Dr. Robert Alexander Emberson

Dr. Robert Alexander Emberson

  • ASSOCIATE RESEARCH SCIENTIST
  • Additional Roles: Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 301.614.5815
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 617
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BALTIMORE CO
  • Brief Bio

    I am part of the NASA Landslides research team, where my current research focus is to better understand and model the exposure and risk faced by human settlement due to landsliding. This is a globally pervasive hazard, but the risk associated with landslides remains poorly constrained at a global extent. The primary aim of my work is thus to better model the economic and social impacts of landsliding globally, and in near-real time, using satellite data.

    In addition to working on risk, I am also developing machine learning methods to better model spatial susceptibility to hazards, as well as working with end-users to find the best strategies to communicate hazard in rapidly developing disaster zones. As part of this work I have been collaborating with researchers at Columbia IRI to help provide landslide hazard analysis for the Rohingya refugee camps in Southern Bangladesh. 

    Research Interests

    Dynamic Soil Erosion Modelling

    I have recently begun work investigating the use of satellite data to estimate erosional soil loss from agricultural land around the world. Soil erosion poses a significant threat to sustainable food production over the next century, and my work will explore whether global estimates of soil degradation can benefit from regularly-updated satellite-based estimates, including using precipitation derived from IMERG rainfall products. This work is supported by a NASA New Investigator Program grant (2021).

    Landslide Exposure and Risk analysis

    Landslides pose persistent threats to people and infrastructure in mountainous regions. The GSFC landslides research team has developed a range of satellite-based methods to assess the hazard associated with landslides around the world, and my research focuses on how to extend those results to estimate the potential exposure of humans and buildings to this hazard. This cross-disciplinary research includes geomorphic analysis of landslide-prone regions as well as socio-economic datasets relating to the critically exposed assets.

    Positions/Employment

    12/2021 - Present

    Associate Research Scientist

    University of Maryland, Baltimore County, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    • PI, NASA New Investigator Program Grant: Improving Soil Erosion Monitoring using Earth Observations for Food Security
    • Contributing scientist for NASA HiMAT grant: Understanding Changes to Landslide Activity and Extreme Precipitation Over High Mountain Asia
    • Co-I NASA A.37 Disasters grant; developing and implementing near-real time global landslide exposure and risk assessment products
    9/2020 - 11/2021

    Associate Scientist

    USRA / NASA GSFC, Greenbelt
    • Contributing Scientist for NASA – Rio de Janeiro Government project to develop localized landslide exposure models
    • Co-I NASA SERVIR grant; landslide exposure estimates in the Lower Mekong area
    • Contributing Scientist for two (2) World Bank consortium projects to support landslide hazard and exposure estimates for Morocco, and landslide susceptibility analysis for the Arun Valley, Nepal.
    • Co-I NASA A.37 Disasters grant; developing and implementing near-real time global landslide exposure and risk assessment products
    8/2018 - 9/2020

    NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

    USRA / NASA Postdoctoral Program, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    • Developing global landslide risk assessment tools for disaster response & preparedness.
    • Led project alongside UN agencies to provide products to model real-time landslide risk in Rohingya refugee camps; communication of products to State Dept. & US Gov agency teams.
    • Supported landslide mapping and hazard assessment for recent rainfall disasters.
    7/2018 - Present

    Disaster Coordinator

    NASA GSFC, Greenbelt, MD
    • Leading disaster response activities to support multinational stakeholders with data provision and decision support during disaster events. Led event responses for multiple hurricane and rainfall driven disasters & served as agency point-of-contact.
    • Lead for NASA Disasters – World Food Program partnership to provide WFP with critical information during disaster
    6/2018 - 8/2018

    Visiting Scientist

    USRA / GESTAR, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    1/2017 - 5/2017

    Locum Associate Editor, Nature Geoscience

    Springer Nature, London
    9/2012 - 6/2016

    Junior Researcher

    GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany

    Education

    Doctoral Studies 2012-2016: University of Potsdam, Germany / GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. 
    Ph.D in Geochemistry / Geomorphology; final grade: Summa cum Laude
    Thesis title: Chemical Weathering Driven By Bedrock Landslides
    Submission date: September 2016, Defended: December 5th 2016
    Advisors: Prof. Niels Hovius (GFZ / University of Potsdam), Prof. Albert Galy (CRPG-CNRS, France)

    MSci (Hons) 2011-2012: Geological Sciences, University of Cambridge, St John's College

    BA (Hons) 2008-2011: Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, St John's College. 

