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Cutting Risk as COVID-19 and a Cyclone Collide

May 18, 2020
DESCRIPTION: “Compound risk” sounds technical but is a fact of life in disaster hot spots worldwide in this pandemic year. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting life even as “normal” disasters loom, there’s an urgent need for scientists, media and communities to work together to help communities boost resilience.

A case study is developing in real-time in the Bay of Bengal, a region where the coronavirus is already most threatening the displaced and deeply poor even as a powerful cyclone, Amphan, is projected to slam the coast between easternmost India and Bangladesh this week. Massive refugee camps and informal settlements in the region create enormous exposure and vulnerability.

But the impact need not be utter calamity. A key is getting the right data to the right people in the right way. This includes the media. On Monday, the Sustain What webcast at Columbia University’s Earth Institute will link top climate and resilience experts focused on South Asia with journalists facing forecasts of a dangerous cyclone.

The Columbia experts include Adam Sobel, a climate scientist who was the lead author of a recent report on Improving Lead Time for Tropical Cyclone Forecasting in Bangladesh; Mélody Braun, who focuses on climate risk reduction and related financial strategies; Nachiketa Acharya, a climate scientist working on seasonal extreme-weather forecasts and planning; and Andrew Kruczkiewicz, who works to boost the value of remote-sensing environmental data for humanitarian and emergency-response agencies.

The webcast is hosted by Columbia University’s Earth Institute Initiative on Communication & Sustainability, with scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and International Research Institute for Climate and Society, working with Bangladesh’s weather service and NASA.

The event is arranged with outreach assistance by the Earth Journalism Network.