or policy applications. The article was an output of a joint Task Group on the Validation, Curation, and Management of Citizen Science and Crowdsourced Data established by the ISC Committee on Data (CODATA) and the WDS, which de Sherbinin co-chaired. He is also the current chair of the WDS Scientific Committee and a co-chair of a new CODATA-WDS Task Group, “Citizen Science for the SDGs.”
An online version of the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting brought together nearly 29,000 scientists and other experts for more than two weeks of online presentations, sessions, and exhibits December 1–17. CIESIN experts organized or co-chaired seven sessions and presented or co-authored twelve invited, oral, e-lightning, and poster papers, on a range of topics in multiple AGU tracks, including Global Change, Natural Hazards, Earth and Space Science Informatics, and Science and Society. Oral sessions included pre-recorded video talks of up to 15 minutes, combined with a one-hour live session with five-minute summaries and a moderated discussion. E-lightning sessions combined an online, interactive “iposter” with a one-hour live session with three-minute summaries and a discussion period. Posters consisted of an iposter made available for 24 hours within a designated visit period. This unique format enabled participation by scientists all over the world, albeit often at unusual hours of the day or night depending on time zones.
Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, presented an e-lightning paper on the Global COVID-19 Viewer, a mapping tool for data related to the coronovirus pandemic developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Senior digital archivist Robert Downs gave two different e-lightning talks: “A Data Lifecycle Approach to Enabling Use by Capturing Data Provenance and Attribution” and “Advancing Open Data Sharing Across the Earth, Social, and Health Sciences for Pressing Societal Challenges.” CIESIN director Robert Chen presented the e-lightning paper, “Why People Matter: Better Data on Population and Infrastructure to Assess SDG Progress.”
Cascade Tuholske, an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow hosted by CIESIN, gave an oral paper, “Global Urban Population Exposure to Extreme Heat,” and an e-lightning presentation, “A Comparison of Gridded Population Data Products in Disaster Response.” Another CIESIN postdoctoral research scientist, Carolynne Hultquist, gave an oral presentation, “Developing Flood Risk Maps for Multi-Level Humanitarian Decision Making.”
Many CIESIN staff members were also co-authors on numerous papers given by colleagues from the Earth Institute or external partners such as the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ), ImageCat Inc., ISciences LLC, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Chen, de Sherbinin, and Downs also convened and/or co-chaired multiple sessions on topics such as environmental intelligence, remote sensing applications in disaster management, trustworthy digital repositories, and open data sharing. Although the AGU′s online format limited the extent of informal networking and scientific discussion normally possible with an in-person conference, it did seem to allow wider participation from those who might otherwise not be able to attend, and generated a valuable set of prerecorded presentations and online posters that can be made available to a wider audience.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many international conferences have shifted to online, virtual platforms in 2020, opening up opportunities for CIESIN staff to interact remotely with new communities and showcase recent work and new resources. For example, associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin recently gave a remote keynote address, “Groundswell Model Results for South Asia,” November 25 at the International Conference on Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies, organized by Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. The address discussed ongoing work with the World Bank to model how climate impacts may induce migration out to 2050. He and research scientist Susana Adamo also participated in the virtual meeting of the Platform for Disaster Displacement’s Data and Knowledge Working Group November 24, where they gave the respective presentations, “Novel and Big Data Approaches to Identifying Disaster Displacement,” and “Migration, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Climate in Central America’s Northern Triangle.”
During the International CODATA FAIR Convergence Symposium 2020 held virtually November 27–December 4, CIESIN director Robert Chen presented in a panel session, “Synergies between Citizen Science Data and the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicators,” organized by Dilek Fraisl of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria. Chen then led a breakout group within this session. Alex de Sherbinin also contributed to the session, “Citizen Science in Africa for the SDGs,” giving closing remarks. The Symposium was organized by the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Science Council and the GO FAIR initiative.
On December 1 Chen gave a short presentation, “Open Data Sharing Across the Disaster Lifecycle," in the community session, "A Call to Action for Resilience: Moving from Research to Practice,” held as part of the World Bank’s 2020 Understanding Risk Forum (UR2020) December 1–3. The session was organized by Charles Huyck of ImageCat, Inc. and Shanna McClain of NASA. Chen highlighted the importance of open data access and reuse throughout the disaster management lifecycle, not just in the immediate aftermath of an extreme event.
