Equitable-Access Flood Modeling for Timely and Just Adaptation in the Near and Long Term
Lead PI:
Katharine Mach

Climate change is intensifying flood risks, with profound socioeconomic consequences. Equitable flood adaptation is designed to offer greater and/or more lasting benefits to overburdened communities than past projects in a warming climate. In pursuit of this goal, this Smart and Connected Communities Integrative Research Grant (SCC-IRG) project develops and tests a new paradigm of flood adaptation marked by innovation in access to, and use of, an interactive, fast flood risk simulation tool. The project aims to produce new knowledge about the role and effectiveness of collaborative models in promoting social justice and environmental well-being. Widespread adoption has the potential to make future solutions to be more time-sensitive, equitable, and effective for different communities and hazard types.

Flooding dynamics are complex and uncertain, decision-making is limited by social, political, and institutional constraints, and participatory processes are very time-consuming. This project brings together experts in civil engineering, adaptation sciences, and regional planning to (a) overcome technical barriers in flood risk simulation that have been limiting collaborative exploration by communities, notably the ability to predict flood impacts at fine resolution and at regional scales for a wide range of scenarios, and (b) measure if and how a new sociotechnical framework can improve outcomes such as increasing participation of marginalized populations, shortening planning timelines, and more equitably distribution of benefits and resources across groups and neighborhoods over time. Linking a digital engagement platform to a fast-response flood simulation tool could represent a breakthrough innovation for more equitably responding to climate change. The framework, if successful, could be broadly applied at neighborhood to regional scales to aid in climate change adaptation.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Katharine Mach
Katharine Mach is a Professor at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, & Earth Science and a faculty scholar at the UM Abess Center, focused on environmental science and policy. Her research assesses climate change risks and response options to address increased flooding, extreme heat, wildfire, and other hazards. Through innovative approaches to integrating evidence, she informs effective and equitable adaptations to the risks. Mach was the 2020 recipient of the Piers Sellers Prize for world leading contribution to solution-focused climate research. She previously was a Senior Research Scientist at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Environment Assessment Facility. Before that from 2010 until 2015, she co-directed the scientific activities of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This work on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability culminated in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. The associated global scientific collaborations have supported diverse climate policies and actions, including the Paris Agreement. Mach is a chapter lead for the US Fifth National Climate Assessment and was a lead author for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. She serves as Co-Editor in Chief for Climate Risk Management, a member of the National Academies Climate Security Roundtable, an editorial board member for Oxford Open Climate Change and Environmental Research: Climate, and an advisory committee member for the Aspen Global Change Institute, the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, and Carbon180. Across all of her research projects, she engages in relevant policy processes, and she frequently discusses climate change risk and adaptation with the media, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and communities. Mach received her PhD from Stanford University and AB summa cum laude from Harvard College. At UM, Mach is the Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. She teaches Interdisciplinary Environmental Research: Introduction to the Why and the How (ECS 601/EVR 603) and the Science of Actionable Knowledge (EVR 511/611).
Performance Period: 09/01/2023 - 08/31/2026
Institution: University of Miami
Award Number: 2305476
Core Areas: Water Management