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Blog Posts: mapping

  • Water Risk on the Rise

    This article first appeared in Project Syndicate

    Water is never far from the news these days. This summer, northern India experienced one of its heaviest monsoon seasons in 80 years, leaving more than 800 people dead and forcing another 100,000 from their homes. Meanwhile, Central Europe faced its worst flooding in decades after heavy rains swelled major rivers like the Elbe and the Danube. In the United States, nearly half the country continues to suffer from drought, while heavy rainfall has broken records in the Northeast, devastated crops in the South, and now is inundating Colorado.

    Businesses are starting to wake up to the mounting risks that water – whether in overabundance or scarcity – can pose to their operations and bottom line. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, experts named water risk as one of the top four risks facing business in the twenty-first century. Similarly, 53% of companies surveyed by the Carbon Disclosure Project reported that water risks are already taking a toll, owing to property damage, higher prices, poor water quality, business interruptions, and supply-chain disruptions.

    The costs are mounting. Deutsche Bank Securities estimates that the recent US drought, which affected nearly two-thirds of the country’s lower 48 states, will reduce GDP growth by approximately one percentage point. Climate change, population growth, and other factors are driving up the risks. Twenty percent of global GDP already is produced in water-scarce areas. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in the absence of more sustainable water management, the share could rise to 45% by 2050, placing a significant portion of global economic output at risk.

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  • Indonesia Burning: Forest Fires Flare To Alarming Levels

    Fires were ablaze once more on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, reaching levels almost as high as those of June 2013, when neighboring Singapore and Malaysia were smothered by record-breaking smog and haze. NASA satellites registered a total of 734 high-confidence fire alerts in Sumatra’s provinces for the period August 22-27. Fire alert numbers declined significantly August 28-29.

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  • Managing the Earth from Space: Satellite and Sensing Technology in Water Management

    WRI experts Betsy Otto, Charles Iceland, Tien Shiao, and Paul Reig will attend World Water Week in Stockholm next week. Among other activities, they’ll co-host a session on using satellite data to map global water risks. Here, Andrew Maddocks explores the role that satellite data can play in improving water management. Learn more about WRI’s World Water Week Activities.

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  • New Mapping Technology: Nova Scotia’s Powerful Ally in Protecting Valuable Forests

    The government of Nova Scotia announced an ambitious plan earlier this month to protect 245,000 hectares of forest and park land, establishing the Canadian province as a conservation leader in one of the world’s most heavily forested nations. Roughly 14 percent of all land in Nova Scotia will now be legally protected from development, making it the province with the second-highest percentage of land devoted to protected areas in Canada, after British Columbia.

    This news is significant for conservationists and for the vast number of Canadians who depend on these forests for clean air, water, and a bounty of other resources. It also illustrates a powerful truth: precise, science-based maps are an essential component of good forest management and planning.

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  • New Data Shows Indonesian Forest Fires a Longstanding Crisis

    Over the past few days, WRI has been tracking the location of forest and land fires on Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. In this update, WRI examines the historical trends of forest fires in Sumatra. Read our previous analysis.

    Bacalah posting blog dalam Bahasa Indonesia di sini

    Fires continue to burn in Indonesia, spreading haze and suffering across the country and into Malaysia and Singapore. New research from the World Resources Institute reveals troubling trends about the blazes:

    • The current fires are not beyond the normal historic range for fires in the region, but that may change as the fires continue to burn heavily.

    • The recent fires are part of a longstanding, endemic crisis of forest fires and land clearing in Indonesia, and bold action is needed to prevent the crisis from escalating.

    In this new analysis, WRI examines the historical trends of forest fires in Sumatra. Rapid analysis from WRI finds that the current forest fires observed in the Riau Province fit into a larger pattern of widespread forest and land fires. However, June 2013 is on track to be one of the worst months on record since 2001. Evaluation of recent wind patterns explains why the fires’ impact was felt so acutely in Singapore.

    WRI explored these trends using two key data sets:

    1. Historic fire alerts from NASA’s Active Fire Data, which shows fire alerts for the period of January 1, 2001 until the present.

    2. Information on air dispersion to Singapore derived from NOAA’s HYSPLIT model, which takes into account meteorological data and can be used to estimate the most likely path that air traveled to reach a particular location at a given time.

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  • WRI Merilis Data Terbaru Terkait Kebakaran Hutan Di Indonesia

    Cecelia Song, Andika Putraditama, Andrew Leach, Ariana Alisjahbana, Lisa Johnston, James Anderson dan ahli lainnya di WRI juga berkontribusi dalam artikel ini.

    Read this post in English here.

    Hari Jumat yang lalu, World Resources Institute (WRI) mempublikasikan data detil terkait lokasi peringatan titik api di Sumatera yang telah menyebabkan kabut asap yang sangat mengganggu dan berpotensi beracun di wilayah Indonesia, Singapura, dan Malaysia. Pemerintah ketiga negara, perusahaan-perusahaan, maupun media semua berlomba untuk mencari data untuk memahami penyebab dan lokasi sebaran titik api, serta memutuskan siapa yang seharusnya bertanggung jawab.

    Selama beberapa hari terakhir ini, WRI telah melacak lokasi sebaran kebakaran hutan dan lahan yang terjadi di Sumatera, sebuah pulau di bagian barat Indonesia. Dalam perkembangan terbaru ini, WRI menganalisis tren historis kebakaran hutan yang terjadi di Sumatera. Baca analisa sebelumnya.

