Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
Produced every two years by a research team from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and CIESIN, Columbia University, the EPI ranks country performance on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas, protection of human health from environmental harm, and protection of ecosystems. The 2016 EPI evaluated 180 countries, in nine categories of environmental concern.
Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS)
A collaboration between the Earth Institute and African scientists and institutions, to develop detailed digital maps of soils in 42 countries of sub-Saharan Africa in support of sustainable agriculture. CIESIN is helping to build the information systems for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the data to a wide range of end users. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
Population-Environment Research Network (PERN)
Promotes online scientific exchange to further academic research on population and the environment. Sponsored by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and the International Human Dimensions on Global Environmental Change Programme (IHDP).
Environment and Security CIESIN is involved in a number of initiatives assessing the implications of environmental stress on national security and international peace and conflict, especially in relationship to climate change and variability.
Assessment of Potential Flood Impacts to Buildings in the Hudson Valley/Long Island Regions
A three-year project to develop building footprint data and conduct a flood scenario impact analysis, supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Climate Change Adaptation Research and Strategies Program. Building on previous NYSERDA projects conducted in collaboration with the Stevens Institute of Technology, the project will focus on all counties adjacent to the Hudson River from the southern border of Westchester County to the Federal Dam at Troy, as well as counties outside New York City adjacent to Long Island Sound. Using published data on property assets and critical infrastructure, modelled future storm surge and sea level rise impacts will be evaluated under different climate change scenarios. Adaptation and mitigation strategies appropriate for addressing flood risk for buildings will also be identified.
Computational Thinking in Ecosystems (CT-E)
This new project seeks to integrate computing concepts and skills with learning about ecosystems in both formal and informal educational settings. CIESIN director Robert Chen is co-principal investigator of the effort, which is led by Stephen Uzzo of NYSCI. Supported by the STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) initiated by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the two-year project is developing innovative ways to engage students with hands-on tools to develop and use computer programming as part of learning about ecological systems and how scientists study them. CT-E builds on a previous collaboration between NYSCI, CIESIN, and Design I/O that led to the design and implementation of NYSCI's unique immersive, interactive installation, Connected Worlds. One of the planned outcomes is development of a tablet-based interface that allows students to take home elements of the Connected Worlds exhibit for further game-based learning.
Ecological Assessment of the Hudson River
CIESIN is working with the Nature Conservancy to implement
a physical habitat model of the Hudson River floor and conduct a comprehensive ecological assessment to characterize the habitat
units. The assessment will serve as a foundation for the Hudson River
Comprehensive Restoration Plan.
Improving Estimates of Building Exposure to Earthquake and Related Hazards
The NASA Applied Sciences Program has granted a three-year award to ImageCat, Inc. in collaboration with CIESIN, to utilize remote sensing data to improve estimates of building exposure to earthquake and related hazards. The project builds on a one-year feasibility study completed in early 2014 that demonstrated the potential value of medium-resolution remote sensing data in estimating building structural characteristics in urban areas that lack sufficient building data for risk assessment.
CIESIN has joined a team led by TetraTech/ARD to implement the West Africa hub of the SERVIR project, a joint venture between NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development. SERVIR provides state-of-the-art, satellite-based earth monitoring data, geospatial information, and tools to help improve environmental decision-making among developing nations. Operational hubs have been established in Eastern and Southern Africa, the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya region and the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia. For this five-year grant CIESIN and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) will develop applications of NASA data products for regional decision-making and will conduct technical training for regional partners, acting as subcontractors to TetraTech/ARD, who will manage the West Africa hub for USAID and NASA.
USAID West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC)
This five-year, $48.9 million dollar project addresses direct and indirect drivers of natural resource degradation to improve livelihoods and natural ecosystems across the region. The project will work with partners at the community, national, and regional levels, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Manu River Union (MRU), to strengthen policies and systems that will improve natural resource management and the health and resilience of selected coastal and upland forest ecosystems. The project is divided into three complementary components: combatting wildlife trafficking, improving forest conservation, and building coastal climate resilience. An implementing partner with Tetratech/ARD, CIESIN will contribute to the last two components.
CIESIN collaborates with a number of partners on projects spanning a variety of human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability themes.
