State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Seeking Intern to Help Investigate Global Flood Risk

The Earth Institute seeks an intern for the “Progressing towards a global flood risk layer” project at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN).

The overarching objective of the flood risk project is to support the Sustainable Development Goals — in particular SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action). The project objective is to create a global flood hazard risk layer, to be included in a flood risk model, that incorporates exposure and social vulnerability that will be capable of capturing climate changes. This will support the mission of SEDAC, a NASA-funded data center,  to “develop and operate applications that support the integration of socioeconomic and earth science data and to serve as an information gateway between earth sciences and social sciences.”

The project goal is to produce a global flood layer that is fitting for humanitarian considerations. The intern will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the project and select a component of the model to analyze. This analysis could include, but is not limited to the spatial or temporal resolution of historical flood layers, reanalysis, or elevation inputs. The flood layer of risk exposure will be integrated with the vulnerability piece using the distribution of populations, building and infrastructure, and elevation data. The intended output of the internship will be an analysis that contributes to the overall goal of a flood risk product that supports the decision-making needs of humanitarian organizations. Ideally, the eventual product would be a SEDAC-hosted data layer included in a geospatial application to visualize levels of flood risk.

 Anticipated Tasks:

  1. Collaborate with CIESIN and IRI partners on hydrologic modeling methods that will be used to assess flood risk.
  2. Select a component or characteristic of the model to analyze the accuracy and granularity necessary to prove useful for specific decisions in the humanitarian space.
  3. Write a brief description of methods and results from the selected analysis.

Skills Required:

  • Experience with scientific modeling, preferably geophysical or hydrologic
  • Ability to work with geospatial data and apply analysis techniques
  • Experience and/or interest in disaster risk reduction, humanitarian operations and/or policy
  • Proficient in or willing to learn academic writing

 Type of Student Desired:

  • Graduate
  • PhD

To apply:

Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter stating their interest and qualifications to Carolynne Hultquist ( Applications will be accepted on rolling basis until October 5. The internship will take place remotely and is funded at a rate of $17 per hour for up to 10 hours a week for 12 weeks (a maximum of 120 hours during the semester). Full-time Columbia and Barnard students are eligible to apply.

Students who are awarded internships will be expected to participate in the Earth Institute Student Research Showcase in spring 2021.

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