One of the primary long-term goals of the NRT Traineeship is to increase the resilience of communities in the southeastern United States to climate-related hazards through sound science to better understand, predict, and communicate the resilience of natural and social systems. How communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from damaging climate-related natural hazard events is conceptualized in terms of their resilience. Resilience has become the de facto framework for decreasing natural hazard and disaster risk and enhancing disaster preparedness, response, and recovery capacities as a result. Not only is it vital to evaluate and benchmark conditions that lead to resilience, it is equally important to measure factors contributing to adverse impacts and the differential capacities of communities to respond to and rebound from damages caused by natural hazard impacts.

The Disaster Resilience of Place (DROP) Model, that was developed by Susan Cutter and colleagues at the University of South Carolina, provides the theoretical underpinnings for this NRT project. The starting point of the DROP model begins with Initial (or antecedent) Conditions that are measurable and are the product of place-specific and multiscaler processes that occur within and between social, natural, and built environment systems. These conditions interact with hazard event characteristics to produce disaster risk, hazard impacts, and recovery potential. It is within this context that the NRT project focuses on advancements in measuring such initial conditions within natural, social, and built-environment systems, and each of the NRT faculty members concentrates on research within one or more of these distinct systems. This will promote faculty and student research that: 1) facilitates improved predictions of hazard and/or disaster impacts from climate-related events; 2) can be used to develop methods to better understand factors that amplify or attenuate resilience to potential hazard or disaster impacts, which include mitigation and adaptation; 3) informs the development of metrics, models, and tools to predict the recovery of the aforementioned systems; and 4) integrates both “quantitative” and “qualitative” methods for climate-related resilience research.


For the NRT project, we have adopted an integrated approach to resilience, incorporating facets of physical, social sciences, and engineering to examine and increase the resilience of communities to climate-related hazard events. It is within this context that research areas of opportunity include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Improved climate forecasting
  • Climate-related natural hazards risk assessment
  • Measuring uncertainty and sensitivity of climate-related models and resilience models
  • Ecosystem impact and recovery prediction
  • Public policy and planning for resilience enhancement
  • Measuring economic impacts of climate-related hazards on agricultural systems
  • Perception studies: Individual attitudes related to resilience
  • Behavioral studies: Community attitudes and competencies
  • Depicting climate change and resilience at various temporal and spatial scales and across human and physical systems
  • Quantifying the effect of climate changes on streamflow characteristics
  • Improved assessments of land-use/land-cover change
  • Measuring sustainability
  • Understanding the drivers of and predicting residential and business recovery outcomes
  • Improving stakeholder communication
  • Better understanding the overlap of resilience with other concepts such as social vulnerability
  • Measuring community recovery