    Analisis terbaru dari WRI menunjukkan adanya perkembangan sebaran peringatan titik api di Sumatera dari waktu ke waktu serta kaitannya dengan konsesi perusahaan. Dua data penting dalam analisis ini antara lain:

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  • Mengintip diantara kabut: Bagaimana data dapat membantu kita menyelidiki kebakaran di Indonesia

    WRI telah memperbarui data terkait kebakaran hutan di Indonesia. Baca artikelnya di sini.

    Cecelia Song, Andika Putraditama, Andrew Leach, Ariana Alisjahbana, Lisa Johnston, Jessica Darmawan, James Anderson dan ahli-ahli lainnya di WRI juga berkontribusi dalam artikel ini.

    Read this story in English here

    Penduduk di,Singapura, sebagian dari Indonesia dan Malaysia sedang mengalami kabut asap yang menganggu aktivitas sehari-hari akibat kebakaran hutan. Tingkat kualitas udara di Singapura telah jatuh ke tingkat terburuk yang pernah tercatat di pulau tersebut sedangkan bandara di Indonesia dan beberapa sekolah di Malaysia harus ditutup. Hampir semua kebakaran yang terjadi baru-baru ini (12-20 Juni) berasal dari titik api di Sumatera.

    Media massa banyak memuat debat sengit mengenai lokasi, sebab, dan sifat kebakaran. Saat ini WRI telah menyusun beberapa data awal yang menunjukkan beberapa pola menarik. Data awal menunjukkan kebakaran yang terjadi relatif sedikit di kawasan lindung dan konsesi penebangan. Lebih dari setengah dari peringatan titik api yang ditemukan terjadi pada hutan tanaman industri dan perkebunan kelapa sawit. Meskipun membakar hutan bagi perusahaan di Indonesia merupakan perbuatan ilegal, perusahaan di masa lalu telah diketahui menggunakan api untuk pembukaan lahan. Hal ini akan menjadi penting untuk mengumpulkan informasi lebih lanjut mengenai lokasi kebakaran dan penyebabnya. Informasi ini dapat memberi implikasi penting bagi perusahaan-perusahaan dan badan pemerintah yang terlibat.

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  • Peering Through the Haze: What Data Can Tell Us About the Fires in Indonesia

    WRI has released updated data on the fires in Indonesia. Read the story here.

    Cecelia Song, Andrew Leach, and other experts at WRI also contributed to this post.

    Bacalah posting blog dalam Bahasa Indonesia di sini

    People in Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of Malaysia are currently suffering from debilitating levels of haze resulting from forest fires. Air quality levels in Singapore have deteriorated to the worst levels ever recorded on the island, while local airports in Indonesia and some schools in Malaysia have had to close. Almost all of the recent fires (June 12-20) have occurred in Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia.

    While there’s been heated debate on the location, cause, and nature of the fires, WRI has compiled some initial data that reveals that there are some patterns. Relatively few fires have occurred in protected areas and selective logging concessions. Furthermore, half of the fires are burning on timber and oil palm plantations. Although it is illegal for companies in Indonesia to start forest or land fires, several companies have used fires for land clearing in the past. It will be important to gather more detailed information about the exact location of the fires and their causes, which could have important implications for the companies and government agencies involved.

    A Look Inside the Forest Fire Data

    WRI gathered information from NASA’s Active Fire Data, which uses satellite data to pinpoint the location of fires in near real time, together with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s concession maps for oil palm, logging concessions, and timber plantation licenses. We counted the number of NASA fire alerts in each concession in Indonesia and tabulated the results.

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  • Navigating the "Vast Sea of Unknowns" of Water Risk

    This piece was co-written with Dr. Larry Brilliant, president of the Skoll Global Threats Fund.

    This piece also appeared in McClatchy News and the Huffington Post.

    We know less about one of world's most pressing challenges today than we did 10 years ago. It's no secret that water - or the lack thereof - will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. And yet, the United Nations World Water Report, in 2009, stated that when it comes to water, "less is known with each passing decade."

    The World Economic Forum recently named the water supply crises as one of the top risks facing the planet - edging out issues like terrorism and systemic financial failure. Water risks permeate almost every aspect of global society. We got a taste last year with crops scorched by drought, shipping lanes threatened and energy plants shut down by low water levels, and coastlines devastated by flooding. Exacerbated by climate change and population growth, such crises will become more common and costly. Yet, the world largely lacks the data we need to monitor, understand, and respond to these water challenges. We are flying blind when it comes to global water issues.

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  • In the Face of Growing Risks, Every Day Is a World Water Day

    Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first World Water Day, an international celebration designed to draw attention to the importance of freshwater resources. However, for a large and growing proportion of the world’s population, every day is a World Water Day. Difficult, complex water challenges including drought, groundwater depletion, pollution, and clean drinking water availability are growing in urgency and seriousness all around the world. Some even argue that we should boycott World Water Day – that our water problems are too serious to try and confine to a single day.

    Although it’s true that we must keep water in mind during the other 364 days of the year, World Water Day can be useful. It helps raise awareness and serves as an annual reminder of the water problems we must collectively solve. Plus, picking a single theme – this year’s is cooperation – helps break down a very complex topic into more accessible, comprehensible pieces.

    In keeping with the theme of helping make complex issues more approachable and understandable, WRI is marking this year’s World Water Day by launching the first in a new series of videos we’re calling “What’s the Big Idea?” These brief videos will feature WRI staff members explaining some of the complex, global challenges we are working to understand and solve. Our first “What’s the Big Idea?” video explains the concept of water risk and the array of challenges it poses. We also highlight a potential solution: WRI’s Aqueduct mapping tool, which helps companies, investors, governments, and others better understand and manage their water risks.

    [youtube I80-UpaCsT8]

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