by Peter Colohan (he’s awesome!), Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, April 19, 2013
Ever wonder where the Weather Channel gets its data? Where the satellite images for Google Earth come from? These data and much more come from a complex array of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and other platforms for collecting what the scientific community calls Earth observations. These data are used every day to protect life and property and answer key questions about our planet.Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations—a framework for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s Earth-observation enterprise. Currently, 11 Federal departments and agencies engage in Earth observation activities, collecting volumes of important data about the Earth on an ongoing basis, using an array of sophisticated tools and systems. The new Strategy outlines a process for evaluating and prioritizing Earth-observation investments according to their value to society in critical areas such as agriculture, global change, disasters, water resources, and weather.Each year, the U.S. Government invests significant resources in Earth-observations systems to collect data about Earth’s land, oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Together, these systems take the pulse of our planet, providing critical Earth-system data that scientists and analysts can then turn into usable information about climate and weather, disaster events, land-use changes, ecosystem health, natural resources, and more. Ultimately, information and services derived from Earth-observation data—including some as ubiquitous as weather forecasts and GPS-navigation—are used by policy makers, resource managers, business leaders, first-responders, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions.But as the Nation’s Earth-observation capacity has grown, so has the complexity of the Earth-observation endeavor. The demand for data, the complexity of the tools required to collect those data, and the sheer amount of data being collected, all are increasing. The National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations aims to help Federal agencies face these challenges by better-organizing existing Earth-observation systems and information, and coordinating plans for future projects. In support of the Obama Administration’s Open Data Initiatives, this Strategy also provides specific guidance on how agencies can make these Earth observations more open and accessible to the public.Going forward, the Strategy will be used as a basis to inform a broad National Plan for Civil Earth Observations—a blueprint for future investments in US Earth-observing systems, including agency roles and responsibilities, and creative solutions to challenges related to maintaining the Nation’s Earth-observing systems. It will also reinforce the United States’ ongoing commitment to work with international partners through the multi-national Group on Earth Observations GEO.The Strategy released today provides an evidence-based framework for routine assessment and planning across the entire family of Federal agencies engaged in Earth observations. It will help agencies compare notes, prioritize activities, and improve the quality of data about the planet—with the ultimate goal of meeting society’s most pressing data and information needs. Read the Strategy here.Learn more about global Earth-observation efforts here.Peter Colohan is a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) urges national investment in a comprehensive, updated flood map inventory for every community in the US. This will drive down costs and suffering from flooding on our nation and its citizens, as well as providing the best tool for managing flood risk and building sustainable communities.
For full text and to download a copy of the report, visit The Association of State Floodplain Managers | ASFPM.
- More Resources on Floods – from ASFPM (recoverydiva.com)
The Geo-Wiki Project: Validation Competition
Owing to the importance of global land cover in disciplines such as climate change, food security and land-use modelling, the creation of a global land cover calibration and validation dataset is essential. To help us achieve this goal, we have established a global sample of validation points which we want you to classify in this competition. You will be presented with pixels overlaid on Google Earth and we would like you to tell us what land cover types you can see up to a maximum of three classes. As most pixels contain multiple land cover types, this will provide us with valuable information for future validation of land cover maps and to get a better understanding on how much people have modified the landscape.
The top 10 classifiers will be invited to join as co-authors on a scientific publication. The score will be based equally on a quality evaluation and the number of validations provided. The publication will be called: How much wilderness is there left on this planet? It will be an extension of the work done by Sandersen et al., i.e. The Human Footprint and the Last of the Wild, which you can find here. Furthermore, the top three classifiers will be awarded Amazon gift certificates with a value of 50 Euro.
The competition will end September 15th, 2012 at 23:59:59 CEST.
For more information, got to Welcome to Geo-Wiki Project.
By Lisa Friedman, Scientific American, March 19, 2012
University of Texas researchers have developed a sophisticated new mapping tool showing where vulnerability to climate change and violent conflicts intersects throughout the African continent. More than a year in the making and part of a $7.6 million, five-year Department of Defense grant, the Climate Change and African Political Stability project culls data on riots, civil unrest and other violent outbursts dating back to 1996. It overlaps with information about climate-change-induced vulnerabilities like drought, as well as the type of aid that is being delivered to various parts of Africa.
For full text of the article in Scientific American, visit U.S. Defense Department Develops Map of Future Climate Chaos: Scientific American.
- U.S. Defense Department Develops Map of Future Climate Chaos (scientificamerican.com)
by Felicity Barringer, NYT, May 30, 2011
IRVINE, Calif. — Scientists have been using small variations in the Earth’s gravity to identify trouble spots around the globe where people are making unsustainable demands on groundwater, one of the planet’s main sources of fresh water. They found problems in places as disparate as North Africa, northern India, northeastern China and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Valley in California, heartland of that state’s $30 billion agricultural industry. Jay S. Famiglietti, director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling here, said the center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, known as Grace, relies on the interplay of two nine-year-old twin satellites that monitor each other while orbiting the Earth, thereby producing some of the most precise data ever on the planet’s gravitational variations.
- Precise Geodetic Infrastructure: National Requirements for a Shared Resource (National Research Council), see for example page 41 (Box 3.1 GRACE satellite) and pages 55-58 (Measuring Surface and Groundwater Storage).
by Lou Friedman, The Space Review, Monday, March 21, 2011
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan are the type of events that impact every aspect of life. Catastrophic events are not new on Earth—an argument that climate change deniers like to make to support their position that we should not worry about climate change’s impact. But what is so different now from even a century ago, let alone over the millennia of recorded history, is both the size of our population and its dependence on technology. Both change what were limited local problems into global ones. …
For full text of the article, visit The Space Review: Earthquakes and climate change: get the data.
While the difficulties of communicating climate science has been a hot topic in the news lately, professionals in geospatial science and technology also would benefit from improving their communication skills, particularly when interacting with policy makers.
Their Own Worst Enemies: Why scientists are losing the PR wars.
by Sharon Begley, Newsweek, March 18, 2010
It’s a safe bet that the millions of Americans who have recently changed their minds about global warming—deciding it isn’t happening, or isn’t due to human activities such as burning coal and oil, or isn’t a serious threat—didn’t just spend an intense few days poring over climate-change studies and decide, holy cow, the discretization of continuous equations in general circulation models is completely wrong! Instead, the backlash (an 18-point rise since 2006 in the percentage who say the risk of climate change is exaggerated, Gallup found this month) has been stoked by scientists’ abysmal communication skills, plus some peculiarly American attitudes, both brought into play now by how critics have spun the “Climategate” e-mails to make it seem as if scientists have pulled a fast one. …
For full text of the article, visit Why Scientists Are Losing the Public-Relations War – Newsweek.
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
- Don’t be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style by Randy Olson
- A Scientist’s Guide to Talking with the Media by Richard Hayes and Daniel Grossman
- Am I Making Myself Clear: A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public by Cornelia Dean
- Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science edited by Sharon M. Friedman, Sharon Dunwoody, and Carol L. Rogers
- Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter by Nancy Baron
- Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your Work by Dennis Meredith
- Working with Congress: A Practical Guide for Scientists and Engineers by William G. Wells
- Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum