Newsletter: RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center | Web version

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April 2016

Water and Climate Resilience Center

Message from the Codirectors

Welcome to the Water and Climate Resilience Newsletter

David Groves and Jordan Fischbach

David Groves and Jordan Fischbach

Welcome to the first quarterly newsletter for the RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center (WCRC). The WCRC addresses one of the most significant policy challenges of our time: changing how we plan, build, and organize our societal systems to become more resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. The Center conducts policy research and develops innovative tools to support decisionmakers at all levels of government as they confront challenges presented by climate change. There are so many exciting things going on within RAND's growing body of work focusing on water resources planning, coastal resilience, and flood risk management that we wanted to keep you updated.

Every quarter, WCRC will spotlight cutting-edge research in progress, researchers who are making an impact on policy, recent and upcoming events, and more. For this issue we highlight RAND commentary on the COP21 international climate negotiations that took place in Paris this past winter. You can also visit WCRC's website to find research and analysis on the issues that matter most to you. Thank you for your interest and support!

If you do not wish to receive future editions of this newsletter, you may unsubscribe here.

David Groves and Jordan Fischbach

Featured Commentary

RAND researchers weigh in on the COP21 climate negotiations, which took place in Paris during December.

Participants look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 near Paris, France, December 8, 2015

Paris Gets the (Decision) Science Right

The framework for the Paris negotiations is in sync with what science tells us about how to make effective public policy decisions. This alone makes them historic and may provide a model for both local and global action on more than climate alone. Read the commentary »

SThe amphibious assault ship USS Wasp passes the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS James E. Williams on its way to the pier in New Orleans, Louisiana

Climate Change Is a National Security Issue, but Not for the Reasons You Think

All U.S. policy decisions can and should be guided by clear evidence. Climate change policy is no exception. The United States should focus on addressing the clearest vulnerabilities, such as securing coastal defense infrastructure. Read the commentary »

Environmentalists hold a banner which reads in part, For the Climate, near the Eiffel Tower during the World Climate Change Conference 2015

COP 21: Ambition and Momentum

Negotiators in Paris achieved a historic breakthrough by adopting a fundamentally different, and likely more effective, institutional framework to address climate change. It builds on two concepts missing from past attempts to forge a global treaty: voluntary participation and adaptive policymaking. Read the commentary »

A man applies a sticker which reads 100% electric next to the logo of the upcoming COP21 Climate Change Conference on a Nissan LEAF electric car in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, November 16

COP 21 Not a Silver Bullet on Climate Change

The Paris climate conference cannot provide the engine that will drive a solution to the world's climate change challenge. Rather, it can best serve as a mediator that will help guide and structure the swirling, bottom-up process of radical change that is the best hope of preserving Earth's climate. Read the commentary »

New Publications

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, August 25, 2015, photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Analysis to Support Louisiana's Flood Risk and Resilience Program and Application to the National Disaster Resilience Competition

March 1, 2016

David G. Groves, Kenneth Kuhn, Jordan R. Fischbach, David R. Johnson, James Syme

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is making nearly $1 billion available to states that have recently experienced a presidentially declared major disaster. Louisiana submitted a Natural Disaster Resilience Competition application for funds to reduce the flood risk of storm surge by elevating residential structures in three areas. RAND provided a quantitative analysis of baseline flood risks and different allocations of funds. Read more »

Climate and Energy Analysis: Reinvigorating the Scenario Technique

February 4, 2016, published in Climatic Change, 2016

Evelina Trutnevyte, CĂ©line Guivarch, Robert J. Lempert, Neil Strachan

Scenarios are widely used for long-term climate and energy analysis, but scenario developers and users typically capture only a subset of future uncertainties. By adopting three focal points as part of this methodology, researchers can expand uncertainty consideration and gather user-specific insights. Read more »

