Spatial patterning in marine and terrestrial systems

Components of complex systems, often differ in their characteristic scale of variability. We investigate the causes and consequences of this scale-dependent heterogeneity, or patchiness, as observed in remote sensing observations of marine and terrestrial systems.

Motivated by the worldwide efforts to understand different aspects of the COVID-19 disease, in a recent work conducted with Doron Chelouche and Gabriel Cotlier, we tested the hypothesis that patterns of spatial heterogeneity, or patchiness, in the urban landscape impose spatially varying constraints which may affect the potential for COVID-19 spread. By comparing results from 17,250 epidemiological investigations carried out during the early stages of the disease outbreak in Israel, with characteristics of urban landscape as derived from satellite images, We find that exposure to coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19) carriers was significantly more likely to occur in “patchy” parts of the city, where the urban landscape is characterized by high levels of spatial heterogeneity at relatively small scales (~10-100m).


Locations of reported exposures to SARS-COV-2 carriers from results of epidemiological  investigations (red dots), overlaid on values of landscape patchiness index (LPI, a measure to the contribution of small scales to the total variance in a given grid cell) in the Gush Dan district, Israel.