As we continue to face unprecedented climate challenges that disrupt our ways of living, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is working to renew a global policy for space diplomacy – a policy that will hopefully help us maintain peace on earth while we build a truly global collaboration to address climate change. In this episode, we speak to Dr. Simonetta di Pippo, head of UNOOSA, about how this office is helping to address all the SDGs while simultaneously working on space diplomacy.
While scientists are building new remote sensing institutions in Costa Rica, others are growing the capacity of existing institutions in South Africa. Through her work with initiatives such as AfriGEOSS and Digital Earth Africa, Dr. Andiswa Mlisa has been working to put the power of space science and earth observation technology into the hands of South African citizens. Now, in her role as Managing Director: Earth Observations for the South African National Space Agency, the sky is truly the limit for empowering citizens and collaborating to tackle climate change challenges in South Africa.
With fires raging, permafrost thawing, urbanization increasing air pollution, and more, staying positive about the future of our planet can be challenging. But as the scientists in our previous episodes have demonstrated, there’s still hope yet. And in Costa Rica, a small country with a big dream of becoming the first carbon neutral country in the world, two researchers are pooling their collective knowledge and experience towards this goal. Dr. Alejandra Rojas González, associate professor at University of Costa Rica, focuses on flood mapping and water resources modeling. Dr. Melissa Rojas-Downing, Guest Lecturer at University of Costa Rica specializes in sustainable agriculture. Together, they hope to build a remote sensing lab in San Jose, which might just become Central America’s leading institution in remote sensing and climate change.
Similar to Arizona, Australia is no stranger to a hot, dry climate–one that sets a yearly stage for bushfire season. In 2019, Australia experienced one of its worst bushfire seasons to date, with fires consuming swaths of land, causing significant wildlife death, and even burning some of Australia’s remaining rainforest. That same year, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon rainforest experienced a longer dry season than normal. This resulted in a surge in fires that consumed over 17.5 million acres of land. In the face of ongoing global warming, how do we detect and address fire threats to prevent these catastrophes from happening again? In this episode, we speak with two researchers, Dr. Marta Yerba, Senior Lecturer in Environment and Engineering at Australian National University, and Dr. Ane Alencar, Science Director for Institute for Amazonian Environmental Research, to find some answers.
While arctic thaw is leading to soggier conditions up north, places like Arizona, USA are experiencing higher rates of drought. Due to a combination of human extractive activities alongside climate change, the Navajo Nation in particular has faced an increasing shortage of freshwater. In this episode, we speak with Ph.D student Nikki Tulley, also a member of the Navajo Nation, about her work using satellite data to study water quality, access, and drought in her home community, Blue Gap.
While human-produced emissions may have decreased during COVID, the levels of methane and carbon dioxide released by permafrost thaw in the Arctic continues unabated. But thawing permafrost doesn’t just impact our atmosphere. It also destabilizes the ground, causing real problems for the 30million+ people living in the permafrost zone. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Annett Bartsch, Founder and Managing Director of b.geos, an Earth Observation consultancy based in Austria. Through her work with ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Permafrost Project, Dr. Bartsch and others have used remote sensing to develop predictions into 2050 about permafrost thaw, which, if used wisely, can shift how communities respond to climate change in the arctic.
A major contributor to climate change that often increases with urbanization is air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills around seven million people every year. For us humans, it presents one of the most pressing public health problems in the world, and yet is one of the most neglected. Thankfully, the COVID-19 lockdowns helped spotlight this growing challenge by giving scientists like Dr. Shivangi S. Somvanshi an unprecedented opportunity to study the impact of human activity on air pollution. Her research sheds light on factors that can help reduce air pollution as the world begins to emerge from this pandemic.
By 2050, approximately 3 billion of the world’s population will live in cities, making urbanization – the population shift from rural to urban areas – the second-largest megatrend impacting life on our planet. What role does urbanization play in advancing climate change, and how does understanding urbanization trends help us mitigate climate change? In this episode, we speak to Dr. Tzu-Hsin Karen Chen, Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University's School of the Environment and one of the pioneers of the first deep learning method predicting 3-D urban structure information at 30m resolution across time. We discover how this work has allowed researchers to detect and learn from planning policies implemented by cities in the past, and the ways in which we can implement these learnings moving forward, to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities.
Welcome back to “Down to Earth”, a 30-minute podcast about innovative geoscience and the incredible people behind it. In Season 3, we take a deep dive into the ways in which scientists across the globe are helping us understand and address climate change. In the process, we dig into inspirations that sparked their novel scientific approaches, and the ways in which their personal experiences led them to their current work in the first place. Overall, Down to Earth is sure to become your quick and compelling catch-up on the people and the work in geoscience.
A key component of the scientific method is replicability. But how do scientists replicate research findings unless they have access to the data, methods, and systems used to generate the initial results? Enter, the Open Science Movement -- a push to make science more accessible, not just to other researchers, but to the general public as well. In this Episode, we speak to Dr. Kevin Murphy, Chief Science Data Officer of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, to learn about the Open Science Movement, its opportunities, and its challenges!