Ana Paula Cunha, CEMADEN, Brazil


Developing Applied Research in the Context of Reduction Risk Disaster in Brazil

The National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters – CEMADEN is a Brazilian federal organization linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations whose mission is to conduct research and technological innovations that contribute to the improvement of its early warning system and to monitor hydrometeorological hazards in Brazilian municipalities which are susceptible to natural disasters (Landslides, Floods and Droughts). The monitoring includes all the observational network (weather, climate, hydrology, remotely sensed data), including radars and automatic stations and geosensors. 


In the context of Drought Monitoring and Research, CEMADEN, through its Drought Monitoring system, assesses the impacts of droughts in strategic activities in Brazil as well as assists government institutions and decision-makers with information regarding impacts associated with extremes of weather and climate. The Drought Monitoring System considers several drought indices: SPI, SPEI, soil moisture from CEMADEN’s observational network, evapotranspiration, drought indexes based on remote sensing, and streamflow data from different institutions. 


Dr. Ana Paula Cunha is researcher at the National Center for Monitoring and Early Warning of Natural Disasters (CEMADEN). She has been leading research related to drought monitoring and its impacts on Brazil.  Among other studies, she has also been developing research in Drought Risk Assessment focusing on smallholder agriculture. Since 2016, she is a member of the Management Committee of Programa Garantia-Safra (Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply - MAPA). Since 2019, she is Professor in the Post Graduate Programme at Natural Disasters, UNESP/CEMADEN, Brazil.

Sebastian Doetterl, ETHZ, Switzerland


Nature based solutions for climate mitigation in the Global South: When missing understanding for tropical plant-soil interactions meets socio-economic reality

Using soils as a nature based solution to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions produced by industrial countries has been growing in popularity in recent years due to the lack of progress in transforming our economies towards carbon neutrality and net zero CO2 release while the climate crisis intensifies. Many of our expectations in finding nature based solutions are situated in vast, less developed - but nevertheless populated – regions of the global south. However, concepts and assumptions about which solutions work for increasing carbon capture in natural ecosystems are based on knowledge gathered from the global north in often fundamentally different environmental settings.  Similarly, soils in earth system models are often not represented mechanistically, but rather given a mostly budgetary “black box” function. No methodological framework is available that accounts for the combined effects of climate, geochemistry and disturbance on soil dynamics at larger scales in the Tropics, and therefore the differences and diversity of tropical soils are not accounted for. 


In my talk I will illustrate how these knowledge gaps and our lack of understanding of tropical soils may mislead us into thinking that we can find easy solutions in the Tropics to mitigate climate change. I will highlight how the interactions of weathering and disturbance can influence and dominate biogeochemical cycles in soils and discuss some directions where geochemical proxies that are available at the global scale can be useful for improving the spatial and temporal representation of carbon storage and turnover. I will pair this analysis with an outlook on the socioeconomic drivers that drive land use change, particularly in the African Tropics.


Sebastian Doetterl is an Assistant Professor for Soil Resources at ETHZ and group leader of the DFG funded Emmy Noether research group TROPSOC. His interests focus on the connections and feedbacks between different environmental cycles in soils (C-N-P Dynamics) and how human activities and Global Change influence these cycles and soils as a resource.

Alison Heppenstall & Nick Malleson, Universities of Glasgow & Leeds, United Kingdom


Simulating social systems with individual- based models: are they worth it? 

Over the past 15 years, the popularity of individual-based modelling approaches has rapidly grown. This can be attributed to a number of factors including increased computational power, the availability of rich individual-level data and the appearance of development tools. The appeal of these models lies in their ready ability to simulate heterogeneous individuals and their behaviour. However, handling behaviour and calibrating/validating these models remain evergreen challenges. Is the effort that is required to create and evaluate these models worth it? This talk will introduce individual-based models and uses a number of examples to walk through the pros and cons of this approach.



Alison Heppenstall is Professor of Geocomputation within the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, and an Alan Turing Fellow.  Prior to joining Glasgow, she was a Professor of Geocomputation in the School of Geography at University of Leeds and an associate of Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA). She is an expert in the development of spatial agent-based models (ABMs) with a focus on understanding and simulating behavior. Her current interests are concerned with linking ABMs to artificial intelligence and machine learning methodologies, the role of Big Data in creating more robust ABMs, and the application of ABMs to understanding the impact of sustainability policies on health inequalities.


Nick Malleson is a Professor of Spatial Science at the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy at the School of Geography, University of Leeds. His research is interdisciplinary and centers on the development and application of spatiotemporal computational models in the social sciences, with a particular focus on crime simulation and modelling. More recently, he has been conducting research that explores the nature of massive “crowd-sourced” data in the social sciences and related modelling approaches. More information about this work can be seen at: