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UREx SRN Inspires Greylit Research into City and State Resilience Finance

November 10, 2020

The UREx SRN recently supported a pinnacle webinar that profiled two UREx-derived research projects focused on building practitioner resilience. 500 participants attended the day-of event and at least as many will watch the webinar in the archive. UREx SRN member Joyce Coffee partnered with the Innovation Network for Communities on both research projects (Total project amount for the entire team and both reports: $50,000 funded by the Summit Foundation).

The 2019 report Playbook 1.0: How Cities Are Paying for Climate ResiliencePlaybook 1.0: How Cities are Paying for Climate Resilience identifies eight distinct strategies cities are using to pay for large-scale climate-resilience projects, mostly to address sea level rise and flooding.

These strategies amount to an initial approach for deciding who will pay what and how city governments will generate the needed revenue. Our analysis is based on a close look at how eight US cities in seven states have been organizing the funding needed to implement their ambitious climate-resilience plans. They are among a small number of cities that have gotten this far.

Each of these cities has had to find its own way to public and private financial resources, because there is no system in place for solving the problem of how to pay for climate resilience—no cost-sharing arrangements, for instance, for resilience infrastructure across local, state, and federal levels of government. The cities are involuntary pioneers faced with growing climate hazards and exposure that require more money for resilience. Examining these cities’ pathways revealed common strategies that, while only reflecting the leading-edge of urban climate-resilience financing practices, quite likely foreshadow what other cities already or may do.

But the pathways also suggest the limits of what cities are able to do. The acknowledgement that state governments can help local governments invest in climate resilience led to a 2020 report How State Governments can Help Local Communities Invest in Climate Resilience.

How State Governments can Help Local Communities Invest in Climate Resilience

This report presents recommendations for how state governments can develop climate-resilience financial systems that help local communities invest in protecting residents, businesses, public infrastructure, private property, and natural resources from climate-driven stresses and shocks. To help states consider and act on the recommendations, we developed a State Climate Resilience Action Checklist that identifies the essential actions that states need to take to build a comprehensive approach to resilience, including a financial system. By “financial system” for states we mean a set of aligned state actions that fund and finance climate-resilience investment, revenue-generating mechanisms for shifting existing revenue or generating new revenue for resilience building, provision of basic state services related to climate resilience, and the administration of federal funding flows that can be used for resilience purposes. Taken together, these support local communities in developing the capacities and actions they need to strengthen their climate resilience in the short- and long-term.

Stories of our shared climate future: San Juan

October 28, 2020

Artboard

The UREx SRN's Scenarios Working Group and each city team have worked tirelessly to create participatory visions of the future for each network city over the past several years. Now that we have rich databases of visions and preferred strategies for each city, the next step is to communicate and promote these visions to catalyze sustainability transitions. This is what several members of the San Juan City Team set out to do in August 2019.

For more than a year, several San Juan City Team members have been working together to design a platform to share the entire collection of scenario visions, narratives, strategies, and timelines for San Juan 2080 in a visual, engaging, and interactive tool. We also wanted to enrich this platform with background knowledge, a diversity of resources, and relevant case studies from other cities to make them more useful. For instance, to connect local stakeholders with the knowledge and financial resources to actually implement some of the strategies.

We used ArcGIS Story Maps as our platform to present these syntheses. The platform includes syntheses for each of the three flood scenarios (coastal floods, riverine floods, and urban floods) as well as the three transformative visions (Connected Municipality, Food and Energy Security, and Just and Livable City) developed during the UREx San Juan 2080 scenario workshops.

We are very excited to share the final version of this platform: Visiones de Ciudad - San Juan 2080. San Juan Story Map For those who are unfamiliar with the UREx Scenario Workshop process and/or outputs, we have created a landing page ("Inicio") that provides context for this collection of syntheses. We invite you to view the Story Map and share it with anyone who you think would be interested. Please note that it is in Spanish.

This platform is an example of one possible method for mobilizing each city's Scenario Workshop data within their communities, and it will ideally serve as an example for other UREx cities to create similar tools – increasing the knowledge uptake of the many invaluable resources co-produced by the UREx over the past five years.

