Mui Ho
Center for Cities

The Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities transfers knowledge to action to build more equitable and sustainable cities today and in the future.

Civic-Led Urban Adaptation Research Center (CIVIC-UARC)

CIVIC-UARC will coproduce urban climate change research and adaptation strategies in New York City.

Overview

Cars parked outside on along a flooded roadway.

Cities Concentrate Climate Change Risks

Cities concentrate people, wealth, and infrastructure, as well as vulnerability to climate change risks. People who are already socially and economically marginalized are particularly vulnerable to climate risks. City leaders are increasingly aware of the need to build climate resilience, and many have extensive data on climate risks and have begun to implement adaptation measures. What is still missing in most cities is an inclusive, holistic approach that reflects the complexity of climate risks and enables citizens to actively participate in shaping responses. 

Cars parked outside on along a flooded roadway.
A person walking next to a building with the letters, R, I, S, E on it.
A person walking next to a building with the letters, R, I, S, E on it.

Project Objectives

Using an NSF CRISES planning grant, the team is developing a plan for a new Civic-Led Urban Adaptation Research Center (CIVIC-UARC), which will foster new collaborations between an interdisciplinary team of urban experts and diverse institutions, work closely with civil society and public sector stakeholders, and use New York City as an urban laboratory. Our objective is to develop a model for coproduction of knowledge and solutions to address climate risks in cities, with special attention to environmental justice concerns.The work of the Center will train the next generation of climate adaptation scientists and scholars, build climate resilience capacities of local partners, and be a guide for other cities in the U.S. and around the world.

A digital representation of a city with blue, white, and grey rectangular shapes.

Ocellus XR, developed by the Urban Systems Lab at The New School.

Activities

As part of the planning grant, the research teams will be conducting: (1) background research, inventories of data and knowledge gaps, and institutional mapping; (2) monthly virtual meetings of research teams and of research teams and community partners; (3) three workshops that align with each of the three core research areas; and (4) site visits to each of the communities our civil society partners represent.

A digital representation of a city with blue, white, and grey rectangular shapes.

Ocellus XR, developed by the Urban Systems Lab at The New School.

Research Areas

Climate Hazards and Risks

Seeks to enhance our understanding of how climate change hazards are spatially distributed across the city and how human behavior and activity, the urban built environment, and natural processes interact with each other. The goal is to shed light on critical climate resilience challenges, particularly around the impacts of pluvial and coastal flooding, urban heat and heat waves, and air pollution on people, critical infrastructure, and services.

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity

Inventories existing climate change vulnerability data at the household level, as well as the capacity for civil society and public sector to address and implement measures of climate change adaptation across NYC. The team includes several members from the U.S. Forest Service, who are responsible for the STEW-MAP dataset that measures the capacity for civil society organizations to engage in environmental stewardship. To ensure the project is meaningful to communities in New York City, the team includes two civil society organizations: Universe City in Brooklyn and RISE in the Rockaways.

Digital Twin and Urban Technology

Examines the utility of a digital twin of NYC—an open computational platform for decision makers in the public and private sectors, researchers, civil society, and the general public to better understand climate-related issues and potential solutions. It leverages the information-gathering mechanisms in a city to provide a close-to-real representation backed by live data streams. A digital twin can also provide advanced computational modeling and analyses, which is especially useful in planning scenarios to engage communities in strategizing for climate adaptation.

Workshops

Researchers

Sean C. Ahearn

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Hunter College (CUNY)

Victoria A. Beard

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of City and Regional Planning
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Jill Bellovin

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Universe City NYC

Lindsay Campbell

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
USDA Forest Service

Elizabeth Cook

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of Environmental Science
Barnard College

Alana Danieu

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
RISE Rockaway

George Del Barrio

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Universe City NYC

Timur Dogan

Climate Hazards and Risks
Department of Architecture and department of Design Tech
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Jeanne DuPont

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
RISE Rockaway

Farzin Lotfi-Jam

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Architecture
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Joe Ferdinando

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Mui Ho Center for Cities
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Michelle Johnson

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
USDA Forest Service

Wendy Ju

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Information Science
CORNELL TECH

Chris Kennedy

Climate Hazards and Risks
Urban Systems Lab
The New School

Nicholas Klein

Climate Hazards and Risks
Department of City and Regional Planning
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Alex Kobald

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Architecture
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Jesse LeCavalier

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of Architecture
CORNELL University

Brittany Markowitz

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Universe City NYC

Timon McPhearson

Climate Hazards and Risks
Urban Systems Lab
The New School

Alexis Mena

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Universe City NYC

Franklyn Mena

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Universe City NYC

Ahmed Mustafa

Climate Hazards and Risks
Urban Systems Lab
The New School

Sophie Oldfield

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of City and Regional Planning
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Luis Ortiz

Climate Hazards and Risks
Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences
George Mason University

Natalia Piland

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
USDA Forest Service

Anita Raja

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of Computer Science
Hunter College (CUNY)

Peter Robinson

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of Architecture
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Linda Shi

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
Department of City and Regional Planning
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Ioannis Stamos

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Computer Science
Hunter College (CUNY)

Shipeng Sun

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Hunter College (CUNY)

Erica Svendsen

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
USDA Forest Service

Anthony Townsend

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
CORNELL TECH

Ben Wilde

Project and Research Coordinator
Mui Ho Center for Cities
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Wenfei Xu

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Department of City and Regional Planning
CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Research Assistants

Jeremiah Clayton '24

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
Hunter College (CUNY)

Debargha Dey '24

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
CORNELL tech

 

Matt Franchi '27

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Dong Hak Lee (M.S. RS '24)

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Stacey Li '24

Digital Twin and Urban Technology
CORNELL TECH

Ishita Rahman '25

Climate Hazards and Risks
The New School

Avery Sirwatka '24

Climate Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity
CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Institutional Partners

The project team is composed of faculty members and student researchers from Cornell University; Hunter College, City University of New York; George Mason University; The New School; Barnard College, scientists from the USDA U.S. Forest Service; and fellow investigators from Universe City and RISE.

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