GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 204-3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


DONER, Lisa A., Environmental Science and Policy Program, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH 03264, STAPLETON, Patricia, Social Science and Policy Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609 and MOTOLA, Lorraine, Disaster Response and Recovery, Metropolitan College of New York, New York, NY 10006,

Major storms can significantly impact communities in their path and these impacts are likely to increase over time. Regional climate models predict higher frequency of storms associated with extreme precipitation and flooding, a leading factor in loss of life and property. Under accelerated climate change, old paradigms about risk can fail to prepare communities to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Societal resilience increasingly depends on better awareness of risks, how risks change in dynamic systems, and creative strategies for adaptation.

Major storm impacts tend to be viewed through geophysical lenses, even in the communication of hazards by meteorologists and emergency managers. But geologic variables such as sea level rise, sediment budgets and dune formation/erosion, and topography often combine with societal variables such as population density, vital infrastructure vulnerability and emergency planning to influence the severity of a storm's impact. To enhance the ability of communities to respond appropriately to major storms, and to exhibit long-term resilience to extreme events, we suggest advancing individual capabilities in risk assessment, management and preparedness using an integrated geophysical and social systems approach.

An outcome of NSF's InTeGrate Program, our interdisciplinary team (geologist Doner, emergency manager Motola and sociologist Stapleton), developed an educational module that trains individuals in storm systems and risk uncertainty. Our overall aim is to promote a citizenry informed of potential risks, effective mitigation and response strategies to major storm events and to reduce individual and community demand for emergency measures.

The module, adaptable for use in any region, has been pilot tested and evaluated and is now available through Creative Commons license on the SERC website ( This presentation covers some key components of the module, challenges the audience to participate and discover non-intuitive vulnerabilities and to identify strategies for resilience. We also report on elements that proved most challenging for participants (and faculty) in different disciplines.

  • 2017 GSA.pptx (5.0 MB)