This project could not have been possible without the gracious support of two NSF INTERN Supplement Awards provided to Robert Hobbins over the past year.

Primary contributors to the Visiones de Ciudad - San Juan 2080 Story Map: Robert Hobbins, Tischa Muñoz-Erickson, Pablo Méndez-Lázaro, Ariel Lugo, Juan González Moscoso, Grizelle González, Ingrid Vila Biaggi, Mandy Kuhn, Maria Maurer, and Anaís Delilah Roque. For the full list of contributors, please see the "Inicio" page and credits section of each page.

Syracuse, Green Infrastructure, and K-12 Learning Opportunities

August 14, 2020

Green infrastructure is a unifying theme across the UREx SRN network cities, given its potential for stormwater management along with other benefits like heat mitigation and aesthetic improvements. Green infrastructure implementation is in various stages in our networks cities, and in Syracuse UREx SRN Mentor, Cliff Davidson has worked to integrate an ecological-technological solution through the green roof on the Convention Center in downtown Syracuse.

The Syracuse Convention Center green roof is over 60,000 square feet. The roof underwent a retrofit in 2011, when the green roof was added, and an extensive network of monitoring equipment allows for a plethora of data. Some examples of the data available is rainfall, rooftop runoff, soil moisture, windspeed, temperature through each layer of the roof. Undergraduate and graduate students have utilized this data for their research on the green roof since its construction in areas such as chemistry, energy, and hydrology. The green roof is built on top of a traditionally constructed roof, with a sheet drain, 3” of engineered growth medium, and the vegetation above it.  There are five different species of sedum on the roof as shown in the illustration below by UREx SRN graduate student, Courtney Gammon.Courtney was a recipient of the 2020 summer UREx graduate grant, and her current research revolves around using the software HYDRUS-1D to model flow through the OnCenter green roof. Extensive inputs for the green roof are required for modeling, many of which are available through historic and real-time datasets from the green roof’s monitoring network. Other inputs are from mathematical exploration and additional student research. UREx SRN Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) student, Anna Wojcik’s research on Leaf Area Index will be included in the data sets for modeling. If the model is successful it can be used to predict performance of the roof in future weather events, or to examine how similar roofs with function in locations with varied climate.

Additionally, the OnCenter green roof is being used as a tool for middle school education in New York schools to combat climate change. As part of the UREx SRN REU summer program, Libby Cultra is working with Cliff Davidson and graduate student Courtney Gammon to create a lesson plan using this green roof. The lesson plan utilizes activities, stories, experiments, and figures to teach 7th through 9th graders about green infrastructure in an improved and modern way. The unit is based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which are new STEM guidelines for K-12 students. A NGSS style lesson plan includes important, core subjects (Life, Earth, Physical Science, etc.) that are necessary for science education. Each unit or lesson plan achieves learning goals and follows coded standards made specifically for NGSS. Most importantly, problem-solving and modeling, which are connected to engineering practices, are also a key part of the NGSS learning experience.

Libby’s lesson plans, made for five 50 minute class periods, teach kids about the water cycle, carbon cycle, plant anatomy, natural hazards, ecosystems, and green roof benefits. Ecological cycles like the water and carbon cycle are amazing observable phenomena that continually occur on Earth, with plant life on a green roof playing a big role. Hands-on learning using real data will show students measurable benefits of green infrastructure. For example, the OnCenter green roof collects excess rainwater that could potentially cause flooding in cities. Students get to see the water cycle in action through live graphs of runoff, precipitation, and temperature. Data is collected every five minutes. Using this data, students will also learn about soil saturation and where water travels after it reaches the ground.

Activities and interactive stories throughout the lesson guide both teachers and students, making it easy to navigate through each lesson. Figures drawn by the Syracuse research team were made for easy comprehension by the students. Two examples are our water cycle and food pyramid diagrams (shown below).                                                             

     

This project is currently being reviewed by New York State Master Teachers. Eventually, we hope to distribute the completed plan to schools in the area and in an online format to promote sustainability to future generations.

