Researchers in the Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) have partnered with the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Data Science, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science on an initiative bridging global-scale climate dynamics with regional/local processes and systems to guide decision-making for equitable climate resilience and sustainability outcomes. This is a critical knowledge gap in creating actionable solutions to climate change, and one in which UVA is uniquely poised to become a preeminent leader. The initiative’s research objectives are organized around three overarching themes: utilizing downscaling and model-data fusion to make advances in climate science more actionable and equitable at the local scale; leveraging cyber-physical systems (CPS) to advance our ability to monitor energy and water flows within communities, reduce energy consumption at the building scale, and mitigate global climate change impacts to infrastructure systems; and exploring how engineering and nature-based approaches to decarbonization be realistically integrated at the regional scale to cut emissions in line with global climate goals.
Global climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century, and it affects all aspects of our society, including health, commerce, and democracy. Climate impacts are being felt across the United States and the world through extreme weather, changes to our coastal regions, and stress on our food, energy, and water systems, among other impacts. As an example, during the 1990s, the United States experienced 4-5 climate and weather disasters per year with >$1B in damages each; over the most recent decade, the average was closer to 16 per year (NOAA). This places people, infrastructure, and ecosystems at risk, and threatens the critical resources necessary to support a healthy and prosperous society, especially given that these climate impacts have a disproportionate effect on traditionally underserved populations.