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Title page for ETD etd-03192019-165359

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Gillespie-Marthaler, Leslie
URN etd-03192019-165359
Title Building Adaptive Capacity to Climate Hazard Scenarios through Use of the Sustainable Resilience Framework
Degree PhD
Department Environmental Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mark Abkowitz Committee Chair
Doug Adams Committee Member
Hiba Baroud Committee Member
Jonathan Gilligan Committee Member
Saleem Huq Committee Member
  • system assessment
  • sustainable resilience
  • resilience indicators
  • communities
  • climate hazards
  • adaptive capacity
Date of Defense 2019-03-18
Availability unrestricted
Vulnerability, resilience, sustainability, and adaptive capacity are terms at the forefront of research regarding complex system performance in dynamic settings. Analysis of individual concepts reveals their integration can add value to assessment of system performance, providing greater ability to understand interactions and avoid deficient or incomplete assessment and maladaptive consequences that can occur by failing to account for interactions. A new concept is introduced, “sustainable resilience,” that accounts for changes in sustainability and vulnerability within a system, and how changes result in ability to increase or decrease resilience over time through moderation of adaptive capacity. A unifying framework is provided to assess sustainable resilience in complex adaptive systems, using a serial and iterative process intended for social-environmental systems to assess behavior in response to short-term disruptions and long-term challenges in the context of decision-making.

To aid in operationalizing the framework for communities, indicators and associated metrics are reviewed. Over 1,000 individual indicators from social, economic, and environmental indices across multiple fields are identified and consolidated. Iterative review and application of a novel classification system developed for assessing sustainable resilience of communities, produces a final set of non-duplicative indicators and associated metrics. An environment for application of indicators is provided through evaluation of impacts to community sustainable resilience via development and assessment of high-risk scenarios for flood protection infrastructure. Local and modeled data are used to identify possible impacts to Nashville, TN based on worst historical precipitation events and the potential for exceeding events and established performance thresholds. While research is designed with the concept of sustainable resilience in mind, results and tools provided can be applied to any resilience assessment framework or system. Results are intended to help push forward the boundaries of operational resilience assessment and increase community goals toward survival, well-being, and long-term preparedness. Results offer a new interpretation that can potentially help communities build adaptive capacity and apply resources in a more efficient manner that leads to greater effectiveness in achieving sustainable resilience goals.

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