Chester comments on climate change and our already-taxed infrastructure

August 11, 2020

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington PostSustainability scientist Mikhail Chester is interviewed in the August 8 Washington Post article, Why climate change is about to make your bad commute worse. According to the article, while most motorists are familiar with many reasons for bad traffic, such as construction, inadequate mass transit and crashes, a culprit that must increasingly be considered is climate change.

"We need to fundamentally reassess what our systems need to be able to deliver, and under what conditions," said Mikhail Chester, associate professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering at Arizona State University and co-leader of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network. "And those conditions, it looks like, are going to be changing faster and faster in the future."

"Climate change is an additional stressor on already taxed infrastructure," Chester said. The situation’s silver lining, he added, is consensus: "Everyone is in agreement that we should do something about infrastructure."

Future Cities episode 33: The Many Names for Urban Nature

View Source | August 1, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoThere are many ways to refer to nature in cities: urban green space, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure… But which name is best? Does it really even matter what names we used to describe urban nature? In this episode, Stephen Elser (@stephen_elser) interviews Dr. Dan Childers (director of @caplter) about some of the issues with various terms to describe urban nature, and a relatively new term that he prefers: urban ecological infrastructure. Then, we hear from Jason Sauer (@JasonRSauer) about a term he uses to describe his own study system: "heritage" wetlands. Learn how the words we use can change our research approaches and the perspectives that we adopt. Find Dr. Childers' paper on urban ecological infrastructure here (https://www.elementascience.org/artic...), and listen to his previous appearance on our show with a conversation about urban ecology here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSRdT...). Also, listen to the episode that Stephen and Jason made about Valdivia's urban wetlands, y tambien  en español

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, or Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

New paper: Modest water policy implementation could offset 30 percent of outdoor demand

July 14, 2020

A new paper in Sustainability Science finds that the use of alternative water supplies, such as rainwater harvesting and greywater use, could offset up to 30 percent of total outdoor water demand for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area under modest implantation of these policies.

The paper, Simulating alternative sustainable water futures, is the work of sustainability scientists David Sampson and Nancy Grimm, sustainability fellow David Iwaniac, UREX affiliate Elizabeth Cook and CAP LTER affiliate Melissa Davidson. The authors adapted ASU’s WaterSim tool to explore differences in water demand and supply, as influenced by runoff, rainfall, changes in land use and land cover, population growth and improvements in water use efficiency.

The abstract follows.

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Future Cities episode 32: There are such things as vacant lots

View Source | July 1, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoDr. Elsa Anderson stops by the show to talk with us about vacant lots and urban biodiversity, or how urban areas can provide spaces for many species of plants and animals. Dr. Anderson has worked on plant diversity in cities as diverse as Chicago, Illinois and Berlin, Germany. Her recent publications explore how different management strategies of vacant lots in cities, actions as simple as mowing or installing fences, or as complex as erecting a wall to divide two political philosophies, can impact plant communities for years to come. Find her on Twitter at @ElsaAnderson16 and Instagram @elsaa1016.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Our Infrastructure is Being Built for a Climate That's Already Gone

June 2, 2020

With the current climate crisis comes the realization that infrastructure built on climate models of the past is no longer sufficient for weather events today. The concept of stationarity will need to give way to more flexible and adaptable engineering approaches that embrace deep uncertainty. In the Vice News article Our Infrastructure is Being Built for a Climate That's Already Gone examples of failed infrastructure are illustrated.

