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Spatial Climate Justice and Green Infrastructure Assessment: A Case Study for the Huron River Watershed, Michigan, USA

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Green infrastructure serves as a critical no-regret strategy to address climate change mitigation and adaptation in climate action plans. Climate justice refers to the distribution of climate change-induced environmental hazards

Green infrastructure serves as a critical no-regret strategy to address climate change mitigation and adaptation in climate action plans. Climate justice refers to the distribution of climate change-induced environmental hazards (e.g., increased frequency and intensity of floods) among socially vulnerable groups. Yet no index has addressed both climate justice and green infrastructure planning jointly in the USA. This paper proposes a spatial climate justice and green infrastructure assessment framework to understand social-ecological vulnerability under the impacts of climate change. The Climate Justice Index ranks places based on their exposure to climate change-induced flooding, and water contamination aggravated by floods, through hydrological modelling, GIS spatial analysis and statistical methodologies. The Green Infrastructure Index ranks access to biophysical adaptive capacity for climate change. A case study for the Huron River watershed in Michigan, USA, illustrates that climate justice hotspots are concentrated in large cities; yet these communities have the least access to green infrastructure. This study demonstrates the value of using GIS to assess the spatial distribution of climate justice in green infrastructure planning and thereby to prioritize infrastructure investment while addressing equity in climate change adaptation.

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  • 2016-06-29

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Earthquake geology, hazard, urban form and social vulnerability along the San Andreas Fault

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The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of

The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of seismic hazard are informed by investigations of paleoseismology, slip distribution, and slip rate. The impact of earthquakes on people is due in large part to social vulnerability. This dissertation contributes an analysis about the relationships between earthquake hazard and social vulnerability in Los Angeles, CA and investigations of paleoseismology and fault scarp array complexity on the central SAF. Analysis of fault scarp array geometry and morphology using 0.5 m digital elevation models along 122 km of the central SAF reveals significant variation in the complexity of SAF structure. Scarp trace complexity is measured by scarp separation, changes in strike, fault trace gaps, and scarp length per SAF kilometer. Geometrical complexity in fault scarp arrays indicates that the central SAF can be grouped into seven segments. Segment boundaries are controlled by interactions with subsidiary faults. Investigation of an offset channel at Parkfield, CA yields a late Holocene slip rate of 26.2 +6.4/- 4.3 mm/yr. This rate is lower than geologic measurements on the Carrizo section of the SAF and rates implied by far-field geodesy. However, it is consistent with historical observations of slip at Parkfield. Paleoseismology at Parkfield indicates that large earthquakes are absent from the stratigraphic record for at least a millennia. Together these observations imply that the amount of plate boundary slip accommodated by the main SAF varies along strike. Contrary to most environmental justice analyses showing that vulnerable populations are spatially-tied to environmental hazards, geospatial analyses relating social vulnerability and earthquake hazard in southern California show that these groups are not disproportionately exposed to the areas of greatest hazard. Instead, park and green space is linked to earthquake hazard through fault zone regulation. In Los Angeles, a parks poor city, the distribution of social vulnerability is strongly tied to a lack of park space. Thus, people with access to financial and political resources strive to live in neighborhoods with parks, even in the face of forewarned risk.

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  • 2011