     

    Professional Service

    American Geophysical Union, Natural Hazards Section webmaster (2019-present) & member of Early Career advisory group (2020-present)

    Member of NASA GSFC Earth Sciences Early/Mid Career Working Group, to advocate for junior colleagues. (2019-2021)

    Awards

    NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2018

    Michelson Preis: Awarded for best thesis, Science/Mathematics, University of Potsdam 2016/2017

    Grants

    12/01/2021 - 12/01/2024 NASA New Investigator Program, NASA
    PI

    Publications

    Refereed

    Emberson, R., D. B. Kirschbaum, P. Amatya, H. Tanyas, and O. Marc. 2022. "Insights from the topographic characteristics of a large global catalog of rainfall-induced landslide event inventories." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 22 (3): 1129-1149 [10.5194/nhess-22-1129-2022]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, T. Stanley, P. Amatya, and S. Khan. 2021. "Satellites Support Disaster Response to Storm-Driven Landslides." Eos, 102: [10.1029/2021eo161725]

    Stanley, T. A., D. B. Kirschbaum, G. Benz, et al. R. A. Emberson, P. M. Amatya, W. Medwedeff, and M. K. Clark. 2021. "Data-Driven Landslide Nowcasting at the Global Scale." Frontiers in Earth Science, 9: [10.3389/feart.2021.640043]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2021. "Global connections between El Nino and landslide impacts." Nature Communications, 12 (1): 2262 [10.1038/s41467-021-22398-4]

    Bufe, A., N. Hovius, R. Emberson, et al. J. K. Rugenstein, A. Galy, H. J. Hassenruck-Gudipati, and J.-M. Chang. 2021. "Co-variation of silicate, carbonate and sulfide weathering drives CO2 release with erosion." Nature Geoscience, 14 (4): 211-216 [10.1038/s41561-021-00714-3]

    Emberson, R. A., D. B. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2021. "Landslide Hazard and Exposure Modelling in Data‐Poor Regions: The Example of the Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh." Earth's Future, 9 (2): [10.1029/2020ef001666]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2020. "New global characterisation of landslide exposure." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 20 (12): 3413-3424 [10.5194/nhess-20-3413-2020]

    Ward, P. J., V. Blauhut, N. Bloemendaal, et al. J. E. Daniell, M. C. de Ruiter, M. J. Duncan, R. Emberson, S. F. Jenkins, D. Kirschbaum, M. Kunz, S. Mohr, S. Muis, G. A. Riddell, A. Schäfer, T. Stanley, T. I. Veldkamp, and H. C. Winsemius. 2020. "Review article: Natural hazard risk assessments at the global scale." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 20 (4): 1069-1096 [10.5194/nhess-20-1069-2020]

    Emberson, R., A. Galy, and N. Hovius. 2018. "Weathering of Reactive Mineral Phases in Landslides Acts as a Source of Carbon Dioxide in Mountain Belts." Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 123 (10): 2695-2713 [10.1029/2018jf004672]

    Emberson, R., A. Galy, and N. Hovius. 2017. "Combined effect of carbonate and biotite dissolution in landslides biases silicate weathering proxies." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 213: 418-434 [10.1016/j.gca.2017.07.014]

    Emberson, R., N. Hovius, A. Galy, and O. Marc. 2016. "Oxidation of sulfides and rapid weathering in recent landslides." Earth Surface Dynamics, 4 (3): 727-742 [10.5194/esurf-4-727-2016]

    Emberson, R., N. Hovius, A. Galy, and O. Marc. 2015. "Chemical weathering in active mountain belts controlled by stochastic bedrock landsliding." Nature Geoscience, 9 (1): 42-45 [10.1038/ngeo2600]

    Burtin, A., N. Hovius, D. T. Milodowski, et al. Y.-G. Chen, Y.-M. Wu, C.-W. Lin, H. Chen, R. Emberson, and P.-L. Leu. 2013. "Continuous catchment-scale monitoring of geomorphic processes with a 2-D seismological array." Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 118 (3): 1956-1974 [10.1002/jgrf.20137]

    Brief Bio

    I am part of the NASA Landslides research team, where my current research focus is to better understand and model the exposure and risk faced by human settlement due to landsliding. This is a globally pervasive hazard, but the risk associated with landslides remains poorly constrained at a global extent. The primary aim of my work is thus to better model the economic and social impacts of landsliding globally, and in near-real time, using satellite data.

