mCenter Receives NSF Grant in Collaboration with CCNY

January 7, 2013 — The mCenter is pleased to announce the award of a Rapid research grant from the National Science Foundation, with the following investigators in collaboration with CCNY:

  • Jorge E. Gonzalez (Principal Investigator)
  • Reza Khanbilvardi (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Fred Moshary (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Michael Piasecki (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Mimi Sheller (Co-Principal Investigator)

RAPID: Understanding Sudden Hydro-Climatic Changes and Exploring Sustainable Solutions in the Enriquillo Closed Water Basin (Southwest Hispaniola)


Lake Enriquillo

The two largest lakes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are, respectively, the Saumatre and Enriquillo lakes, both of which are salt water lakes. Lake Enriquillo is at the lowest point in the Caribbean, and is within several miles of Lake Saumatre. Both lakes have been growing drastically in size over the past several years. The socio-economic impact of this growth of the lakes has been very dramatic. Since the lakes began their recent rapid growth, more than 15,000 hectares of agricultural and grass land around the lakes have been flooded, having a strong negative impact on 2,500 farms in 16 communities with total estimates of 10,000 individuals affected. Urgency to address this growth problem has risen sharply over the past few months due to the unprecedented water levels reached. Further, the Caribbean is in the midst of its tropical depression/hurricane season, a unique time for embarking on a research effort as the Lakes are responding to these extreme events in a unique fashion. The window is relatively short and if missed would require waiting an entire year to possibly get a similar weather pattern passing through the lakes region again. Meanwhile, the emergency resulting from floods will have worsened. The research plan integrates observations, integrated earth-system modeling and community engagement and is designed to lead to accelerated documentation of the causes of the growth and to support policy formulation for handling the consequences. The urgent questions in need of answers are: Through rapid monitoring and modeling, can the hypothesis be supported that a warming climate is impacting the overall hydro-balance of the lakes? How is this hydro-balance reflected in terms of lake volume and surface area? What may be the response of informed communities to the emergency presented by continuously expanding flood lands?

In relation to mobilities research the question of how communities adapt to climate change and disruptions caused by changing environmental conditions is very important. This project builds on previous research on post-earthquake Haiti, and also involves collaboration between engineers and social scientists.

For more information please contact Mimi Sheller, Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy,