Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia University
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The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment.

Map of the Month
In Haiti, Exploring What Drives People to Alter the Landscape
April 2014
In Haiti, Exploring What Drives People to Alter the Landscape Study of the Pedernales Watershed, located along Haiti’s southern national boundary with the Dominican Republic, may provide insights into the stark contrast in land cover patterns between the two countries.

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In the Spotlight

IPCC Report: Managing the Risks of Climate Change is Critical

flooding in Lahore, Pakistan

The Working Group II contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5), Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, was released March 31 in Yokohama, Japan. The Report concludes that the effects of climate change can already be seen and the world is not well-prepared for risks that may result from climate change. High levels of warming will challenge opportunities for response.

The Working Group identified three elements contributing to risk from climate change: vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way), overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods. Observed impacts are found worldwide, throughout diverse climates and from small islands to large continents, in wealthy countries as well as poor.

CIESIN deputy director, Marc Levy, was a lead author of chapter 12 on human security, a topic highlighted in the Report for the first time. Among this chapter's key findings are that societies in conflict are more vulnerable to climate change; that migration is a widely used strategy for adapting to climate impacts; that climate change is likely to amplify conflict risk; and that climate change threatens to disrupt geopolitical security dynamics.  

Levy was among 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, who produced the report. The IPCC further enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers. CIESIN senior research associate Valentina Mara was a contributing author for chapter 13, on livelihoods and poverty.  CIESIN data and reports, as well as journal articles written by CIESIN staff, were cited in several chapters of the report.

For the past two decades, IPCC’s Working Group II has developed assessments of climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. The latest Working Group I report, which focused on the physical science dimension of climate change, was released in September 2013. The Working Group III report, which focuses on mitigation, is scheduled for release in April 2014. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle concludes with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of human induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for mitigation and adaptation. CIESIN co-manages the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC), which makes available data from IPCC assessments and other reports, and contributes on an ongoing basis to the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA).

See: IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5)
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