    In addition to working on risk, I am also developing machine learning methods to better model spatial susceptibility to hazards, as well as working with end-users to find the best strategies to communicate hazard in rapidly developing disaster zones. As part of this work I have been collaborating with researchers at Columbia IRI to help provide landslide hazard analysis for the Rohingya refugee camps in Southern Bangladesh. 

    Publications

    Refereed

    Emberson, R., D. B. Kirschbaum, P. Amatya, H. Tanyas, and O. Marc. 2022. "Insights from the topographic characteristics of a large global catalog of rainfall-induced landslide event inventories." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 22 (3): 1129-1149 [10.5194/nhess-22-1129-2022]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, T. Stanley, P. Amatya, and S. Khan. 2021. "Satellites Support Disaster Response to Storm-Driven Landslides." Eos 102 [10.1029/2021eo161725]

    Stanley, T. A., D. B. Kirschbaum, G. Benz, et al. R. A. Emberson, P. M. Amatya, W. Medwedeff, and M. K. Clark. 2021. "Data-Driven Landslide Nowcasting at the Global Scale." Frontiers in Earth Science 9 [10.3389/feart.2021.640043]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2021. "Global connections between El Nino and landslide impacts." Nature Communications 12 (1): 2262 [10.1038/s41467-021-22398-4]

    Bufe, A., N. Hovius, R. Emberson, et al. J. K. Rugenstein, A. Galy, H. J. Hassenruck-Gudipati, and J.-M. Chang. 2021. "Co-variation of silicate, carbonate and sulfide weathering drives CO2 release with erosion." Nature Geoscience 14 (4): 211-216 [10.1038/s41561-021-00714-3]

    Emberson, R. A., D. B. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2021. "Landslide Hazard and Exposure Modelling in Data‐Poor Regions: The Example of the Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh." Earth's Future 9 (2): [10.1029/2020ef001666]

    Emberson, R., D. Kirschbaum, and T. Stanley. 2020. "New global characterisation of landslide exposure." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 20 (12): 3413-3424 [10.5194/nhess-20-3413-2020]

    Ward, P. J., V. Blauhut, N. Bloemendaal, et al. J. E. Daniell, M. C. de Ruiter, M. J. Duncan, R. Emberson, S. F. Jenkins, D. Kirschbaum, M. Kunz, S. Mohr, S. Muis, G. A. Riddell, A. Schäfer, T. Stanley, T. I. Veldkamp, and H. C. Winsemius. 2020. "Review article: Natural hazard risk assessments at the global scale." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 20 (4): 1069-1096 [10.5194/nhess-20-1069-2020]

    Emberson, R., A. Galy, and N. Hovius. 2018. "Weathering of Reactive Mineral Phases in Landslides Acts as a Source of Carbon Dioxide in Mountain Belts." Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 123 (10): 2695-2713 [10.1029/2018jf004672]

    Emberson, R., A. Galy, and N. Hovius. 2017. "Combined effect of carbonate and biotite dissolution in landslides biases silicate weathering proxies." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 213 418-434 [10.1016/j.gca.2017.07.014]

    Emberson, R., N. Hovius, A. Galy, and O. Marc. 2016. "Oxidation of sulfides and rapid weathering in recent landslides." Earth Surface Dynamics 4 (3): 727-742 [10.5194/esurf-4-727-2016]

    Emberson, R., N. Hovius, A. Galy, and O. Marc. 2015. "Chemical weathering in active mountain belts controlled by stochastic bedrock landsliding." Nature Geoscience 9 (1): 42-45 [10.1038/ngeo2600]

    Burtin, A., N. Hovius, D. T. Milodowski, et al. Y.-G. Chen, Y.-M. Wu, C.-W. Lin, H. Chen, R. Emberson, and P.-L. Leu. 2013. "Continuous catchment-scale monitoring of geomorphic processes with a 2-D seismological array." Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 118 (3): 1956-1974 [10.1002/jgrf.20137]

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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