Resilience to Water Hazards

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Anthony Kung, University of Queensland
Chloe Begg, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Jiangxiao Qiu, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Although returning quickly to normal after a socio-environmental surprise such as a large flood or drought that has caused devastation to the community and the environment is an understandable reaction, such a reaction could have a negative impact on socio-environmental resilience. Moreover, although systems always learn and change as a result of a surprise, the amount of adaptive learning that occurs could depend upon how many surprises a community has experienced. This project aims to gain a better understanding of this learning process.

It is possible that a swift return to how things were before a disaster could lead to the strengthening of existing vulnerabilities. This means that although communities recovered quickly, they might not necessarily be better able to cope with a future surprise event. Such an outcome means that instead of aiming to return to how things were before a disaster, communities may have to enter into discussions about the types of changes that need to take place in order to adapt and be better able to cope with a future surprise.

In order to improve governance of surprises, this project looks at the interaction between governance and biophysical systems. In a first step, both systems are described separately in order to ascertain how surprise events impact upon them individually. In a second step, the governance and biophysical systems are evaluated in order to understand the impacts of adaptation measures on socio-environmental resilience. This project will achieve this by drawing on research findings from Germany and the USA.

Betsy Breyer, University of Illinois
Kelly Smith, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Sam Zipper, University of Wisconsin - Madison
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