Project Details


The Dynamics of Multi-scalar Adaptation in the Megalopolis: Autonomous action institutional change and social-hydrological risk in Mexico City (MEGAD The Dynamics of Multi-scalar Adaptation in the Megalopolis: Autonomous action, institutional change and social-hydrological risk in Mexico City (MEGAD This project is a novel response to the challenge of reducing vulnerability to increasing flooding, chronic water scarcity and associated health outcomes in the context of climatic change, in one of the worlds largest metropolitan regions, the Basin of Mexico. We couple state-of-art climatic and hydrological modeling with geo-referenced, multi-criteria decision-analysis and agent-based modeling to produce an integrated dynamic system model: the MEGADAPT model. The MEGADAPT model conceptualizes the production and spatial/social distribution flooding, water scarcity and health outcomes, and the diverse responses of actors to these risks (through land use/cover change, hard and soft infrastructure, water resource use, settlement patterns), as the key feedback processes between social-institutional and biophysical-infrastructural dimensions of social-hydrological system. Policy alternatives for integrated risk management and potentially transformative adaptation will be evaluated in participatory workshops, in relation to suites of scenarios of exogenous (representing near-term and far-future climate change forcing) and endogenous (representing different prioritizations of risk outcomes and decision strategies) drivers in the city. We aim for MEAGADPT to provide a lasting framework, supported by robust empirical results that can be applied conceptually to climate adaptation policy and water risk management in megacities around the globe. To this end, we evaluate the influence of MEGADAPT over actors understanding of the problem and the formation of potential policy solutions. The project, a collaboration between Arizona State University (ASU) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), has five goals: 1) develop and validate scenarios of climate and land use change impacts on flood, scarcity and health risk in the Basin through state-of-art integrated hydro-climatic modeling 2) to identify the exogenous (climatic change) and endogenous (institutions and actors decisions on land and water resources) drivers that keep a system vulnerable, and thus the leverage points that can alter the system; 3) to demonstrate how specific social actors influence vulnerability outcomes across space and scale; 4) to create a theoretically robust, but operationally tractable, framework for designing adaptation policy that aligns with sustainable development 5) validate the utility of MEGADAPT in addressing water adaptation challenges in collaboration with stakeholders. Intellectual Merit. The project integrates actor-oriented and systems-level vulnerability analysis, hydro-climatology, land use change, and institution and decision analysis to generate an interdisciplinary and integrated framework and dynamic model that reconceptualizes vulnerability and adaptation research for global megacities. Our innovative approach: 1) evaluates how flood, scarcity and health outcomes are produced through the interactions of actors decisions about water infrastructure investments and land cover with exogenous and longer term hydrological, geomorphological and climatic processes 2) allows decision-makers to assess the unintended social and hydrological consequences of prioritizing one dimension of risk over others; 3) empirically links and maps the influence of the values, agency, and knowledge of distinct social actors on biophysical processes (and vice versa) in a spatially explicit manner; 4) permits the analysis social and hydrological consequences of interventions taken to reduce urban vulnerability under different scenarios of risk governance and climate change; and 5) enables an explicit consideration of the influence of different mental models as endogenous drivers of vulnerability. Our project thus advances fundamental knowledge on the multiscalar social-biophysical interactions and dynamics that determine urban vulnerability to climate change and, through the project approach and outputs, constitutes an intervention in actors decision-making regarding these interactions. Broader Impacts. The use-inspired proposed project leverages the established relationships of UNAM and prior experience of team members to contribute to climate-change policy and land use development in Mexico City. Given this citys international leadership in climate-change policy, this approach will have a wide audience in megacity policy and planning fora around the world. The project builds upon a collaborative education and research relationship between ASU and UNAM. We will facilitate student participation in the international, interdisciplinary research team through virtual distributed seminars focused on the application of methods and theory in urban socioecological analysis. Advanced intensive training in agent-based modeling, dynamics systems models and multicriteria decision-analysis will be provided for participating students and investigators from both institutions. The research teams have a strong track record in supporting underrepresented minorities in research, including Hispanic Americans, women, and, in the case of UNAM, students of indigenous heritage.
Effective start/end date8/15/143/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $1,498,870.00


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