Geospatial and the great challenge of climate change

Director of the NGA Navy Vice Adm. Frank Whitworth speaks with Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello at the Geo-Resolution Conference. Image courtesy NGA.

Eexperts in geospatial information, public health, human migration, and water, energy, and food systems gathered at the Geo-Resolution Conference at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, USA, on September 28 to discuss the effects of climate change and how geospatial technology can be used to better understand and mitigate impacts.

The conference was co-hosted by the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and Saint Louis University. Approximately 450 people attended the conference in person; approximately 350 other people participated virtually around the world.

At the conference, ESRI Founder and CEO Jack Dangermond said humans are at a “deep moment” in history and that humans’ work to fight climate change is “the most important to the planet”.

“It’s going to take all of us – our best science, our best technology, our best design thinking, to figure this out,” Dangermond said.

The director of the NGA, the vice admiral of the navy. Frank Whitworth, said that because climate change has been the subject of much debate, the NGA has “a special responsibility” to ensure that the data provided by the NGA on climate change is accurate, to establish the trust with the scientific community and the public as the United States begins to address the challenges that come with climate change.

Michael C. Morgan, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), echoed the need for a “common understanding” of trust in data. on climate change.

Morgan also said NOAA’s ability to take effective action to combat climate change depends on access to and plans based on geospatial data and many other forms of data.

A “fusion of knowledge” created by all kinds of data – and fueled by the experts who collect, distill and explain the data – can provide people with the understanding needed to solve complex problems related to climate change, says Anthony Nguy-Robertson from the NGA, a research and development researcher, during a panel on the impacts of freshwater access and supply due to climate change.

Andrew Hayden, principal of NGA College, also emphasized the value of a diverse workforce during a panel on developing geospatial talent.

“The world is complex,” he said. “NGA needs a diversity of thought to answer questions from different approaches and perspectives and ‘propose new questions that we haven’t anticipated yet.’

Hayden said exposure to GIS and other geospatial technologies early in a student’s college career helps introduce students to geospatial career opportunities.

He also said curiosity is a common trait of the agency’s top geospatial analysts, and when a student can combine natural curiosity with geospatial exposure early on, it’s a winning recipe for a successful and rewarding career. to the NGA and for the success of the agency.

“Make it real for them,” he said. “Make them excited to discover their world.”

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Teresa H. Sadler