CODATA Global Roads Data Development Task Group
CIESIN is co-leading an international group of experts
under the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and
Technology (CODATA), working to develop a global, publicly-available database on intercity roads. It will be used
for sustainable development, humanitarian response, transportation planning, and biodiversity conservation.
Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN)
CIESIN’s role in a consortium to address climate changes risks in the urban U.S. corridor from Philadelphia to Boston includes gathering and integrating diverse data on the region in the initial focus areas of water, health, and coastal zone management. CIESIN will also support outreach and training activities and establish the project Web site. The consortium, under a five-year award from the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) initiative, includes members from the Earth Institute; University of Massachusetts-Amherst; City College/CUNY; Stevens Institute of Technology; and Drexel University.
Detecting Water Quality Regime Shifts
For a two-year project funded by the US Department of the Interior, CIESIN with Brooklyn College and partners of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRI@JB) is developing an integrated data management system to assess spatial and temporal patterns of water quality in Jamaica Bay, and creating an online interactive mapping tool.
Geospatial Data Preservation Resource Center
The Web site is being developed and managed to enable discovery and access to documents and tools to facilitate long-term geospatial data preservation and stewardship. Accessible resources include descriptions and links for a variety of relevant resources, including education and training modules, useful tools and software, information on policies and standards for preserving geospatial data, and examples of successful preservation and associated benefits. The resource center is being developed as part of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) of the Library of Congress.
High-Performance Green Infrastructure to Sustain Coastal Cities
Development and testing of a new framework for the next generation of “high performance” green infrastructure (GI) systems for coastal sutainability under a five-year award from the National Science Foundation to Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. CIESIN will focus on geospatial infrastructure and analysis.
Hudson River Flood Hazard Decision Support System
A grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will support development of a flood assessment mapping tool for the lower Hudson Valley region. The Hudson River Flood Hazard Decision Support System will be a free, easy to use, online mapping tool that will allow users to assess the impacts of flood inundation posed by sea level rise, storm surge, and rain events on communities bordering the lower Hudson River. It will be based on a flood inundation model developed by researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology. The mapping tool will help public officials, resource managers, and others assess risk and plan flood mitigation efforts.
Terra Populus: A Global Population/Environment Data Network (TerraPop)
The National Science Foundation has made a major, $8 million, five-year award to a team led by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Population Center for a new project, Terra Populus: A Global Population / Environment Data Network (TerraPop). The goal of TerraPop is to integrate population census data from the past two centuries with global land cover, land use, and other environmental data, providing a unique data access and analysis system for improving understanding of the interactions between humans and the environment from local to global scales. As part of NSF’s Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network (DataNet), TerraPop will develop a sustainable digital archive for its data, accessible to researchers worldwide and building on the distributed capabilities of its partners. CIESIN is a key partner in the project, contributing its expertise in integrating socioeconomic and environmental data.
Vulnerability of the U.S. Atlantic Coast to Hazards Associated with Extreme Winter Storms (StormEVAAC)
This three-year interdisciplinary award will be led by a multi-university team headed by Yochanan Kushnir of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). CIESIN associate research scientist Susana Adamo is one of the project co-investigators, leading the human vulnerability assessment component of the study along with Malgosia Madajewicz of the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR). Other partners include Tim Hall of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), James Booth of City College of New York (CCNY), and Philip Orton of Stevens Institute of Technology. The project seeks to improve understanding of the coupled human-natural systems of the Northeast Coast during winter, and to deliver probabilistic information in support of decisions for adaptation and response.
Past Programs & Projects
Africa Exposure Data Development
In collaboration with ImageCAT, Inc., CIESIN is using optical remote sensing and demographic and economic data, along with inventories of critical infrastructure facilities and transportation networks, to establish a baseline for assessing natural disaster impacts for Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Niger, and Senegal. Funded by the World Bank.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Urbanization in Modern China
CIESIN collaborated with a medical researcher at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons to explore the implications of trends in urbanization and related population changes for future patterns of CVD in China.
Climate Change and Human Health (CHANGE Viewer)
CIESIN is partnering with the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology (IAGT) to develop the Climate and Health Analysis for Global Education Viewer (CHANGE Viewer), which uses 3-D NASA World Wind technology to visualize climate change impacts on human health. Part of the NASA Climate Change Impacts and Human Health program.
