Defense of Thesis Proposal: Carolyn Stwertka

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 10:00am

Jackson Conference Room, Cummings Hall

Improving Community Resilience to Prepare for Increasing Environmental Variability

Abstract

Climate change poses significant risk to the federal government and individual taxpayers, yet public opinion research finds public awareness and concern vary greatly.  In the United States, substantial climate change adaptation planning is occurring at all levels of the government and in the public and private sectors, but very few measures have been implemented.  Adaptation planning offers promise for identifying and devising solutions, yet some local adaptation plans fail to prioritize impacts and strategies, or provide detailed implementation processes.  This raises concerns whether adaptation plans will succeed in translating into on-the ground reductions in vulnerabilities for local community efforts.  As climate continues to change, further delay of adaptation actions imposes a growing toll on American communities and the federal budget.

The literature overwhelmingly approaches resilience and adaptation as an iterative process – i.e. Step 1) Explore climate threats, Step 2) Assess vulnerability & risks, Step 3) Investigate options, Step 4) Prioritize actions, Step 5) Take action.  Standard metrics or measures to assess the added value from preparedness and a resilient community do not yet exist.  There is a need for a new approach to preparedness planning that provides guidance, leverage, and metrics into implementing climate adaptation planning for communities in the United States.

The proposed research goals are to identify and understand relationships between the key systems components that build resilient American communities, to model the dynamic behavior of this system, and to develop a novel machine-learning decision support tool that facilitates adaptation planning. Our new approach applies concepts from engineering systems theory to increase community resilience and adaptation to impacts of climate change.

Thesis Committee

For more information, contact Daryl Laware at daryl.a.laware@dartmouth.edu.