Education News

Fall 2009 Announcement of Climate Change Internships

2009-09-01

This fall semester the Earth Institute is offering Columbia students opportunities to work both on campus and throughout the city on climate change adaptation projects focusing on the New York Tri-State Region through the Earth Institute Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. Please see below for the descriptions of ten (10) internship opportunities. All positions pay $15 per hour and are typically 10 hours per week. Start and end dates are flexible. The deadline has passed and the information below is for archival purposes:

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1. Urban Natural Resources Reforestation Monitoring

Organization:   Natural Resources Group, NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation
Office Location:  Arsenal North, 1234 5th Ave (at 104th Street), NY, NY, 10029

PlaNYC Reforestation is one of 127 initiatives launched by Mayor Bloomberg on Earth Day 2007 to make New York City greener and greater by 2030. The reforestation initiative builds on the habitat and natural resource restoration work that NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Group (NRG) has been conducting since 1984. NRG has been conducting research and monitoring work on NYC's diverse array of habitats for almost 25 years. Long term monitoring data is essential for assessing the impact of climate change on New York City's grasslands, salt marshes, wetlands and forests.

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The Earth Institute intern would assist with research on the impact of urbanization and climate change on species diversity in New York City. The intern would assist in identifying, organizing and analyzing the relevant data in NRG's archives to assess trends in biodiversity over time, and assist in building a framework for continuing NRG's long term monitoring efforts.

The responsibilities of the intern would include:
• Identifying and organizing data in NRG's data archives
• Gathering data sets for specific parks or taxa and assist in their analysis
• Assist in the development of a data catalogue for long term monitoring
• Field data collection of long term monitoring data.

Skills Required:
• Undergraduate studies in ecology, forestry, botany, conservation biology, or a related subject
• Coursework or work experience in field data collection, study design, or monitoring
• Strong interest in urban ecology
• Excellent analytical and writing skills
• Ability to work independently
• Familiarity with MS Excel or other spreadsheet software required
• Familiarity with GPS data collection / GIS software preferred.
 
Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

2. Urban Forest Restoration Ecology Assessment

Organization:   Natural Resources Group, NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation
Office Location:  Arsenal North, 1234 5th Ave (at 104th Street), NY, NY, 10029

PlaNYC Reforestation is one of 127 initiatives launched by Mayor Bloomberg on Earth Day 2007 to make New York City greener and greater by 2030. The reforestation initiative builds on the forest restoration work that NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Group (NRG) has been conducting since 1984. PlaNYC Reforestation has increased the scale and scope of forest restoration in New York City, committing the City to forest 2,000 acres of public land by 2017. Expanding forested areas within New York City will help to improve environmental quality within the city today, and help us adapt to climate change in the future. Some of the expected benefits of reforestation include reduction of the urban heat island effect, improvement of air quality, reduction of stormwater surges, and improvement of species diversity and habitat quality within the City.

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The Earth Institute intern would assist with research and evaluation of urban forest restoration by collecting data at multiple forest restoration sites in New York City. The intern would assist in evaluating both current and historical restoration sites, and will also assist in gathering pre-restoration baseline data at sites identified for future plantings. The intern may also research and collect data on the carbon sequestration capacity of soils and woody plants in urban forests, and the impact of urban forest restoration on mitigating climate change. 

The responsibilities of the intern would include:
• Collect field data on species diversity, particularly of woody and herbaceous plant communities, soil samples, and environmental quality in and around the forest restoration site
• Data entry of field collected data into a spreadsheet
• Basic data summaries and analysis of field data.

Skills Required:
• Undergraduate studies in ecology, forestry, botany, conservation biology, or a related subject
• Coursework or work experience in field data collection, study design, or monitoring
• Strong interest in urban ecology
• Excellent writing skills
• Ability to work independently
• Familiarity with GPS data collection / GIS software preferred
 
Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

3. Using Geographical Information Systems to Assess Climate Change Impacts from Regional to Global Scales

Organization:   Center for Climate Systems Research, Earth Institute/Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Office Location:  504 Armstrong Hall

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Assist the climate impacts team in research, analysis, and presentation of climate change impacts from the local to global scales, with particular emphasis on the use of geographical information to determine fine-scale risk assessment and management.  Current projects include climate change studies of sea level rise, health, water resources, and infrastructure in New York City and New York State, water resources and agriculture in Florida and Central America, as well as agricultural production and food trade around the world.  We employ a variety of interdisciplinary models and work closely with stakeholders to identify vulnerabilities and develop flexible adaptation pathways.

Skills Required: Experience with ArcGIS Geographical Information Systems software, basic knowledge of climate change, ability to work in fast-paced team environment.
 
Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

4. Stakeholder Outreach in Developing Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Organization:   Center for Climate Systems Research, Earth Institute/Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Office Location:  514 Armstrong Hall

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Work with the project team on stakeholder interaction across three climate change adaptation projects at the city, state and international levels. We work frequently with both public and private stakeholders to identify climate variables and vulnerabilities, and develop flexible adaptation pathways.  The intern will help to: track communication, dialog and share information with stakeholders; document interactions and feedback; and help to integrate stakeholder comments in the project team's work.  The team's current projects include developing climate change adaptation plans for various sectors including infrastructure, ecosystems, health and coastal zones in New York City, New York State and in urban areas internationally, as well as climate impacts on agricultural production and food trade around the world.

