ResilienceInternational Effort to Improve Urban Resilience

Published 9 January 2020

Extreme climate events are severely affecting communities in the U.S. and around the world. The examples are plenty. Bushfires in Australia, wildfires in California, flooding on both U.S. coasts and inland, and much more. In the face of extreme climate events, experts explore developing nature-based solutions.

In the face of extreme climate events, ASU professor to link network of groups developing nature-based solutions.

Extreme climate events are severely affecting communities in the U.S. and around the world. The examples are plenty. Australia is currently burning on a scale never seen before — 14.5 million acres scorched, half a billion animals killed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Hundreds of fires are still burning out of control.

California has seen an increase in deadly wildfires such as the Camp Fire in 2018, which became one of the world’s most expensive natural disasters and California’s most destructive — killing 88 people and destroying nearly 18,000 structures.

Flooding on both U.S. coasts and inland has grown due to extreme weather events and sea-level rise. Deadly hurricanes including Harvey, Maria and Sandy have caused irreparable damage to the communities they encountered.

“The overall challenge is that cities, in particular, are experiencing and will experience an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme events,” said Arizona State University Regents Professor Nancy Grimm. “So, fires, heat waves, flooding, coastal flooding, droughts and so forth — most of these are weather-related events, and whether or not you can attribute any single one of them to climate change, we’re going to see more of them and they are going to be more severe.”

This presents huge challenges for cities and the people who live there because many urban communities exist along coastal areas and rivers or in drylands. Infrastructure such as powerlines, water supplies and roads are concentrated in urban areas, making them even more vulnerable to extreme events.

ASU says thatthis is why Grimm, a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, is leading an international effort to develop new solutions for urban resilience — solutions that take advantage of the benefits that nature can provide. As part of a new, five-year, $2 million dollar grant funded by the National Science Foundation, Grimm, along with co-principal investigator Timon McPhearson, director of the Urban Systems Lab at The New School in New York, will be crafting new ways to connect networks around the world that are working to create sustainable and resilient cities.