Research Project

In Hot Water and Harms Way: Modeling to Promote Regional Resilience to Repeated Heat Waves and Hurricanes

Many regions of the country experience repeated impacts from natural hazards. Repeated exposure to hazards has the potential to substantially alter regional resilience though changes in individual and collective responses and preparations for natural hazards, but the influences of repeated exposure, near misses, and false alarms over time are currently poorly understood. This is particularly […]

Hurricane Irene photo

Many regions of the country experience repeated impacts from natural hazards. Repeated exposure to hazards has the potential to substantially alter regional resilience though changes in individual and collective responses and preparations for natural hazards, but the influences of repeated exposure, near misses, and false alarms over time are currently poorly understood. This is particularly true for hurricanes and heat waves, two hazards that have repeatedly impacted areas of the U.S., particularly in the mid- Atlantic region. Separately these two types of hazards represent major causes of hazard-induced death, economic loss, and damage to the built and natural environments. Both hazards are sensitive to changes in climate. Together, these hazards may have a strong influence on the evolution of regional vulnerability and resilience as individuals, utilities, and government agencies struggle with appropriate responses.

Chincoteague Island flooding with houses_Hurricane SandyOur research approach is novel in both synthesis and new model development. We will synthesize both new and existing within-discipline research to bridge disparate data, concepts, and theories and build a new framework, the Integrated Hazard, Impact, and Resilience Model (IHIRM), to develop a new, deeply collaborative approach to studying the impacts of repeated hurricanes and heat waves on vulnerability and resilience and approaches for improving resilience to these repeated hazards. We will integrate individual and organizational behavioral studies, economic models, climate science, infrastructure engineering, hazard modeling, public health, and spatial landscape analysis. We have assembled a diverse advisory board of governmental and industrial leaders in disaster and emergency response and strong international collaborators. The project will include education and outreach targeting major media outlets, future emergency response leaders, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and middle and high school students. The project will advance understanding of resilience in the face of repeated hazards, laying a foundation for reducing regional vulnerability and increasing regional resilience through an integration of policy, engineering, and education measures.

Project Objectives

The overarching objective of the proposed research will be to fundamentally advance the understanding of how repeated exposure to hurricanes and heat waves influences the evolution of the vulnerability and resilience of regions over time and to use this understanding to help regions better prevent repeated hazards from becoming repeated disasters. Our work towards the overarching goal will be guided by five research objectives. The first four are in developing an improved understanding of and ability to model:

  1. Interplays between the potential for repeated hazards to increase preparedness and resilience on the one hand and the tendency for near misses and false alarms to decrease them on the other;
  2. Influences of resource constraints and market failures on mitigation decision-making, and the influences of these decisions on overall regional resilience;
  3. Interactions between infrastructure and building hardening, land use change, and regional resilience; and
  4. Influences of regional climate adaptation decisions on regional resilience, and public-sector adaptation planning decisions on local and individual response to repeated hazards.

The fifth research objective is to propose and evaluate: Integrated approaches for improving regional resilience, combining approaches from planning, policy, engineering, and public education.

Filed in:

Center for Systems Science and Engineering