Experts from Colombia and Paraguay Participate in Workshop on Using Gridded Population Data for Sustainable DevelopmentDecember 2, 2020
Professor Stefan Leyk of the University of Colorado organized and led a virtual workshop November 30, “Gridded Population Data for the Sustainable Development Goals,” for experts from Colombia's National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and Paraguay's General Directorate of Statistics, Surveys, and Censuses (DGEEC). The workshop provided an overview of the development and sources of gridded population data, hands-on technical training in working with selected data, and a forum for obtaining feedback on user needs. CIESIN Director Robert Chen gave introductory remarks during the opening session, and in the final session research scientist Susana Adamo provided an update in Spanish on progress and plans for the fifth version of the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) data set. Associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Geospatial Applications Greg Yetman, and research staff assistant Juan Martinez also attended.
The workshop was organized by Leyk and Maryam Rabiee of the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), under the auspices of the POPGRID Data Collaborative. Funding for the workshop was provided by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. POPGRID is an initiative launched by CIESIN in 2017 to bring together both developers and users of global georeferenced population data in support of development applications. POPGRID activities and resources are supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Leyk is also a member of SEDAC′s User Working Group.
CIESIN experts helped to celebrate GIS Day as part of several events held virtually on November 18. For a “Lunch and Learn” Webinar organized by NASA and Esri, Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, gave a 10-minute talk on how geographic information systems (GIS) facilitates the integration of socioeconomic and biophysical data to support interdisciplinary research and applications. He noted CIESIN’s long history in developing gridded population data products, extending back more than 25 years when GIS software was still in its infancy.
Later in the day, CIESIN and the New York City (NYC) Geospatial Information System and Mapping Organization (GISMO) held the online event, “Discover the World Through GIS in NYC.” The event featured presentations by students and researchers from CIESIN and Columbia University, Lehman College of the City University of New York, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Nearly 80 people from around the world learned about efforts to map the movement of refugees and COVID-19; plan for disaster housing; evaluate bike paths in the Bronx; implement interactive mapping in the NYCHA; and prioritize tiger habitats in India’s wildlife corridors. The event was hosted by senior geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff, in coordination with senior geographic information specialist Tricia Chai-Onn. Mendeloff is a member of the Board of Directors of GISMO, a volunteer organization founded in 1990.
CIESIN has recently released the preliminary 2020 version of the Natural Resource Protection and Child Health Indicators (NRPI and CHI) in support of the country selection process conducted by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The MCC bases its selection criteria for foreign assistance on a variety of quantitative governance, social, economic, and environmental indicators, including the NRPI and CHI. The USAID has also begun utilizing the CHI in 2020 to chart progress on the Journey to Self-Reliance, an initiative that fosters sustained self-reliance on the part of developing countries. The NRPI assesses whether a country is protecting at least 17% of all of its biomes (e.g., forests, grasslands, aquatic ecosystems, and tundra). The CHI incorporates three underlying indicators—Access to At Least Basic Sanitation, Access to At Least Basic Water, and Child Mortality, ages 1–4—and serves a useful proxy for key environmental conditions.
The 2020 version of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and CIESIN, has also been released. The EPI ranks 180 countries in two major components, environmental health and ecosystem vitality, based on 32 indicators. Produced every two years since 2006, the EPI is archived and disseminated by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) managed by CIESIN. The 2020 release includes a report, data sets for download, and an extensive map gallery of nearly 100 maps visualizing changes in performance over more than two decades.
Senior digital archivist Robert Downs participated in the 16th Plenary meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA P16) held virtually November 9–12. The meeting, which was organized by CONARE Costa Rica, RDA United States, and Research Data Canada, had the theme, “Knowledge Ecology,” focusing on how open science can support the diversification, expansion, reuse, and constant creation of knowledge, as in healthy ecological systems. On November 9, Downs led the joint breakout session of the Repository Platforms for Research Data Interest Group (IG) and the Domain Repositories IG, “Approaches for Selecting Research Data Repository Platforms and Sharing Resources to Facilitate Open Science.″ During this session, he gave two presentations, “Selecting Research Data Repository Platforms for Open Science,” and “Opportunities for Sharing Resources among Research Data Repositories.” Downs also presented the poster, “Simultaneously Leveraging Principles to Improve Capabilities for Using Research Data,” as part of the P16 poster session. Recordings from RDA P16 are now available online to meeting registrants.
The RDA was established in 2013 as an international community of data experts and users. It now has more than 10,000 members from more than 145 countries.
