Our problem-driven, collaborative research focuses broadly on urban resilience. Specific ongoing projects look at how resilience is conceptualized and operationalized in urban governance and planning, the different ways in which cities are planning  for resilience to flooding and extreme heat in a changing climate, and the complexities of planning green infrastructure as a strategy to enhance social and ecological resilience. Below are some of the latest projects. 

Meerow is co-leading the new NOAA NIHHIS Center of Excellence, which will support communities in determining the best strategies for local heat mitigation and management, leveraging federal investments to enhance heat resilience, and using decision-support tools to develop data-driven and equity-centered heat strategies. The center is being led as a collaboration between UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation, The University of Arizona, and Arizona State university. 

PURL members are part of a multi-institutional team, led by the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at ASU, that was awarded a $25 million five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to study extreme heat and related challenges across the rapidly expanding megaregion in Arizona that spans from the Mexican border to the Navajo Nation and includes Tucson, Metro Phoenix, and Flagstaff. We will be focusing on investigating solutions to these challenges and expanding some of our heat governance work throughout the region. 

As part of the third cohort of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Early Career Faculty Innovator program, Meerow and students will be collaborating with NCAR scientists to co-develop decision-support tools that communities can use to more strategically and equitably plan green infrastructure to address two of the biggest climate-related challenges: stormwater amanagement and extreme heat. 

Holistic spatial flood vulnerability assessment for historically underserved communities: A trial analysis for Houston, Texas

Funded by the National Science Foundation's Analytics for Equity initiative and in collaboration with ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning faculty colleagues Aaron Flores and Dylan Connor, this project aims to develop and assess a new building-level index of flood risk that facilitates a more comprehensive measurement of concentrated flood risk among underserved communities, and also spatially within the built environment. We will pilot our project through a case study of flood-vulnerable Harris County, Texas, the second most populous county in the US, and home to Houston, Texas.

Funded by NOAA, this project developed and validated a generalizable methodology for assessing heat resilience planning and will make it widely available to all cities in the U.S. through a collaboration with the American Planning Association (APA). More specifically, we will adapt the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard (PIRS) approach, originally developed for flood risk, to the unique challenges of extreme heat. The resulting Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard for Heat methodology will be validated by applying it in geographically diverse US cities. We have also developed a Storymap with final scorecards for all cities where PIRS for Heat has been applied.

PURL members  are active participants in the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research program, a long-term ecological research site that has been funded by NSF for 25 years, and recently renewed for another six years. CAP-LTER is one of two urban sites in the national network, and in the coming years the program will focus on "investigating how relationships between urban ecological infrastructure and human-environment interactions shape the structure and function of urban ecosystems." 

Tempe Cool Kids, Cool Places, Cool Futures

As part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded project, our team and researchers at the University of Arizona applied our Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard for Heat to City of Tempe plans and held an interactive workshop with city officials, heat researchers, and youth council members in November 2022. We will continue to support the city as it works to update its plans. 

Heat Governance and Planning for Extreme Heat

This project, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arizona, seeks to establish the current state of extreme heat planning research and practice across the US. Extreme heat is already the deadliest climate hazard and risks are increasing in cities nationwide due to climate change and the urban heat island effect, yet extreme heat governance is underdeveloped. We completed a systematic literature review of extreme heat planning and conducted a national survey of planning professionals to assess heat risk perceptions, current planning activities, and barriers to action. We are also developing professional guidance for planners on addressing urban heat with the American Planning Association, specifically a PAS Report.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with researchers at Texas A&M University, the Resilience Planning Networks project assesses coordination across government agencies and stakeholders engaged in resilience planning and examines the influence of collaboration on the quality and consistency of city plans and their potential to mitigate vulnerability to flooding. By combining surveys, social network analysis, and the latest techniques in plan evaluation, this study provides insight into government structures and planning processes to address the long-term risk of coastal flooding. The study focuses on four coastal U.S. cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Baltimore, Maryland; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Seattle, Washington.

The Green Infrastructure Spatial Planning (GISP) model provides a stakeholder-driven methodology for identifying priority areas where multiple social and environmental co-benefits of green infrastructure are needed and for assessing tradeoffs and synergies between benefits. The GISP model is made up of six GIS layers corresponding to planning priorities (stormwater management, social vulnerability, access to green space, air quality, the urban heat island effect, and landscape connectivity). Individual criteria are mapped and spatial tradeoffs and synergies assessed. For the Detroit model, the six criteria are weighted based on local stakeholders' priorities. For New York City, Los Angeles, and Manila, a more interactive online app allows the user to set the criteria weights based on their own priorities and visualize the weighted and combined results.

Equitable Green Infrastructure Planning

This project, led by former postdoc Fushcia Hoover, critically examines the rationale that cities provide for implementing green infrastructure and the criteria that they use to determine how green infrastructure gets sited.  We coded 120 plans from 19 U.S. cities to reveal that cities claim many benefits of green infrastructure, that are not translated into siting criteria, and equity is not a focus of siting. We make recommendations for centering justice in green infrastructure planning. 

Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development in Phoenix

Led by the Nature Conservancy and US Bureau of Reclamation, with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, Maricopa County Air Quality Department, and US Geological Survey serving as partners, the “Identifying Key areas in the City of Phoenix for Infiltration and Retention Using Low Impact Development” study focuses on assessing the benefits of LID for stormwater management, water quality, reducing urban heat, and improving air quality in Phoenix. Our contribution to the project includes a literature review of green infrastructure performance in arid environments, and two masters student applied projects modeling urban heat and air quality benefits of different hypothetical LID scenarios developed by the project team. 

Evaluating state policies encouraging the integration of hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation planning

Funded by a National Science Foundation INTERN grant, this project led by PhD student Philip Gilbertson focuses on a new policy in California mandating local climate change adaptation and resilience planning. With California being the first US state to implement such a policy, the project will provide critical insights into the mandate's effectiveness and a better understanding of how local governments integrate climate change adaptation into existing planning frameworks.