S6 Sources of Environmental Risk to Human Populations Across the Caribbean: Potential Use of Remote Sensing

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Milica Jevtic, NOAA-CREST, New York, NY; and C. J. Vorosmarty

To support the well-being of the society, people rely on the environment for wide variety of resources and services, among which are those that provide protection from climate extremes and other natural hazards. Degraded ecosystems and loss of such services can have catastrophic effects on humanity. In order to prevent damage and loss, timely response is necessary when extreme weather and hazardous events occur, and, therefore, reliable monitoring, early warning, and strategic planning systems are needed. To do so requires first an identification of the critical geophysical and socioeconomic sources of environmental risk to human populations. In our study we focus on the Caribbean region and analyze more than 80 variables over the period from 1968 to 2011. Systematic linear and multiple linear regression analyses have shown that a combination of both physical and social science variables results in the highest risk and that areas where ecosystems are stressed are subject to higher threats. We have identified the critical components of risk: population density, GDP, forest area, permanent cropland and average yearly precipitation as the best indicators of potential damage. These variables hold the potential for being monitored through high resolution satellite imagery and data and we explore its potential use in the strategic planning context of weather-related hazards reduction.
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