Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia University
Home PageContact Info

About Us
Programs and Projects
Data & Information Resources
Education & Outreach
News and Events

News & Events

Current News | 2007 | 2006 |  2005 | 200420032002 | 2001 | 2000

CIESIN Staff Appointed to Several National Research Council Studies

November 2, 2005

CIESIN’s director, Roberta Balstad, has been appointed to a new National Research Council (NRC) ad hoc Committee on “Earth System Science for Decisions about Human Welfare: Contributions of Remote Sensing” chaired by Ruth deFries of the University of Maryland under the auspices of the Geographical Sciences Committee (GSC). CIESIN Associate Research Scientist Deborah Balk is a member of another GSC committee on “Using Demography Data and Tools More Effectively to Assist Populations at Risk of Facing Disasters: A Workshop” chaired by Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina. Dr. Balk is also serving on the Panel on Confidentiality Issues Arising from the Integration of Remotely Sensed and Self-Identifyng Data chaired by Myron Gutmann of the University of Michigan established by the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. Dr. Balstad and CIESIN Associate Director Marc Levy are also serving on several different panels of the NRC’s “decadal” study on “Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future.”

Editorial on “Science and the Digital Divide” in October 21, 2005 issue of Science

October 21, 2005

An editorial on “Science and the Digital Divide” by Shuichi Iwata of the University of Tokyo and Robert Chen of CIESIN appeared in the 21 October 2005 issue of Science. The editorial addresses the issue of open access to scientific data and information in the context of the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia. Iwata is President of CODATA, the Committee for Data on Science and Technology, and Chen is its Secretary General.


CIESIN Participated in the 6th Human Dimensions Open Meeting in Bonn, Germany on October 9-13

October 13, 2005

CIESIN participated actively in the 6th Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Research Community in Bonn, Germany on October 9-13. As one of the meeting co-sponsors, CIESIN co-organized a pre-meeting user workshop and training seminar on “Making Sense of Geospatial Data” in collaboration with the University of Bonn and the Population Environment Research Network. CIESIN staff members Deborah Balk, Robert Chen, Alex deSherbinin, and Marc Levy chaired or co-chaired several sessions and gave 4 presentations on topics ranging from the spatial distribution of global poverty to water and conflict. Earth Institute postdocs Chris Doll and Christian Webersik, who are hosted by CIESIN, also presented papers.


CIESIN Awarded Cooperative Agreement for Metadata Training for Public Health Records Data

September 30, 2005

In collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), CIESIN has received a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) on “Metadata Training for Public Health Records Data.” This one-year agreement, part of the FGDC’s FY05 Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP), will focus on improving the documentation and management of public health-related geospatial records and will include several “Train the Trainer” courses open to the public.

Socio-Economic and Environmental Drivers of Emerging Infectious Diseases

September 12, 2005

CIESIN has received a grant from the National Science Foundation, through its Human and Social Dynamics program, to systematically characterize temporal and geographical trends in emerging diseases. The one-year, $125,000 grant, to begin November 2005, is a collaborative effort between CIESIN and the Consortium for Conservation Medicine. Peter Daszak of CCM and Deborah Balk of CIESIN are PIs, and Kate Jones of CCM is a co-PI.

Data Management System for Sediment Geochemistry

September 12, 2005

CIESIN and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) have been awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design, develop, and operate a data management and information system for geochemical data of marine sediments (SedDB). SedDB will serve to the scientific community an integrated global data set for marine sediment geochemistry via easy desktop access. It will provide a research tool that will maximize the application of geochemical data on marine sediments to a wide range of research topics, from the chemical evolution of the Earth's crust and mantle to paleoclimate reconstruction. SedDB will facilitate integration of geochemical data with other data types to promote cross-disciplinary approaches in research and education. The award is for three years starting from July 1, 2005.


