Building climate resilience to protect lives and ecosystems

Climate change affects the average temperature and weather patterns that define Earth's local, regional and global climates. Some climate change is natural — but for the last few centuries, humans have been too much of a driving force behind climate change, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels.

St. Cloud State University alumna Dr. Tashiana Osborne is working to change that.

Osborne is climate change advisor with the United States Agency for International Development, via ZemiTek, LLC. Based out of Washington, D.C., she focuses on sustainable development in African countries — specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. She works with overseas missions to find areas of alignment with climate action — thinking about activities that can either help with adapting to climate change and building climate resilience, or reducing emissions or capturing emissions in some way that helps mitigate the problem the world is currently facing.

Dr. Tashiana Osborne standing in front of the Reflection Pool and Washington Monument in Washington D.C.“Climate change in general is something that’s really important to me to focus on and to find activities that can address climate change problems or help people adapt, because we don’t have a lot of time,” Osborne said. “There is a devastatingly large number of people and ecosystems that are already suffering as a result of increases in temperature that also are affecting weather and water extremes, having impact on pretty much every sector — like health, peace and democratic governance, education, agriculture — pretty much everywhere across the board.”

For example, higher temperatures in some areas are leading to more mosquitoes, resulting in those regions experiencing a higher risk for vector-borne diseases like malaria than they’ve ever experienced before.

“They’re affecting people right now, and there are things we can do to help address those problems,” Osborne said. “I’m really hoping that, together, we can find solutions that can be implemented pretty much immediately to help build climate resilience, protect lives and ecosystems.”

Her work has taken Osborne everywhere from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, Uganda and beyond. She has facilitated educational and capacity-building programs, and is a founding member of The Oceanography Society JEDI Committee, co-lead of Ocean Corps and a member of the American Meteorological Society Water Resources Committee. After earning her master’s degree and doctorate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, Osborne completed a postdoctoral fellowship within the Hydroclimate Research Group of Johns Hopkins University, where she investigated Amazon Rainforest rainfall and floods and how they serve as predictors for malaria risk. She has completed several specialty-area training experiences, including opportunities with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CNN Domestic and International Weather, and a research experience with the National Science Foundation in the Bahamas. She was also part of the DEEPWAVE field campaign centered on atmospheric gravity waves and cloud stereo photogrammetry in New Zealand, and trained in science journalism at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Osborn earned her undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State in 2014, graduating with a double major in meteorology and hydrology and a minor in mass communications. While at SCSU, she appreciated the large international student population, as well as the STEM-related programs and organizations she was able to be involved in.

“I was able to get a really solid foundation on the atmospheric and hydrologic science piece, and a great introduction to climate sciences,” Osborne said. “That foundation took me to places I never imagined going. I truly feel grateful for the support I had there and the education I had there.”

She continues working to build on her expertise, and hopes to be a gender equality champion in her work. Osborne hopes that when she goes to a location to provide technical support on climate and health connections, she’s also able to provide recommendations on how to make sure there’s gender equality promotion in addition to supporting youths and future generations.

“I’m encouraged by the strategic thinking and thought leadership that come into play when developing efforts — where we’re identifying what data, information and tools are already available and what we can do to help take them further and make the best use of investments,” Osborne said. “If we understand the links between health and climate, agriculture and food security and climate, education and climate, or conflict and climate, we can leverage existing efforts and information together to consider how we can have a more holistic approach that helps achieve longer term goals in sustainable development. Let’s include climate considerations now rather than have more people suffer the consequences later.”



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