IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events

The IRI has a record thirteen scientists and staff presenting at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting this year. Below is the schedule of events for those presenting, organized by theme and with links to additional information about their research. 


Climate and Population Health Vulnerabilities to Vector-Borne Diseases: Increasing Resilience Under Climate Change Conditions in Africa

Pietro Ceccato + Andrew Kruczkiewicz, Jerrod Lessel and Madeleine Thomson

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the City University of New York (CUNY) and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in collaboration with NASA SERVIR are developing tools to monitor climate variables (precipitation, temperature, vegetation, water bodies, inundation) that help projects in Africa to increase resilience to climate change for vector-borne diseases (i.e. malaria, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, and
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Development and Validation of Remote Sensing-Based Surface Inundation Products for Vector-Borne Disease Risk in East Africa

Pietro Ceccato

The potential impact of climate variability and change on the spread of infectious disease is of increasingly critical concern to public health. Newly-available remote sensing datasets may be combined with predictive modeling to develop new capabilities to mitigate risks of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, and rift valley fever. We have developed improved remote sensing-based products for monitoring water bodies and inundation dynamics that have potential utility for improving risk forecasts of vector-borne disease epidemics…  Read the rest of the abstract.


Characterizing Open Water Bodies and Their Color Properties Through Optical Remote Sensing to Identify Areas of Vector-Borne Disease Risk

Pietro Ceccato

Predicting the risk of vector-borne disease outbreaks is a required step towards their control and eradication. Satellite observations can provide needed data to support agency decisions with respect to deployment of preventative measures and control resources. The coverage and persistence of open water is one of the primary indicators of conditions suitable for mosquito breeding habitats. This is currently a poorly measured variable due to its spatial and temporal variability across landscapes, especially in remote areas. Here we develop a methodology for monitoring…
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Informing Reactive Vaccination Strategies for Meningococcal Meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa using Dust and Climate Predictors

Pietro Ceccato

Epidemics of meningococcal meningitis occur in sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season, a period when the region is affected by the Harmattan, a dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind blowing from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea. Although the mechanisms remain unclear, the location and seasonality of meningitis epidemics suggest that environmental factors, such as low absolute or relative humidity, high temperatures, and dusty atmospheric conditions play an important role…  Read the rest of the abstract.


Utilizing Remote Sensing to Explore Hydrological and Climatic Factors of Visceral Leishmaniasis in South Sudan

Andrew Kruczkiewicz + Madeleine Thomson, Alexandra Sweeney, Caitlin Reid, Jerrod Lessel and Pietro Ceccato

Recent epidemics of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Sudan and South Sudan (locally known as Kala Azar) have caused an estimated 100,000 deaths and have renewed the impetus for defining the ecological boundaries of this vector borne disease. In the past 30 years outbreaks have occurred cyclically within this country, but recent shifts in endemicity have necessitated a more robust understanding of the drivers of the disease. Previous work has suggested that the primary biological vector in this region exhibits sensitivities…
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Assessing the evaporation-precipitation feedback in CMIP5 models

Alexis Berg + Alessandra Giannini

Land-atmosphere interactions are recognized as a major component of the physical climate system. One of the key features of those interactions is the feedback of soil moisture on precipitation, which reflects the coupling between soil moisture and evapotranspiration on the one hand, and between evapotranspiration and precipitation on the other hand. Global climate models have been known to show large uncertainties in the simulation of this coupling – in particular regarding… Read the rest of the abstract.


A Quantitative Evaluation of the Multiple Narratives of the Recent Sahelian “Re-greening”

Alessandra Giannini

We present an interdisciplinary spatial analysis that aims to assess the evidence for ecological, climate, and social dimensions of the “re-greening” of the Sahelian environment. We explore human-environment interactions by creating an archival database of donor-funded interventions in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal from 1979 to 2001. We examine the spatial distribution of these interventions in relation to population density and to trends in precipitation and in greenness using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, or NDVI. …  Read the rest of the abstract.


Predicting Distribution and Inter-Annual Variability of Tropical Cyclone Intensity from a Stochastic, Multiple-Linear Regression Model

Chia-Ying Lee

We are working towards the development of a new statistical-dynamical downscaling system to study the influence of climate on tropical cyclones (TCs). The first step is development of an appropriate model for TC intensity as a function of environmental variables. We approach this issue with a stochastic model consisting of a multiple linear regression model (MLR) for 12-hour intensity forecasts as a deterministic component, and a random error generator as a stochastic component. Similar to the operational Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS), MLR relates the surrounding environment to…
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The Jetstream Orientation and Weather over the North Atlantic

Andrew Robertson

We study the effect of interannual variability of the jetstream orientation on weather systems over the North Atlantic basin (NAB) using reanalysis data. The daily transient kinetic energy of the geostrophic wind (GTKE) is taken as a measure of the collective strength of the weather systems, i.e. of storm activity over the North Atlantic. We partition the NAB (85 W–0 W, 15 N–65 N) into four rectangular regions, divided by the 45 W meridian and the 40 N parallel, and calculate the winter (DJFM) average of GTKE for each quadrant at 400hPa. The spatial average of GTKE over each region shows prominent year-to-year variability that is strongly correlated with the NAO; the highest correlations occur in…
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Weather types across the Maritime Continent: From the diurnal cycle to inter annual variations