Integrated Data Management for Solid Earth Geochemistry

September 12, 2005

CIESIN and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) have been awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design, develop, and operate the EarthChem system (EarthChem) to maximize the application of solid earth geochemical data in Geoscience research and education by establishing an advanced data management system that will facilitate the compilation, communication, serving, and visualization of geochemical data. EarthChem will expand the long-term collaborative effort of the PetDB, NAVDAT, and GEOROC data systems that serve geochemical analyses of igneous rocks and minerals together with a wide array of metadata about the samples and the analytical procedure to the broad community of Earth scientists. EarthChem will provide a new level of cross database compatibility and interoperability including search capabilities across federated databases, and easier integration of geochemical data with broader pan-Geoscience information technology developments. The award is for five years, collaborative with Kansas University and the Kansas Ecological Survey.


Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis

March 29, 2005

A collaboration of the Columbia Center for Hazards and Risk Research, the International Research Institute on Climate Predications, the World Bank and CIESIN, this report presents a global view of major natural disaster risk hotspots (areas at relatively high risk of loss from one or more natural hazards). It summarizes the results of an interdisciplinary analysis of the location and characteristics of hotspots for six natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought, and cyclones. Data on these hazards are combined with state-of-the-art data on the subnational distribution of population and economic output and past disaster losses to identify areas at relatively high risk from one or more hazards. CIESIN staff led the data integration and analysis effort.

See: (project website)

See: (for press release)

Climate Change Information Resources for the New York Metropolitan Region

March 25 , 2005

CIESIN, in collaboration with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Hunter College, has developed a new online information resource on the impacts of climate change and variability in the tri-state New York metropolitan area.


Global Rural Urban Mapping Project Data Sets Beta Release

March 11, 2005

CIESIN's Global Rural Urban Mapping Project has created three complementary data products:

(1) GRUMP Human Settlements is a global database of cities and towns of 1,000 persons or more, where each settlement is represented as a point, and includes information on population sizes, longitude and latitude coordinates, and data sources.

(2) The GRUMP Urban Extent Mask is the first systematic global-scale attempt to portray the boundaries of urban areas with defined populations of 5000 persons or more.

(3) The GRUMP Population Grid represents the distribution of human population across the globe,accounting for urban population concentration more precisely than previous efforts to this end.

GRUMP is a collaborative project with partners from the International Food and Policy Research Institute, the World Bank, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

See: (for data description and download)

See: (for press release)

Call for Papers— 6th Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions Research Community

February 15, 2005

Call for Papers for the Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Community, October 9-13 , 2005, Bonn, Germany. Deadline: March 10. CIESIN-sponsored sessions include poverty mapping, filling critical data gaps for human dimensions research, and making population-environment research relevant to policy makers.


PetDB: The Petrological Database of the Ocean Floor

January 31, 2005

A new and improved version of PetDB, the Petrological Database of the Ocean Floor, has been recently released. CIESIN worked with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists to develop an updated architecture and design a new interface to the database. PetDB is a data management and information system for geochemical and petrological data of igneous and metamorphic rocks from the ocean floor generated at spreading centers (mid-ocean ridges, back-arc basins, young near-axis seamounts, and old oceanic crust). PetDB contains all types of published analytical data measured on rocks, glasses, minerals, and melt inclusions (major and trace element data, stable and radiogenic isotope ratios, noble gas data, etc.). PetDB currently contains more than 785,000 chemical values for more than 33,000 rock samples from all of the Earth’s oceans.


2005 Environmental Sustainability Index Report Released at Davos

28 January 2005

The 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index was released on January 28 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A joint product of CIESIN and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, the ESI ranks 146 countries on levels of sustainability.


UN Secretary Kofi Annan and Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs Release UN Millennium Project Reports:  A Practical Action Plan to Combat Poverty

January 16, 2005

The UN Millennium Project reports, providing an action plan to combat poverty, were released to the public at a press conference on January 16 with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs. CIESIN undertook spatial data analysis for several Millennium Project Task Forces, and CIESIN's maps are featured in the Hunger Task Force report (Task Force 2).


Tsunami Resource Page

January 7, 2005

CIESIN has set up a tsunami resource page that provides data and maps on the population affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004 as well as links to articles written by CIESIN staff.


This page last modified: Feb 22, 2019