Public Release: 

Earth Institute launches New York area climate change information portal

Can local planners use data to prevent disaster?

The Earth Institute at Columbia University

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On Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at the Earth Institute at Columbia will launch a new web portal providing comprehensive information on climate change in the New York Metropolitan area. The launch event will feature a presentation and panel discussion on Climate Change in the New York Metropolitan Region.

Climate Change in the New York Area: A regional look at global warming
When: Tuesday March 29, 2005, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Harison Room, Faculty House, Columbia University
Refreshments to follow

To RSVP for this event, please go online to For more information please contact Jennifer Mulvey, 845/365-8988 or

Panelists at the March 29 launch will include Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, who will talk about approaches to climate change in the context of the Earth Institute, New York, and global development; Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary to Governor Pataki, who will report on the progress and status of Governor Pataki's efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses produced by New York; and Peter Goldmark, Director of the Climate and Air Program at Environmental Defense and former President of the Rockefeller Foundation, who will relate New York's climate change issues to his recent involvement in the international adoption of the Kyoto Treaty and establishment of an international carbon trading regime among countries ratifying the treaty. A question and answer period will follow the panel discussion.

"Everyone has a stake in climate change," says Roberta Balstad Miller, Director of CIESIN. "Forward-thinking people can use this information to evaluate what needs to be done, and to invest in mitigation so that New Yorkers prepare for and avoid as much as possible the problems climate change and variability can cause." Investments in disaster prevention can be cheaper and more beneficial than those spent to clean up after a tragedy, a point that was reinforced by the recent Indian Ocean tsunami.

The website, which can be found at, guides visitors in plain language through a rich trove of information related to climate change. Discussions of the issues, issue briefs, links to independent data and studies, and other resources are presented in an easily accessible manner. The site is designed to be useful to all levels of readers, from climate experts to grade school students.

Known as the Climate Change Information Resource, New York Metropolitan Region (CCIR-NY for short), the project was developed over the past two years at the Earth Institute, under a grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), with the collaboration of Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia and Hunter College.

Project leaders included Dr. Roberta Balstad, Director of CIESIN, Christopher Lenhardt and Robert Downs, data specialists at CIESIN, Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia, and William Solecki, a professor of geography at Hunter College. Balstad, Rosenzweig, and Solecki previously collaborated on the New York section of a national assessment of climate impacts, published as Climate Change and a Global City.

The CCIR-NY website was created to be an information resource for policymakers, educators, and the general public on the impacts of climate change and variability in the tri-state New York metropolitan area, ways to adapt to expected change, and ways to limit their impacts in the future.

"The challenge this time was to make the data as accessible as possible for people who need to use this climate change information," said Christopher Lenhardt, a data specialist at CIESIN who helped engineer the site.

In creating the new website, CIESIN's data experts first assessed the information needs of urban policy makers, analyzing both the ways that they obtain and use information and the kinds of information that they take into account in their work. They gathered and organized existing climate forecast, policy, and scientific information. They also tried to anticipate how urban climate change information would be maintained and used in the future.

Early responses from those who use climate change data, such as New York State's environmental commissioner, have been very positive. As Balstad says, "People are clamoring for this type of information. We are pleased to be able to make it available."


The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world's leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines--earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences--and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world's poor. For more information, visit

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