The Avalon Lab

We harness the power of Earth Observation technologies to deliver scientific analysis and guidance to reduce risk, implement sustainable practices, and achieve resilience.

Current Projects

Increasing global environmental difficulties challenge humanity. Scientific, engineering, and open dialogue solutions, have the capacity to help us examine and plan our direction as a species living on this planet.

Urban Flooding

The problem: Urban flooding is a frequent problem affecting cities around the world. The problem is more significant now that the climate is changing and urbanization trends are increasing.

What are we doing: We are developing models and alert systems that can provide estimates of potential flood areas before the storm.

What for: To inform decision-makers about flooding areas, pavement maintenance, and social vulnerability potential in the affected areas.

Landslides

The problem: Landslides are among the most common disasters worldwide, frequently leading to considerable economic losses and fatalities. Landslide vulnerability has increased due to urbanization patterns over the past decades, given that at least half of the world’s urban occupants settle at the outskirts of cities at the base of unstable slopes.

What are we doing: We are conducting numerous studies in different geographical regions to develop rainfall thresholds, landslide probability indices, and spatiotemporal mapping of risk.

What for: We are teaming up with global entities (GEO, UNDRR) to help inform decision-makers about the importance and application of Earth Observations for the prevention of landslide impact.

Climate Change Resilience

The problem: Climate change brings significant disruptions to our way of living. The ability of a city to adapt to these changes can contribute immensely to its resilience.

What are we doing: We are working with The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and various experts to determine climate change projections, impacts and how NYS can prepare for those changes.

What for: To provide science and information that will allow decision- makers at all levels to make informed choices about their future.

Research

At the Avalon Lab, we see science as a process that requires innovation, passion, collaboration, and discovery. A process with the power to transform humanity’s reality and ensure our survival.

Wildfires Affiliation/collaboration: NASA GSFC – NASA DEVELOP APPLIED SCIENCES

Fires are driven by many different factors like weather conditions, topographic features, and fuels. In the case of the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, vegetation change is a very influential factor. To determine the relative risk of fire on the peninsula, this NASA Applied Sciences study incorporated some of these factors into a machine-learning algorithm that learns from previous fire events and predicts the probability of future ones.

Rainfall Triggered Landslide Hazards Affiliation/collaboration: Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Despite great advances in remote sensing technologies, accurate satellite information is sometimes challenged in tropical regions where dense vegetation prevents the instruments from retrieving reliable readings. We introduce a satellite-based landslide rainfall threshold for the country of Colombia by studying 4 years of rainfall measurements from The Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) for 346 rainfall-triggered landslide events. In the absence of satellite antecedent soil moisture data, this threshold helps describe the interactions between rainfall and slope angle. We name it, the Landslide Triggering Factor—LTF.

Environmental Sustainability Affiliation/collaboration: Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

How do we supply a world of unlimited wants with a planet of limited resources? Today, humans consume in nine months what the Earth produces in a year. Modern techno-scientific developments aid the inherent imperatives of economic systems where developed countries currently have an ecological footprint five times greater than developing nations. Nonetheless, as emerging economies join the consuming class, these consumption patterns will continue to grow. What is the solution then? Perhaps the underlying solution to ecological degradation and climate change is less pragmatic and more philosophical. It encompasses a deep examination of humanity’s values and direction as a species living on this planet. See more below.

Education

The Avalon lab addresses education and learning not as concepts or theories but as instruments for integral development. We define knowledge as a product of material, social, historical, cultural, and mental conditions that make possible the management, control, and prediction of physical, social, and individual phenomena. In the lab, we treat knowledge as the result of one process and the beginning of another.

Bio

Dr. C. Avalon Cullen - Lead Scientist - Physical Scientist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Earth, and Environmental Sciences at the City University of New York (CUNY). At GEO, she serves as a Co-Chair of the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Working Group 3 that investigates links between climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and the implementation of satellite observations to support disaster risk reduction and resilience efforts around the world. Currently, she is also a member of the Technical Working Groups advising the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment: Understanding and Preparing for Our Changing Climate.

News & Press

Please see our new developments, outreach, and media appearances below

Landsat imagery courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat

Contact

Cheila.Cullen@bcc.cuny.edu