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Spatial Renderings of Urbanization and Exposures to Climate Hazards


Event Summary

Data visualization courtesy of Deborah Balk.

Understanding many of the processes at the intersection of the social sciences (demography, vulnerability, urbanization) and climate change (exposures to seaward hazards, droughts, heatwaves) requires fine-scale spatial information and methods that are interdisciplinary and scale-dependent. Analysis of these data occur with spatial and statistical frames, and results are typically reported in summary tables and figures. Maps help to explain methods but have lagged in being a useful tool for communication of research results to academic and policy audiences alike. Some of this shortcoming is intrinsic to the nature of the data, but other limitations arise from our expectations of visualizations themselves. At this talk, sponsored by the Visualization for Understanding and Exploration project (a partnership between the Neubauer Collegium and the Research Computing Center in the Office of Research and National Laboratories at the University of Chicago), Deborah Balk reflected on these challenges and consider ways to rethink what types of visualization are needed to improve our understanding of climate adaptation.

Deborah Balk is Professor of Public Affairs in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College; a member of the CUNY Graduate Center faculty in the sociology, public health and economics programs; and interim director of the CUNY Institute for Demographic Research.