Climate Change Adaptation in U.S. Cities (2011)

Project Location : 
Summary of Project Idea: 

In this project the master's project team researched potential threats and impacts of climate change on city-level systems, and investigated adaptation opportunities for cities facing climate-related stressors. Recognizing that most climate change studies focus disproportionately on temperature-related effects, the team chose to actively look for water-related impacts and risks in our analysis. The team goals are to make meaningful policy recommendations, including both implementation, and design strategies for adaptation to climate change. The team sought to collaborate with local climate experts and policy makers to inform our analysis, and to provide support for local climate change adaptation planning efforts. In the spirit of collaborative learning experience, the team expressed interest in sharing the results of its work and valued honest input and feedback from those working in these cities and regions.

The research focused on three mid-sized U.S. cities: Baltimore, MD, Fresno, CA and Milwaukee, WI. The team selected these cities because they each represent different climate zones and geographic regions, and because they have different severe threats (sea-level rise, drought, and intense precipitation events). The team divided its analysis into five sectors: energy, water, land use, human health, and transportation. Within each sector the team considered how climate change might impact economics, social systems, natural systems, and the built environment. The team also highlighted cross-cutting and interconnected issues that transcend these categories, and utilize advanced spatial analysis and design tools to illustrate key climate change vulnerabilities/adaptation strategies. The goal is to create case studies of climate change and adaptation in these three cities that are valuable to local planners and policy makers, and will also inform similar climate change adaptation planning efforts in other cities.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Environmental Justice
Sustainable Systems
Landscape Architecture
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Rosina Bierbaum, Arun Agrawal and Larissa Larsen
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Kristin Baja, MUP/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Koben Calhoun, MPP/MUP
  • Lauren Cotter, MPP/MS Environmental Justice
  • Devi Glick, MPP/MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Nick Kahn, MUP
  • Lani Leuthvilay, MLA
  • Kevin McCoy, MUP
  • Sarah Katherine Pethan, MLA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Peter Sotherland, MUP
  • Frank Szollosi, MPP/MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Tracy Tran, MUP
  • Kailai Zhang, MS Environmental Informatics
Project Status: 
Past Project