A major milestone for CIESIN′s main program, the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), has been reached: 100,000 registered users since implementing the registration system back in February 2015, or about 17,000 per year. Note that this includes only the users registering to download data; the SEDAC Web site receives more than 50,000 visitors a month. SEDAC users constitute about 10% of the registered users in the wider NASA Earthdata Login (EDL) system, which includes 11 of the other sister data centers (DAACs) in the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), and various other elements and components.
Users who participated in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index survey gave SEDAC an overall positive evaluation again. The survey assesses user satisfaction with the data, tools, and support provided by the NASA EOSDIS data centers and services, of which SEDAC is the only one to focus on the integration of remote sensing and socioeconomic data.
CIESIN has developed a collaboration with the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences at Lehman College of the City University of New York to develop and enhance hazards data, working initially with five Lehman graduate and undergraduate students. Supervised by CIESIN alumnus Yuri Gorokhovich, associate professor in the Department, the students are Christopher Aime, Diana Calderón, Nira Rahman, and Raychell Velez from Lehman's Master′s program in Geographic Information Science; and Hadja Doumbouya, a senior majoring in environmental sciences. CIESIN associate director for Geospatial Applications Greg Yetman is assisting the students in using machine learning methods to develop improved data on the exposure and vulnerability of buildings and other infrastructure to hazards, extending recent work for the State of New York supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Carolynne Hultquist, CIESIN postdoctoral research scientist, and Andrew Kruczkiewicz, senior staff associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), are also working with the students to apply the data to flash flood hazard assessment.
The collaboration is supported by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) as part of SEDAC's efforts to achieve small business purchasing goals established by NASA, which include collaboration with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Outputs of the collaboration will be made available via SEDAC after appropriate review. Based in the Bronx, Lehman is one of the only MSIs (or HBCU′s) in the US to offer a master of science degree in geographic information science.
On Thursday, November 19, because of required maintenance on the NASA user registration system, visitors to the SEDAC Web site will not be able to create a new account or download data from SEDAC for a brief period between 10 a.m. and 12 noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) (UTC-05:00). Users will still be able to browse the Web site and use the SEDAC map tools and services. The Web site will be fully operational following this time period. Please note that this maintenance has been rescheduled from November 4. For any questions or concerns, please contact SEDAC User Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Global COVID-19 Viewer developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN was the subject of the first NASA Earthdata Webinar of fiscal year 2021, “SEDAC’s Global COVID-19 Viewer: A User-Friendly Tool for Assessing National and Subnational Trends and Risk Factors in Coronavirus Spread.” The October 28 webinar was given by Alex de Sherbinin, SEDAC deputy manager and CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, and Joe Schumacher, SEDAC user services manager and CIESIN senior information specialist. Approximately 110 participants learned about the development of the Viewer, launched in March 2020 and updated most recently in September. The Webinar included a live demonstration of the Viewer, which lets users visualize spatially-explicit trends in COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, including daily updated global data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in relationship to population density and key risk factors. The demo focused on current hotspots, interesting trends, and an exploration of risk factors.
On November 2, Jolynn Schmidt, program manager-data lead for the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) program managed by CIESIN, participated in a workshop at the 7th 2020 GeONG Forum, a virtual gathering of international humanitarian and development organizations. The workshop focused on different approaches and lessons learned in defining health catchment areas and assessing the number of people in them, which is important for estimating the potential number of patients and demand on health facilities. Schmidt presented her experience working to strengthen developing countries’ capabilities for mapping population distribution, human settlements, and other core spatial data layers.
Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, recently published the feature article, “Impacts of Climate Change as Drivers of Migration,” in Migration Information Source, the online journal of the Migration Policy Institute. The article reviews the growing evidence base for environmentally induced migration, summarizes key lessons learned, and assesses implications for future migration under climate change.
Climate-migration linkages have also been the focus of a number of recent events. On October 21, de Sherbinin gave a presentation, “Climate Change and Its Impacts on (Well Being), Migration, and Displacement,” to the Virtual Global Climate Change Seminar Series of the Weill Cornell Medicine Global Health Education program. He also moderated a virtual panel, “Climate, Conflict, and Coronavirus: A Perfect Storm for Migrants and Displaced Persons,” October 22. Panelists included Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Kamal Amakrane, director in the Office of the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA); and Leslie Roberts, associate professor of Population and Family Health and a member of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia′s Mailman School of Public Health. This was one of a series of panels organized by the Committee on Forced Migration, an initiative of the Columbia Global Centers.
