Stakeholder Input for Storm Risk Assessment

Friday 3:00pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Sustainability and the Environment


Patricia Stapleton, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Extreme storms have major impacts on the communities that lay in their path. Many climate models predict increased frequency of heavy rains and icing events, freak storms, and severe weather within the continental US as a result of ongoing climate changes. In many locales, risk factors for such economically-damaging events are no longer accurately predicted by historical trend analyses. A community's ability to respond to a major storm, and to exhibit resilience afterwards, depends on its capabilities in risk assessment, management, and preparedness. Because of the rapid pace of changes within the global climate system, preparedness for future risks now also depends on understanding that old paradigms about risk may no longer apply. Community resilience, therefore, increasingly depends on adapting to an uncertain level of risk from weather extremes. This presentation will focus on teaching materials being developed by an interdisciplinary team about the hazards associated with major storms and the risk assessment and management tools employed to mitigate those hazards. The materials require that students apply and evaluate concepts in the context of their local community, culminating in the formulation and evaluation of hazard mitigation plan recommendations. These plans are then presented and assessed during a town-hall style meeting. In this role-playing activity, students work in the context of assigned stakeholder positions from their local community. These assignments demonstrate students' ability to develop strategies and recommendations to mitigate local community vulnerabilities to storms with specific emphasis on different sectors and/or stakeholders in that community. Learning objectives for these materials include: developing students' higher order geoscientific skills, from data analysis to critical thinking to effective communication. In addition, the interdisciplinarity of the team piloting the materials will increase the number and diversity of students who learn about Earth in a society context.

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