Shannon Rogers, assistant professor of ecological economics at PSU’s Center for the Environment and Department of Environmental Science and Policy is partnering with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on improving USACE resilience to climate change threats. Under the USACE Program to Reduce Civil Works Vulnerabilities, the project will help USACE to continue meeting its mission requirements and objectives while complying with federally mandated requirements for planning and action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The goal of the work is to develop, test, and deploy an approach for helping USACE meet its greenhouse gas mitigation targets while preserving or enhancing its authorized project functions and planning for water-resource adaptations to climate change and variability. The approach involves a framework for systematically integrating specific knowledge from operators and other system experts at USACE about their systems’ objectives and performance with actionable information about climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
Shannon’s work focuses on visiting USACE facilities, interviewing Army Corp personnel, and capturing their knowledge about facility operations. This participatory approach allows personnel to explain how they see the system working and provide key knowledge about potential vulnerabilities and opportunities for intervention. This information is then integrated into models combined with life cycle data about mitigation and adaptation alternatives. This creates a structured decision making process that allows for a comprehensive assessment of all decision criteria and possible outcomes. The domain of this work is basin-scale watersheds in the northeast US where USACE manages substantial water-resource investments.
Matt Cummings, a graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy, is working with Shannon to add a case study at the Franklin Falls Dam in Franklin, NH. Matt is researching options for reducing energy use, carbon emissions, and costs associated with the project site while meeting the main flood mitigation objectives of site and the overall mission of the Army Corps.
The project is unique in its approach combining social science methods with engineering data and analysis and visualization tools to help USACE consider specific and credible adaptation and mitigation options to improve the resilience of their operations in these basins against threats of climate and global change and variability. Work on the project is expected to continue to 2015.