Economic Evaluation of Land Loss in Louisiana

December 15, 2015

Stephen Barnes, Craig Bond, Nicholas Burger, Kate Anania, Aaron Strong, Sarah Weilant, Stephanie Virgets

Louisiana has experienced a rapid loss of land of about 1,880 square miles over the past 80 years. Without action, the next 50 years could result in the loss of 1,750 additional square miles. Analysis of the economic damages caused by land loss help quantify this bleak potential future. Read more »

Robust Decision-Making in the Water Sector: A Strategy for Implementing Lima's Long-Term Water Resources Master Plan

November 11, 2015

Nidhi Kalra, David G. Groves, Laura Bonzanigo, Edmundo Molina-Perez, Cayo Ramos, Carter Brandon, Ivan Rodriguez Cabanillas

This study helped SEDAPAL, the water utility serving Lima, Peru, answer the question of long-term water reliability by drawing on state of the art methods for decision making under deep uncertainty. Read more »

Current and Future Flood Risk in Greater New Orleans

October 20, 2015

Jordan R. Fischbach, Kenneth Kuhn

This report presents estimates of flood risk in New Orleans and quantifies the accomplishments of the post-Katrina efforts to improve coastal defenses. The authors find that significant risk reduction has been achieved, but that risk may increase in the future unless levees are maintained or further upgraded. Read more »

Managing Water Quality in the Face of Uncertainty: A Robust Decision Making Demonstration for EPA's National Water Program

September 9, 2015

Jordan R. Fischbach, Robert J. Lempert, Edmundo Molina-Perez, Abdul Ahad Tariq, Melissa L. Finucane, Frauke Hoss

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its partners develop implementation plans to meet water quality standards. Climate change and other key drivers may significantly affect these plans, but are often neglected due to uncertainty. This study uses two case studies to demonstrate how Robust Decision Making (RDM) can help to address future uncertainty by identifying vulnerabilities in water quality plans and suggesting appropriate responses. Read more »

Researcher Spotlight

Neil Berg

Neil Berg
Associate Physical Scientist

Neil Berg is an associate physical scientist who joined RAND in October 2015. He specializes in physical modeling and simulation, scientific/data programming, and has extensive knowledge in climate change science and modeling as well as water resources planning. He is currently examining climate change impacts on water supplies and flood control in Southeast Florida and Pittsburgh. Dr. Berg is also researching how different climate projections impact decisions on future biodiversity conservation efforts in California. He has also co-authored an Op-Ed on the intersection and uncertainties of climate change to national security as well as examined recent DoD policies related to climate change. Dr. Berg obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from UCLA and a B.S. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

News and Events

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, August 25, 2015, photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Jordan Fischbach and Pittsburgh's Chief Resilience Officer Lead Breakfast Briefing on Pittsburgh as a Resilient City

February 23, 2016

Jordan Fischbach, co-director of the RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center, and Grant Ervin, Pittsburgh's Chief Resilience Officer, led a breakfast briefing at the Green Building Alliance on how Pittsburgh can move beyond planning for sustainability and towards planning for true resiliency. Fischbach and Ervin provided perspective about Pittsburgh's involvement in the 100 Resilient Cities network—a Rockefeller Foundation program aimed at helping cities become more resilient to physical, social, and economic challenges. Read more »

Groves and Lempert Lead Decision Making Under Uncertainty Training for Water Managers

March 2-3, 2016

David Groves and Robert Lempert conducted a training session on decision making under uncertainty (DMU) for members of the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA) in Denver, CO. In the first session, they administered a "serious game" called "Decisions for the Decade" to help participants better appreciate planning under deep uncertainty. Subsequent sessions included lectures on RDM, MORDM, decision scaling, and dynamic adaptive pathways.

Experts Discuss California Drought and Water Policy

October 2, 2015

Water and Climate Resilience Center codirector David Groves discussed the current water crisis in California and associated policy implications during the California Drought and Water Policy Forum at RAND's Santa Monica headquarters. Read more »

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