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Future Cities episode 31: Infrastructure Resilience and Biomimicry

View Source | June 1, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoIn today’s rapidly evolving climate, and amid unprecedented technological disruptions, engineers and designers seek infrastructure solutions that are resilient to both known and unknown future conditions. This podcast explores the use of biomimicry to provide examples and guidance for resilient infrastructure systems, spanning theory and practice. We evaluate opportunities for improving design, prompted through consideration of Life’s Principles. Collaborators (in order of appearance): Alysha Helmrich, Dr. Samuel Markolf, Dr. Nancy Grimm, Dr. Mikhail Chester, Dr. Cheryl Desha, and Dr. Samantha Hayes.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Future Cities episode 30: Resilience in the face of COVID-19

View Source | May 6, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoCities are at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what happens in cities once a pandemic takes hold? What systems are failing? Are cities prepared to simultaneously deal with this pandemic and extreme weather events like hurricanes and heat waves? Can we ever return to any semblance of "normal" and if not, how can we transform to create more positive futures? Today, we hear from a group of experts as they reflect on what the COVID-19 pandemics means for our public health systems, critical infrastructure, the research being done in cities, and ultimately – urban resilience. Our guests were Dr. David Eisenman (@deisenman), Dr. Timon McPhearson (@timonmcphearson), Dr. Mike Chester (@mikhailchester), and Dr. Nancy Grimm (@DrNitrogen). Alysha Helmrich and Dr. Bernice Rosensweig (@brr_nyc) conducted two of our interviews for this episode. Our host, Stephen Elser (@stephen_elser) wrote a haiku based on the conversations in this episode:

COVID changed the game.
We must transform our cities
And build back better

Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Future Cities episode 29: Trees to help our cities breathe

View Source | May 4, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoWe all know that trees provide all sorts of benefits to people, right? But different trees provide different benefits and trees will only provide those benefits if we can make sure they stay healthy.

In this episode, Stephen Elser (@stephen_elser) interviews Jenna Rindy (@msjerindy), a PhD student at Boston University, about her research urban tree research. She tells us about how two species of oak tree vary in how much soot they remove from the air, and why that's so important for human health. We then discuss how human-caused fragmentation of forests affects tree health, and how that in turn affects us. We wrap up with a brief conversation about some challenges that climate change brings to urban forests.

Jenna wrote a haiku about her research:

Trees help cities to breath
But cities can hurt trees too.
What is the real cost?

To read the paper that we discuss in the episode, follow this link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/...

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience. 

Future Cities episode 28: Improve our cities through urban ecology

March 19, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoIn this episode, we explore the field of urban ecology and the challenges of doing social-ecological research. Stephen Elser (@stephen_elser) interviews Dr. Dan Childers, a professor at Arizona State University and director of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program. Dan emphasizes how important it is to be willing to learn the language and approaches of other disciplines on order to do better urban ecological research. But urban ecology didn’t always have an interdisciplinary approach, and the social aspects of cities were frequently ignored. Dan describes what he calls the “prepositional journey” from an ecology *in* cities to an ecology *of* cities to an ecology *for* cities. He discusses what some of the major challenges are in pursuing urban sustainability and what CAP LTER (@caplter) is doing to address those challenges in order to create more positive futures for the city of Phoenix.

Stephen wrote a haiku inspired by this conversation with Dr. Childers.

No more Birkenstocks.
Go beyond your field – listen.
Improve our cities.

Learn more about CAP LTER at their website: https://sustainability.asu.edu/caplter/

Listen on iTunesStitcher or Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Current Events mini-episode 3: Urban ecology

View Source | March 19, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoAs their first topic, Tessa Martinez and PhD candidate, Stephen Elser (@stephen_elser), discuss the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, and how it relates to city life. They then talk about green spaces and how they have a role in decreasing depression and improving human livelihood!

Here are the links to the two topics discussed! https://theconversation.com/outbreaks... https://www.npr.org/sections/health-s... Listen to the most recent full episode, Urban Ecology to Improve Our Cities on Buzzsprout

Current Events mini-episode 2: Urban agriculture

View Source | March 19, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoAs their first topic, Tessa Martinez and Jason Sauer discuss Arizona’s goal of getting rid of their 43 food deserts. They then talk about the local Phoenix business, Agriscaping, and how they are making a difference in Arizona’s urban agriculture!