Skills Required: Strong communication, organization and interpersonal skills; basic knowledge of climate change; ability to work in a fast-paced work environment.

Type of Student desired: Graduate

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

5. Projecting the Economic Benefits of Heat Adaptation in NY

Organization:   Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Office Location:  40 West 20th St., 11th floor, New York, NY 10011 (bet. 5th/6th Aves)

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: NRDC has frequently been asked about the economic benefits of investing now in climate change adaptation, especially in such challenging economic times. While many policymakers agree substantively with the idea of climate-health preparedness, they want to see convincing dollars-and-cents evidence that these are sound long-term investments. The internship we are proposing will quantify the relative economic costs of health-associated impacts from heat-related premature mortality and illnesses in the New York region, both in the present-day and projected for the future under a changing climate. The intern will also estimate "avoided future health costs" from adaptation strategies like heat-health alert systems, which will allow us to more accurately assess the scope of the health costs that can be potentially avoided in the future by investing in stronger climate-health preparedness today.

NRDC has already completed an economic analysis of hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with a 2006 California heat wave, which can serve as an example. The intern would work with NRDC scientists to research the scientific literature on heat mortality and morbidity in the New York region, locate specific climate model impacts projections for New York, apply relevant health economic analyses, and create a written report that estimates the health-associated costs of heat mortality and/or illnesses, under "with" versus "without-adaptation" assumptions.

Skills Required: Strong research and written communication skills; familiarity with the range of health impacts associated with global warming, and with the climate adaptation issues and planning. Experience working in public health and especially doing economic analyses would be a plus.

Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

6. New York City Water Quality

Organization:   Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Office Location:  401 Comer/905E Mudd

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Human populations are intimately tied to water resources, which provide numerous ecosystem services. Balancing the health, economic, and recreational pressures of waterfront/watershed development is challenging, especially with predicted population expansion of major urban centers and the uncertainties presented by global climate change. This project would look at measuring the natural ecosystem oxygen levels, contaminants and general health and water quality in New York City water bodies caused by human impacts. Instrument use and design, field work and data collection are some possible components of this project.

Skills Required: Project dependent: Data processing; Field work; Measurement system design and fabrication.

Type of Student desired:   Undergraduate or Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

7. Program in Climate and Health

Organization:   Program on Climate and Health, Mailman School of Public Health
Office Location:  60 Haven Ave., B-1, room 113

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Intern will work with Dr. Patrick Kinney to develop the launch strategy for the Program in Climate and Health at MSPH.  Tasks for which the intern will take responsibility may include: event planning and marketing, coordination of visiting lectures, web site content development, graphic design, writing of communications materials, and outreach to stakeholder organizations.

Skills Required: Strong writing and verbal skills.  Ability to work independently with regular but limited supervision.  Ability to meet project deadlines.

Type of Student desired:   Undergraduate or Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

8. Green Roofs: Urban Heat and Storm Water Mitigation

Organization:   Sustainable South Bronx
Office Location:  890 Garrison Ave. 4th Floor, Bronx, NY 10474

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: Researching and understanding how the use of green infrastructure specifically green roofs and green walls can affect climate change adaptation.  Research issues, trends, incentives, and implementation.  Develop research design on the combination of solar panels and green roof and document payback of local green projects to advocate increased construction of green roofs for environmental and economic benefits.

Skills Required: Excellent research, writing and communications skills, background on sustainability design, ecological science, project management, marketing, with general knowledge of Autocad, Word, Excel, Power Point

Type of Student desired:   Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

9. Health Impact Assessment of Hunts Point Land Use Policy

Organization:   Sustainable South Bronx
Office Location:  890 Garrison Ave. 4th Floor, Bronx, NY 10474

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks: The goal of this project is to investigate the public health impacts of integrating green infrastructure and recreational space into an existing industrial area.  Not only do we hope to elucidate the public health benefits of safe pedestrian and recreational areas but also the health benefits of and the potential for green infrastructure to mitigate urban heat island impacts.  The student will also have the opportunity to investigate the impacts of diet and recreation within a community which is underserved by recreational space and access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables.  

SSBX is looking for a student to assist in the research and analysis of existing HIA's (health impact assessments) and with the drafting of an HIA proposal.  The student will also be asked to assist in the research and implementation of HIA tools, surveying, mapping as well as interviewing community members and reporting out to partner community groups.

Skills Required: Independent and analytical, ability to communicate frequently and effectively a must.  A holistic thinker who can quickly and enthusiastically adapt to changes in details while keeping the big picture in focus. Spanish speaking a plus.

Type of Student desired: Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009

 

10. Assessing and coping with the risk of hurricane landfall in the NYC area

Organization:   DEES/APAM/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Office Location:  217 Mudd

Brief description of anticipated intern tasks:
1. Performing analysis of historical and synthetic data sets to evaluate the risk of hurricane strike on the NYC area, under present and future climate.
2. Researching the city's (and surrounding regions') emergency planning for hurricane strike, to assess whether opportunities exist for greater use of recent scientific advances.
The relative amount of effort placed into these two areas will depend on the student's interests and background.

Skills Required: Knowledge of basic college-level mathematics (at least a year of calculus) and some physical science.  Understanding of basic statistics and some ability to work with data on computers.  Interest in atmospheric science and/or the impacts of climate and weather on society.

Type of Student desired:   Undergraduate or Graduate     

Internship start date:   September 2009
Internship end date:     December 2009