In addition to the individual faculty participating in the formal Advisory Committee, the Initiative serves to bring together faculty, scientists and students from across the University. These include the following units:
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) seeks fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world and studies the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere. LDEO scientists study the climate system and the impact of its variability and change on human activity as well as the hazards associated with climate and weather extremes. They also study the dynamics of the solid earth, seeking to understand the hazards due to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and tsunamis.
Few research institutions in the world share Lamont-Doherty’s extraordinary mix of observational, analytic, and technical expertise across such a wide range of fields. For the past 60 years, seismologists, climatologists, geochemists, biologists, and geologists – many of whom are winners of prestigious international awards or members of the National Academies – work side-by-side to decipher the dynamic processes that shape the ever-changing natural world. Three of its scientists, for example, are laureates of the Vetlesen Prize, considered to be the earth sciences’ equivalent of a Nobel. The fundamental knowledge Lamont Doherty’s scientists develop about Earth’s dynamics is key to addressing our biggest challenges, including the accelerating threats of weather and climate extremes.
The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (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. CIESIN’s mission is to provide access to and enhance the use of information worldwide, serving the needs of science and public and private decision making.
CIESIN was a pioneer in developing and providing interactive data access and mapping tools via the Internet. Today it implements innovative approaches to data identification, access, visualization, and analysis across distributed data systems. Its work spans developing global and regional information systems, creating innovative decision-support tools, and providing training and technical support services. A wide range of pressing environmental issues require the integration of natural and social science data and information at which CIESIN excels. Its partnerships with organizations in biodiversity, environment and security, environmental sustainability, population-environment research, global mapping and database development, and remote-sensing applications are invaluable to the new Center, as are its staff proficiency in software development, systems integration, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, metadata and information management, and database design.
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences contains multiple departments with relevant expertise including the physical science behind floods and hurricanes (Earth and Environmental Engineering, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics), infrastructure (Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics), and risk analytics, including financial networks and supply chain dynamics (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research).
The School of Engineering strongly complements expertise that Lamont Doherty and CIESIN bring to the new Center. Its Global Flood Initiative, for example, helps policymakers, financial institutions, infrastructure designers, disaster relief agencies, and others better prepare for, manage, and respond to extreme floods with projects in the northeastern region of the U.S., the Everglades, India, Mali, Ethiopia, and Brazil. The Initiative takes a comprehensive, end-to-end approach to managing extreme flood impacts—an approach that integrates short- to long-term climate forecasting, reservoir design and operations, land use considerations, disaster preparedness, and response along with new insurance and other financial instruments to help the most economically vulnerable.
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is linked to Columbia through The Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR), and the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, provides an enhanced understanding of the Earth’s climate sensitivity and variability, as well as the forcing and feedback mechanisms that control them. The center is especially concerned with the role of the physical, chemical and physiological components of the past, present, and future climate system with a focus on long-term climate changes that have the potential to impact human populations and environmental stability.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual home to relevant departments including Earth and Environmental Sciences, Statistics, and Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. All faculty members of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences are also affiliated with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), whose mission is to enhance society’s capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The IRI conducts this mission through strategic and applied research, education, capacity building, and by providing forecasts and information products with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnership. IRI emphasizes quantifying climate risk and developing tools to help in decision-making during planning for and response to the impact on society.
The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), which houses experts examining critical public policy challenges facing the global community, and serves as home to eight transnational, issue-based centers and institutes.
The Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) is an interdisciplinary center that studies individual and group decision making under climate uncertainty and environmental risk and that promotes improved communication and increased use of scientific information on climate variability and change. In a collaborative effort with the University of Miami and University of Pennsylvania. CRED developed, validated and applied STORMVIEW and HAZSIM, simulation tools which test responses to different forms of hazard warnings. CRED also uses social media data to study hazard response.
