Urban vulnerability and resilience
Climate and weather impacts are increasingly acquiring an urban face. The disruption of our climate system will add to the risks and stresses cities, where 50% of the world's population lives, are already facing. RS–Cities has developed several projects in this area that are believed to have great potential and where the current knowledge is relatively poor. The first is Adaptation to the Health Impacts of Air Pollution and Climate Extremes in Latin American Cities (ADAPTE) that investigates the health risks from exposure to climate variability and air pollution in four Latin American cities (Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Mexico City, and Santiago). ADAPTE has been financed by the Inter American Institute of Global Environmental Change and the National Science Foundation (2017–HD). What we have found so far is that the nature of health risks is quite complex; it varies across cities and weather conditions; it has different implications for respiratory and cardiovascular mortality; it disproportionately affects the most sensitive demographic sectors (e.g., the elderly); and it requires the integration of diverse disciplinary domains to better understand the nature and linkages between its dimensions and determinants.
A second research project is Data Conservancy project, an ambitious 5–yr effort financed by NSF that seeks to support new forms of inquiry and learning to meet the needs of understanding, measuring, and modeling the urban contribution to, and urban impacts of climate change (Click Here) RS–Cities will constitute a science domain whose research questions and data needs will be supported through the creation of a well–defined data system. One of the research questions (namely what are the components and determinants of a vulnerable/resilient situation across urban areas?) is currently serving as basis to undertake a systematic review and meta–analysis of case studies. The goal of this effort is three–fold: to define the main approaches to urban vulnerability; to determine the components of the meta–framework these approaches or lineages address; and to examine the narratives they develop in order to define – and tally – the key determinants of vulnerability. We also outline the underlying processes defining an urban vulnerable situation.
Climate change and associated water resources variability pose serious challenges for water managers in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico, a region being transformed by rapid urban growth and coastal development. The third research effort in this area is a project financed by NOAA that seeks to know: (a) how applied climate science can stimulate decision makers and stakeholders to move beyond the near–term via adaptive water management strategies; and (b) how science can help increase the resilience of urban border communities to climate and water resource uncertainty, drought, and growth in the demand for water (Click Here).