Climate Change Information Resources for the New York Metropolitan Region (CCIR-NYC)
Funded through a grant from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Global Programs, the aim of the CCIR-NYC was to advance scientific research and public policy by improving the communication of climate change data and information to urban policy-and decision makers and residents and, by so doing, to improve their capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. The CCIR-NYC is a flexible framework that allows the addition of new data and information as they become available.
Connected Worlds Project
CIESIN with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and others will prototype and implement a data-rich, interactive environment for learning about sustainability, to be installed at the NYSCI facility in Queens, New York. Funded by the US National Science Foundation.
Cyberinfrastructure for the Earth Institute (CI4EI)
A project led by CIESIN, as part of the Earth Institute’s Cross-Cutting Initiative (CCI) program, in response to a perceived need for a coherent strategy for developing and using cyberinfrastructure to fulfill organizational missions. CI4EI aims to identify cyberinfrastructure needs—software, human resources, policies and procedures, and development and maintenance of applications—throughout the scientific and engineering communities of the EI and other interested Columbia units; and to assess opportunities to address these needs.
Developing Global Building Exposure for Disaster Forecasting, Mitigation, and Response A NASA-funded collaboration with ImageCat Inc. USA to develop and test methods of assessing global building exposure for disaster forecasting, mitigation, and response. Building on ongoing work with the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) initiative, this one-year project explored the feasibility of combining remote sensing data from various sources with population data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), to better characterize the built environment in ways useful for catastrophe (CAT) modeling and loss estimation. The grant was among 17 awards in 2011 by the NASA Applied Sciences Program.
2012 Environmental Performance Index
The 2012 EPI ranks 132 countries, using 22 indicators in ten major policy categories including air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity, and forest management. The 2011 NRMI focuses more narrowly on natural resource management issues, and is used as one of a basket of indicators by the Millennium Challenge Corporation in assessing country eligibility for development assistance. PLACE III is a tabular data set providing national-level aggregates of territorial extent and population size by biome, climate zone, coastal proximity and elevation. It now includes separate estimates for urban and rural populations and a pivot table to facilitate selection and analysis.
2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
The 2010 EPI ranks 163 countries on environmental performance based on twenty-five indicators grouped within ten core policy categories—including environmental health, air quality, water resource management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and climate change. The EPI’s proximity-to-target approach, in which each country’s performance is measured against clearly defined targets, enables comparisons among countries with very different characteristics. Produced every two years in collaboration with Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, in association with the World Economic Forum.
2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
A collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, in association with the World Economic Forum. The 2008 EPI measures progress toward environmental goals for 149 countries.
Geoinformatics for Geochemistry
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and CIESIN designed and developed online databases and tools for the geoscience community. Now maintained by LDEO, these databases include PetDB (Petrologic Database of the Ocean Floor); SedDB (Data Management System for Sediment Geochemistry); EarthChem (Integrated Data Management for Solid Earth Geochemistry); and SESAR (System for Earth SAmple Registration).
GIS-Based Assessment of Undeveloped Parcels in New York Coastal Counties
GIS analysis of parcel data from the most significant unprotected and undeveloped coastal areas of New York, to be used by NYS DEC and Long Island Sound Study in conservation efforts.
Global Change Research and Information Office (GCRIO)
CIESIN managed the GCRIO on behalf of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program through 2002. GCRIO provides access to data and information on climate change research, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and global change related educational resources. As of 2003 the responsibility for GCRIO was assumed by the USCCSP.
Global Trends in Emerging Infectious Diseases
Study results in the journal Nature show EIDS are on the rise and zoonoses (diseases from wildlife) are the prime threat. Funded by the NSF, the team included scientists from CIESIN, London’s Institute of Zoology, CCM-Wildlife Trust NY, and The University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology.
Global Natural Disaster Hotspots
With support from the World Bank and the ProVention Consortium, CIESIN worked with the Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR) of the Earth Institute of Columbia University on a global analysis of high risk disaster hotspots. CIESIN conducted the geospatial analysis and was involved in the overall conceptualization of the project.
