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Publication Date
13 December 2022

Quantifying the Compounding, Co-Existing Nature and Inequities of Physical and Transition Risks Across the United States



Physical and transition risks across socio-environmental systems are becoming increasingly complex, multi-faceted, compounding, and span unjust societal landscapes. Multi-Sector Dynamics (MSD) explores the existence and extent that human and natural systems co-exist, interact, and co-evolve. To meet this need, we have developed an open-science, visualization platform that harmonizes, combines, overlays, and diagnoses landscapes of risks and inequities across socio-economics, human health, biodiversity, demographics, as well as the natural, managed, and built environmental systems. The platform’s current geographic focus allows for an MSD-inspired perspective that resolves combinatory-risk landscapes across the United States at the county level. Combinatory-risk indices from weighted composites of a variety of indicators are created and based on user specifications to areas-of-concern.

As a visual example – we demonstrate where “hotspots” of environmental risks compound. As separate mappings (Figure 1a), current risks to land, water availability and quality, and exposure to poor air quality exhibit features not discernably co-located. The resultant landscape of combinatory risk (Figure 1b) exhibits discernable, prominent “hotspots” across California, the Mississippi River basin, the Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic states. Concurrently, another combined transition-risk mapping indicates that the lower Mississippi River contains the largest portion of fossil energy employment along with high levels of poverty and unemployment. This highlights a potential connection between contrasting regional effects of a low-carbon energy transition. Other examples will demonstrate similar connections and compounding landscapes. Quantitative metrics will show the profound effect the incorporation of socio-demographics has on the “top 5 list” of states that experience the most severe compounding physical and transition risks, and underscore the importance of the choice in these metrics are for the interpretation and assessment of priorities into deep-dive analysis and actions.

Schlosser, Adam, Cypress Frankenfeld, Shelli Orzach, Sebastian Eastham, Xiang Gao, Angelo Gurgel, Alyssa McCluskey, et al. 2022. “Quantifying The Compounding, Co-Existing Nature And Inequities Of Physical And Transition Risks Across The United States”. In American Geophysical Union (Agu) Fall Meeting. Chicago, IL/Online.
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