CIESIN director Robert Chen presented approaches to open data access by the Earth observations and research communities during an online stakeholder consultation organized October 21 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Conclusions and recommendations from the session are being submitted as inputs to the WMO Data Conference, to be held virtually November 16–19. The WMO Data Conference is seeking to develop a common understanding across all sectors of society on the roles, requirements, and arrangements needed for international exchange of observations and other data for monitoring and prediction of the Earth System environment, including weather, climate, and water.
The 2020 United Nations (UN) World Data Forum was held virtually October 19–21, in place of a physical meeting in Bern, Switzerland, that has been postponed to 2021. The Forum serves as a platform for intensifying cooperation on sustainable development data across a diverse set of communities, under the auspices of the UN Statistical Commission.
Several CIESIN staff participated actively in the Forum. On October 20, Sandra Baptista, senior research associate, and Andrea Jordan, special assistant to the deputy director, both representing the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) program, co-organized the live panel, “Use of Geospatial Data to Support COVID-19 Response,” with Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE). The panel was moderated by Io Blair-Freese of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and included two partners in the GRID3 program: Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, minister of state for budget and national planning of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and co-chair of GRID3′s Nigeria national steering committee; and David Moinina Sengeh, minister of basic and senior secondary education and chief innovation officer for the Government of Sierra Leone.
The Forum also included a number of pre-recorded sessions. NASA, UN-Habitat, the European Space Agency, and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) organized a session on the use of Earth observations to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. CIESIN Director Robert Chen co-authored a short presentation with Thomas Kemper of the European Commission′s Joint Research Centre on behalf of the GEO Human Planet Initiative, which he co-leads. They also participated in a pre-recorded question-and-answer session.
Recordings of Forum sessions are now available online. The UN World Data Forum was originally established in response to a key recommendation in the 2014 report, “A World that Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development,″ prepared by the UN Secretary-General′s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.
CIESIN has developed and released several new data sets recently. Now available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) is the Food Insecurity Hotspots data set, which consists of gridded data identifying the level of intensity and frequency of food insecurity over ten years between 2009 and 2019, as well as hotspots of consecutive food insecurity events. The data set covers five regions: Central America and the Caribbean, Central Asia, East Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. The grids are at 250 meter (~7.2 arc-seconds) resolution and are based on subnational food security analyses for these regions provided by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). FEWS NET was established in 1985 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
As part of the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) program managed by CIESIN, data on operational settlement points and/or boundaries, health facilities, and points of interests have been released for Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Settlement extent data are now available for 41 African countries, created from Digitize Africa building footprints powered by Maxar. GRID3 has expedited settlement extent mapping to support countries in their COVID-19 response efforts. The data are broadly intended to support country decision-making in public health and education.
The World Data System (WDS) of the International Science Council (ISC) held its 2020 Members Forum online on September 23. CIESIN associate director of Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin, in his capacity as chair of the WDS Scientific Committee, helped organize and chair the Forum and gave a presentation on the issue of generalist versus domain-specific repositories. CIESIN director Robert Chen chaired a panel session, “Sustainability: Making the Case for Domain Repositories through Value of Information, Operational Use, and Web Services.” As manager of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), which is a regular member of WDS, Chen also pre-recorded a lightning presentation on SEDAC′s strategic goals and plans. Other Forum participants included senior digital archivist Robert Downs and research scientist Susana Adamo, as well as representatives from several other NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) and from NASA′s Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project, which is a network member of the WDS.
In conjunction with the Forum, the International Symposium: Global Collaboration on Data Beyond Disciplines was held September 23–25. A plenary session to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the hosting of the WDS International Programme Office (WDS-IPO) by the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) included pre-recorded remarks given by de Sherbinin on behalf of the WDS Scientific Committee.
CIESIN remains active in several different WDS activities. For example, Downs is a member of the WDS Harvestable Metadata Services (HMetS) Working Group and de Sherbinin co-leads the joint CODATA-WDS Citizen Science for the SDGs Task Group. He also chaired the virtual meeting of the WDS Scientific Committee on October 13–15.
Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for Science Applications, Susana Adamo, research scientist, and Tricia Chai-Onn, senior geographic information specialist, are co-authors of a new study on the link between environmental challenges and religion, published in the Journal of Religion and Demography. Vegard Skirbekk of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health is lead author. The paper, “Religious Affiliation and Environmental Challenges in the 21st Century,” builds on a growing body of research carried out at the Columbia Aging Center, where researchers analyzed religious affiliation together with a variety of environment and climate change-related indicators at the country level.
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