The Global Poverty Mapping Project A collaboration among CIESIN, The World Bank, and the Japanese government's Policy and Human Resource Development Fund that aimed to depict the global distribution of poverty in order to help design and enact interventions. Downloadable maps, spatial data, and tabular data are available on the Web site: Global coverage for infant mortality and malnutrition, and higher-resolution national coverage for consumption and basic needs in 28 countries. Selected maps appear in Where the Poor Are: An Atlas of Poverty (available for PDF download on the Web site.)
Haiti Regeneration Initiative
The Haiti Regeneration Initiative is a major collaboration between the the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Earth Institute, and various other organizations in Haiti that aims to provide sustainable solutions to some of the country’s most pressing challenges: post-earthquake reconstruction, economic and social development, environmental stabilization and restoration, and disaster risk management. The program is conceptualized as a long-term effort with a 20-year planning horizon, in four parts: Sustainable Development Solutions, the Côte Sud Initiative (CSI), the Port-à-Piment Millennium Village Project, and Haiti 2040. The CSI is the launch project of the HRI, located in the south department of Haiti.
Haiti Research and Policy Program
CIESIN has developed the Haiti GeoPortal, which features an online interactive map component for visualizing spatial and environmental data collected from prior fieldwork and from research continuing today under the broader Earth Institute Haiti Research and Policy Program. The Web site resources, including data visualization videos that help identify multi-hazard risk in the watershed of Port-à-Piment, are intended for local communities, partners, and researchers.
Hudson River Mapping Tool
CIESIN’s NBII-NIN, with the Beacon Institute, developed a Web-based data portal and mapping tool for exploring the physical and cultural geography of the Hudson River Watershed.
Human Dynamics of Emerging Diseases
This NSF-funded project is focused on population dynamics, climate change, and emerging diseases.
Hydrology and Conflict in Africa An interdiscliplinary exploration of the impact of drought on the incidence of civil War in Africa over the past three decades, in collaboration with UNH Water Systems Analysis Group and Peace Research Institute of Oslo.
Land-Use/Land Cover Change Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean
A collaborative NSF grant is exploring land use patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how they are affected by demographic, economic, and ecological factors.
Managing and Preserving Geospatial Electronic Records (MAPGER)
This project, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), investigated the requirements for state and local government archivists, records managers, and other institutional recordkeepers to manage and preserve electronic records with significant geospatial components, especially those records generated by Geographic Information System (GIS) software. The project identified and recommended practical and appropriate policies, techniques, standards, and practices to manage geospatial electronic records (GERs) to support their long-term retention and dissemination and to facilitate their usability and utility as important information resources of significant historical interest.
Metadata Training for Public Health Records Data
With funding from U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee, CIESIN worked with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to support training on metadata preparation for geospatial public health data.
Metropolitan East Coast Climate Impacts Assessment (MEC)
The MetroEast Coast study examined the New York metropolitan area’s vulnerability to climate change as part of the United States National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. CIESIN provided support in data management, electronic outreach, and cartographic presentation of data for educational purposes.
Millennium Development Project Support
CIESIN served as the “mapping arm” in support of the UN Millennium Project’s task forces. CIESIN’s maps and data were used in the reports of the poverty, hunger, health, and environmental sustainability task forces. CIESIN worked closely with the World Bank Development Economics Data and Research Groups collecting and integrating subnational poverty data for a wide range of developing countries.
Millennium Villages Project
Overseen by the Tropical Agriculture Program of the Earth Institute, the Millennium Villages Project is a collaborative initiative meant to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by improving the health, education, and livelihoods of select rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Specialists in agriculture, nutrition, energy, water, health, environment, and information technology are working in partnership with select communities (14 villages to date). Areas of focus include soil fertility restoration; nutritional programs; drinking water and sanitation facilities; energy and transportation initiatives; and malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
New Methods for Understanding Intra-Urban Contours at a Global Scale
The project uses a new sampling method to delineate urban and intra-urban areas at a much higher resolution (~1 km). The DSM results will be analyzed together with information on population and housing censuses, with Spectral Mixture Analysis (SMA) of moderate and high spatial resolution optical satellite imagery, and with both DMSP night lights. Funded by the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, the project is a collaboration among researchers from Baruch College-City University; California Institute of Technology; and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.
Northeast Information Node of the National Biological Information infrastructure (NBII)
The NBII was an electronic information network of the U.S. Geological Survey that provides access to biological data and information on U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems; NIN focused on eight states in the Northeast.