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law develops legal techniques to address climate change, trains students and lawyers in their use, and provides up-to-date resources on key topics in climate law and regulation. The center is both a partner to and resource for public interest legal institutions engaged in climate change work and addresses a critical need for the systematic development of legal techniques to facilitate action on preparedness and adaptation to climate change outside of the realm of judicial litigation.
The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) carries out research that helps us prepare for, respond to, and recover from large-scale disasters — including hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear accidents, pandemic flu, and terrorist attacks. NCDP’s approach combines research, policy work, education, and high level advocacy to ensure that the best thinking — and best practices — become part of our national disaster preparedness and recovery work.
The Columbia Water Center creatively tackles water challenges of a rapidly changing world where water and climate interact with food, energy, ecosystems and urbanization. The Center’s Global Floods Initiative aims to save lives and protect livelihoods by helping policymakers, disaster relief agencies, infrastructure designers, financial institutions and others better prepare for, manage and respond to extreme floods. Our scientists are working together to better understand the structure and predictability of specific climate factors that lead to extreme floods, especially in an era of human-caused climate change. Such an understanding is an important step toward making global forecasts that could be used for risk mitigation.
The Global Flood Initiative is also looking at supply chain risk and portfolio risk associated with the persistent and concurrent impacts of floods across the world. Its goal is to map and mitigate supply chain risk arising in different areas of the supply chain (e.g., production, labor sourcing, transportation, pollution impacts, and wholesale/retain distribution), considering supply chains that may be distributed within a country as well as across many countries. Portfolio risk in the flood context refers to two main areas – risk associated with multiple floods in multiple locations, and also cascading failures through infrastructure systems and supply chains.
The Center on Global Energy Policy provides independent, balanced, data-driven analysis to help policymakers navigate the complex world of energy. They approach energy as an economic, security, geopolitical, and climate concern. And they draw on the resources of a world-class institution, faculty with real-world experience, and a location in the world’s financial and media capital. For more information on the Center, including research, events and other programs, please visit the Center’s website.
The Center for Research on Environmental Decisions is an interdisciplinary center that studies individual and group decision making under climate uncertainty and decision making in the face of environmental risk. CRED’s objectives address the human responses to climate change and climate variability as well as improved communication and increased use of scientific information on climate variability and change. In addition to advancing fundamental theory in psychology, behavioral economics, and other social science disciplines, CRED researchers work on integrated field projects around the world, where decision science is brought to bear on sustainable development challenges in such settings as agricultural decisions and water management.
The Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) identifies, shares, and researches solutions for a rapidly urbanizing world. CURE redefines sustainability as dense, mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-based urban development. From climate change and energy dependence to the socioeconomic and political upheaval they engender, CURE addresses emerging and current global issues through the lens of urbanization. The Climate Adaptive Development initiative within CURE advances research in private sector adaption in the real estate, finance and insurance sectors as it relates to the maintenance and development of the built environment and its co-dependent urban systems. This critical adaptation research has also been operationalized for the design and management of buildings through foundational theoretical research which serves as the framework for emerging national protocol, as well as developments in analytical design utilizing cutting edge modeling in life cycling and financial analysis. At the organizational and institutional scales, CURE’s research has synthesized applied decision science, management and finance methodologies to frame a new set of asset classes and instruments which support the proliferation of risk mitigating, resilient and/or adaptive infrastructure and buildings. At the regional scale, applied research has been extended to help guide regional planning efforts which are inclusive of a variety of actors and interests ranging from commercial to civic. From across these varied scales, CURE is setting the stage for bridging the science, policy and commercial domains in collectively addressing climate change.
The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation is committed to giving material form and organization to advances in sustainability, resilience and adaptation through exploratory and transdisciplinary pedagogies which give reference to a variety of human and natural ecologies. As an international leader in architectural and design education, GSAPP has been at the forefront of addressing a variety of modes of global change from social inequality to environmental degradation. By conceptualizing resilience and adaptation along a continuum of social, environmental and physical scales, GSAPP is positioned to be a critical contributor to a larger dialogue on the material and human components of climate change.