Andrew Robertson

Multi-scale interactions over the Maritime Continent (MC) may cause island-scale seasonal rainfall anomaly dipoles during the rainy season in association with ENSO: El Niño events are found to accompany increased frequency of a quiescent large-scale daily circulation type. These large-scale quiescent conditions in turn allow stronger island-scale diurnal land-sea breeze circulations to develop; the latter result in more rainfall over the mountainous regions of Java and increased subsidence over the coastal plains. A similar phenomenon occurs over Borneo, where rainfall is enhanced in the coastal regions…
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Climate Risk Management and Decision Support Tools for the Agriculture Sector in Lao PDR, Bangladesh, and Indonesia

Erica Allis + Arthur Greene & Remi Cousin

We describe a comprehensive project for developing climate information and decision support / climate risk management tools in Lao PDR, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Mechanisms are developed for bringing the benefits of these tools to both policy makers and poor rural farmers, with the goal of enabling better management, at the farm level, of the risks associated with climate variability and change. The project comprises several interwoven threads, differentially applied in the different study regions…  Read the rest of the abstract.


Agriculture In Uruguay: New Methods For Drought Monitoring and Crop Identification Using Remotely Sensed Data

Jerrod Lessel + Pietro Ceccato

VIDEO abstract here 

Agriculture is a vital resource in the country of Uruguay. Here we propose new methods using remotely sensed data for assisting ranchers, land managers, and policy makers in the country to better manage their crops. Firstly, we created a drought severity index based on the climatological anomalies of land surface temperature (LST) data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Monitoring Mission (TRMM), and normalized difference water index (NDWI) data also using MODIS. The use of the climatological anomalies on the variables has improved…
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Providing a Spatial Context for Crop Insurance in Ethiopia: Multiscale Comparisons of Vegetation Metrics in Tigray

Bristol Mann

Weather-based index insurance projects are rapidly expanding across the developing world. Many of these projects use satellite-based observations to detect extreme weather events, which inform and trigger payouts to smallholder farmers. While most index insurance programs use precipitation measurements to determine payouts, the use of remotely sensed observations of vegetation is currently being explored. In order to use vegetation indices as a basis for payouts, it is necessary to establish a consistent relationship between the vegetation index and the health and abundance of agriculture on the ground… 
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Teaching the Intersection of Climate and Society

Cynthia Thomson

Q&A with Thomson

As the first program of its kind, the M.A. in Climate and Society at Columbia University educates students on how climate affects society and vice versa. The 12-month interdisciplinary Master’s program is designed to allow students from a wide variety of backgrounds to gain knowledge in climate science and a deep understanding of social sciences and how they related to climate. The presentation will highlight three key components of the program that have contributed to its growth and helped alumni become brokers that can effectively put climate science in the hands of the public and policymakers… Read the rest of the abstract.



A Stochastic Climate Generator for Agriculture in Southeast Asian Domains

Arthur Greene + Erica Allis

We extend a previously-described method for generating future climate scenarios, suitable for driving agricultural models, to selected domains in Lao PDR, Bangladesh and Indonesia. There are notable differences in climatology among the study regions, most importantly the inverse seasonal relationship of southeast Asian and Australian monsoons. These differences necessitate a partially-differentiated modeling approach, utilizing common features… Read the rest of the abstract.


Developing High-resolution Soil Database for Regional Crop Modeling in East Africa

Eunjin Han + Amor Ines

The most readily available soil data for regional crop modeling in Africa is the World Inventory of Soil Emission potentials (WISE) dataset, which has 1125 soil profiles for the world, but does not extensively cover countries Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa. Another dataset available is the HC27 (Harvest Choice by IFPRI) in a gridded format (10km) but composed of generic soil profiles based on only three criteria (texture, rooting depth, and organic carbon content). In this paper, we present a development and application of a high-resolution (1km), gridded soil database… Read the rest of the abstract.


Anatomy of A Local Scale Drought

Amor Ines

Drought is of global concern for society but it originates as a local problem. It has a significant impact on water quantity and quality and influences food, water, and energy security. The consequences of drought vary in space and time, from the local scale (e.g. county level) to regional scale (e.g. state or country level) to global scale. This study addresses a local-scale agricultural drought anatomy in Story County in Iowa, USA. This complex problem was evaluated using assimilated AMSR-E soil moisture and MODIS-LAI data into a crop model…  Read the rest of the abstract.


Streamflow forecasts on seasonal and interannual time scales for reservoir management

Andrew Robertson

Seasonal climate forecasts are beginning to be complemented by improved forecasting capabilities at both sub-seasonal and interannual annual timescales, with the future prospect of seamless climate forecasts for water system operations. While seasonal predictability is often very limited by physical and modeling constraints, harnessing additional predictable components of the climate system may in some cases substantially increase their usable information content, and provide more flexible forecasts in terms of the kinds of management decisions that can be informed. Here we present an example of combining season and year-ahead streamflow forecasts as input to a multi-use reservoir optimization model  Read the rest of the abstract.