Check out these links to the learn more about the two topics discussed! https://modernfarmer.com/2019/10/phoe... https://agriscaping.com/ Listen to the full "Greening Phoenix through Urban Agriculture" episode on Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Current Events mini-episode 1: Infrastructure and climate change

View Source | March 19, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoIn our first current events minisode, Tessa Martinez and Alysha Helmrich discuss the Australian wildfires and their implications on Sydney’s infrastructure. They then explore Portland’s new way of filtering their water supply before it reaches the sewers- rain gardens! Listen to the full Infrastructure and Climate Change episode on Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

Future Cities episode 27: Urban agriculture and greening phoenix

February 6, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoWe talk with two researchers, Dr. Nazli Uludere Aragon and PhD student Michelle Stuhlmacher (@MFStuhlmacher on Twitter) about their recent publication, “Urban agriculture’s bounty: contributions to Phoenix’s sustainability goals.” The researchers explain what Phoenix’s sustainability goals currently are, how and where to develop agriculture in a desert city. We talk about how urban agriculture in Phoenix can get so-called food desert communities access to fruits and vegetables that they do not currently have, and how to balance demands for low water usage with a desire for a greener city. Our guests wrote a haiku to summarize their paper: Urban farms provide the bounty of the garden, open space, clean air.

Urban farms provide
the bounty of the garden,
open space, clean air.

Listen on iTunesStitcher or Buzzsprout

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

In an interdisciplinary effort, ASU researchers develop a framework to help decide sustainable futures

Science Direct | February 1, 2020

Image of wind turbinesAs we continue to witness the devastating impacts of climate change, there is a consensus that we as a human population need to transition to a more sustainable way of living. But with so many ideas and proposals, how do we decide which pathways are best? Experts from Arizona State University have created a tool to help: The Sustainable Future Scenarios (SFS).

According to a new paper published in the journal of Landscape and Urban Planning, "The co-production of sustainable future scenarios," the SFS “offers guidance to co-produce visions and transition pathways of positive futures that develop and integrate interventions for sustainability transformations of social-ecological-technological systems.”

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Future cities episode 26: Infrastructure and climate change

January 1, 2020

UREx Podcast LogoClimate change is a large source of uncertainty for infrastructure managers. It is easy to feel immobilized by future uncertainty, however, that does not have to be the case. In this podcast, the hosts interview a city practitioner, social scientist, and climate modeller to understand how infrastructure managers integrate climate modelling data into the decision process.

Associated Links/Websites:

Referenced:

Participants:

Listen on iTunesStitcher or Buzzsprout.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, e-mail us at futurecitiespodcast@gmail.com or find us on Twitter @FutureCitiesPod. Learn more about the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) at www.sustainability.asu.edu/urbanresilience.

UREx co-founder, Nancy Grimm receives honored recognition

December 31, 2019

In recognition of her distinguished and continued achievement in research, co-founder and director of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN), Nancy Grimm was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, and will be inducted into the Academy in April 2020.  This mark of excellence in science is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive. This fall, she also was honored by Arizona State University, being named Regents Professor.

Grimm’s research interests include the interaction of climate variation and change, human activities, and ecosystems. Her long-term stream research focuses on how variability in the hydrologic regime affects the structure and processes of desert streams, especially wetland plant distribution, metabolism, nitrogen cycling, and hyporheic processes. Her related research in cities addresses how stormwater infrastructure affects water and material movement across an urban landscape. As the founding director of the interdisciplinary Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER program, she brought together earth, life, and social scientists to develop new frameworks for understanding urban social-ecological-technological systems (SETS). For UREx SRN, the SETS framing is central.

Congratulations to Nancy!

UREx SRN Alumni: Beating the heat in Phoenix neighborhoods

December 30, 2019

Melissa GuardaroSchool of Sustainability PhD graduate, Melissa Guardaro has made an impact on heat action planning in Phoenix, Arizona. As part of the Nature’s Cooling System Project, Guardaro strove to address social and geographical equity concerns related to heat mitigation and adaptation strategies in under-served areas. She partnered with local groups including the Nature Conservancy, community based organizations, city officials, and the public health department to develop heat action plans for three low-income communities: Edison-Eastlake Community, Mesa Care Neighborhood, and Lindo Park-Roesley Park Neighborhood.

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