Polar Information Commons
A CODATA initiative co-led by CIESIN to develop an international framework for the long-term preservation of and access to polar region data, generated in part by the International Polar Year. Initial funding from ICSU.
PREDICT Partnering with a core consortium (UC-Davis, GVF, WCS, and EcoHealth Alliance), CIESIN helped improve the ability to generate predictive models of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and to support more effective risk surveillance. Supported by the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program of the USAID.
Prevention of Health Effects in Children from Energy-Related Air Pollution
CIESIN worked with the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health to integrate a novel biomedical approach, molecular epidemiology, and spatial analysis methods to determine the health risks to children from environmental pollutants generated by burning coals and other fossil fuels. CIESIN’s role was to develop the Geographic Information System (GIS) data and tools to help researchers understand the complex spatio-temporal relationships between the environmental pollution and disease and for identifying exposures.
Remote Sensing Technologies for Ecosystem Management Treaties
This two-year project (2003-2005), funded by the US Department of State, involved a collaboration with the Brazilian Institute the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA), and the Program for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development of Bañados del Este (PROBIDES) in Uruguay. The project focused on the utilization of satellite remote sensing data to improve the effectiveness of ecosystem-oriented multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and transboundary conservation.
Revitalizing Urban Population Projections: New Data, New Methods
The aimed production and evaluation of new spatially-explicit demographic methods for estimating and projecting city populations in the developing world. Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation Measures for Natural and Conflict-Related Hazards in the Asian Region
CIESIN contributed to a recently completed study led by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute to assess the risks of natural hazards and civil conflict in Asia in support of the humanitarian response needs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Social and Environmental Vulnerability in Disasters: Spatial Analysis and Information Management for Humanitarian Decision Making
An integrated approach to disaster assessment—bringing together the fields of physical science, demography, public health, and informatics—that aims to enhance the understanding of vulnerability and provide information for decision making post-disaster. A collaboration with the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
South Asia Urbanization
CIESIN will use night-time lights data to analyze growth patterns of South Asian cities over time. For phase one of the project, cities in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives with populations greater than 100,000 in the year 2000 have been mapped at two points in time, 1999 and 2010, and patterns of change in urban extent over the decade are being analyzed. Funded by the World Bank.
Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES)
The SRES was a key input into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report. CIESIN provided an Internet forum for the “open process” that contributed to the review of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, and CIESIN currently posts the new SRES emissions scenarios. These scenarios, in turn, form the basis of major IPCC climate change and impact projections over the next century. (Funded under SEDAC)
Transboundary Water Assessment Program (TWAP) CIESIN has joined an international team that is developing an assessment of transboundary river basins as part of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Transboundary Water Assessment Program (TWAP), a project comparing approximately 200 transboundary river basins around the world in order to improve understanding and management of current and future risks to both society and ecosystems at the river basin scale The team is led by the UNEP-DHI Center for Water and Environment with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI); the Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR) at the University of Kassel, Germany; the City University of New York (CUNY); and the Delta Alliance, The transboundary river basins component of the project aims to develop quantitative indicators on a variety of dimensions, including water quantity, water quality, ecosystems, governance, and socioeconomic trends, for use by the GEF and other stakeholders. CIESIN′s role is to create indicators of economic activity, socioeconomic well-being, vulnerability to natural disasters, and dependence on water resources.
Transatlantic Seminar Series
A seminar series on multiple risks in the context of sustainable development, co-organized by CIESIN, beginning Spring 2009. Funded by Columbia University’s Alliance Program, the seminars will be given by CIESIN and Earth Institute scientists at three universities in Paris, and by French scholars at Columbia.
Using Satellite Data to Develop Environmental Indicators
A project invorporating NASA satellite data in environmental indicators with improved spatial and temporal coverage. Project partners: Battelle Memorial Institute, NASA, NOAA, and the World Bank.
Where the Rain Falls
A series of case studies and associated maps examining the interplay between rainfall patterns, food security, and human mobility. Participatory research, household surveys, and expert interviews were conducted in eight countries:Bangladesh, India, Guatemala, Peru, Ghana, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam. Led by the development non-governmental organization CARE, with the United Nations University (UNU) and CIESIN.