George Mason and UN to Share Natural Disaster Prevention Data (Aug. 31, 2005)

Posted: August 31, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

New technology that will facilitate early identification of oncoming natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and fires has led to a cooperative agreement between the United Nations and George Mason to provide and share high-quality global environmental data with other countries.

UN agreement signing
Klaus Toepfer, United Nations under secretary-general and executive director of UNEP, left, and Alan Merten, George Mason president, signed an agreement on Aug. 30.
Creative Services photo

As part of the agreement signed Aug. 30, George Mason and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will share regional, continental and global environmental information. This includes remote sensing data on the Earth that is analyzed by Mason’s Center for Earth Observing and Space Research (CEOSR) in the School of Computational Sciences.

Faculty at CEOSR will provide ongoing data and analysis on earthquake predictability, dust storm modeling, tropical storms, floods, droughts and forest fires, all of which afflict millions of people throughout the world. In addition, a “real-time” system for global hazards information being developed at CEOSR will support the UNEP’s mission to prevent environmental risks to humanity.

“This is a very exciting and timely partnership,” says university President Alan Merten. “Given the rising number of worldwide natural disasters, including last year’s devastating tsunami, it is important that the United Nations have all the information possible. In turn, the UN can provide impacted areas with assistance and leadership. Mason is proud to be part of this effort.”

Klaus Toepfer, United Nations under secretary-general and executive director of UNEP, praised the university for its support. Known internationally for his personal commitment to promote environmental and sustainable development, Toepfer says he is impressed with Mason’s outstanding research in the area of global hazards.

According to Menas Kafatos, dean of the School of Computational Sciences, and Guido Cervone, research scientist at CEOSR, this new partnership also includes training, cooperative research and exchanges of technical information.

“The frequency and magnitude of natural disasters worldwide might be increasing due to global change,” says Kafatos. “Therefore, it is imperative to provide international policy makers with the latest information to help better understand what is going on, and hopefully, identify effective ways to prevent disasters from occurring.”

The School of Computational Sciences and CEOSR are committed to undergraduate and graduate education and research that promotes state-of-the-art approaches in such areas as Earth observing, computational modeling, advanced data sciences, natural hazards and climate research.

The primary function of UNEP is to assess the state of the global environment and global and regional trends, provide warning of environmental threats and promote international cooperation and action.

Posted Aug. 31, 2005

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