Originally posted 09/23/2016
This past week, the team met for an update on the progress of the MEGADAPT model prototype. Because it is a double-coupled model, the model building process has been (and still is) complicated; not only do agents, or people, act on the landscape/infrastructure, but the changes in the landscape/infrastructure affect the decisions that the agents make within the model environment.
After many months, members of the team have created a one-directional theoretical agent model that demonstrates a theoretical relationship between populations’ experience of water stress, water managers’ decisions, and the resulting quality of, or investment in, water infrastructure. We are excited that this initial prototype appears to capture effectively how different investment priorities of water managers can result in very distinct patterns of investment in the landscape, and thus affect the distribution of vulnerability of urban residents to water stress.
Patterns of urbanization will also affect the distribution of water related risk in the city. Nevertheless, there are challenges in creating reliable scenarios of the spatial pattern of urbanization into the future. The MEGADAPT team has explored the utility of two different models. These two models create similar patterns of urbanization, although one model appears to better represent the “worst case” of urbanization: what might be expected if the Valle de Mexico urbanized to its greatest extent.
The MEGADAPT model aims to provide coarse-resolution outputs for consideration in decision making. For example, we aim to help decision-makers focus on broader level questions such as: “What might be the implications for hydrological risks if existing areas of green space (i.e., Xochimilco, Texcoco lake) are largely urbanized?” or “What differences might emerge in the distribution of vulnerability if agricultural land is aggressively conserved?”
These scenarios would potentially provide useful information on the social, ecological and infrastructural benefits and risks associated with very distinct solution pathways. Should these pathways seem attractive to decision makers in the city, the next step would be the more detailed evaluation of their suitability and mode of implementation in particular places given local conditions and aspirations.
The meeting concluded in review of the goal of the double-coupled model: through the biophysical models there will be changes in the state of the system (i.e. where flood risk occurs), and that will affect how the actor responds in time through their decision-making criteria. When some thresh-hold(s) of change occurs in the landscape, the priorities of the agents may be changed. In summary, the state of the environment changes the prioritization of the actors; simple to say, but not easy to model.
Originally posted 09/07/2016
As the new school year in Arizona Begins (project year 3), we are beginning to complete the inputs of the integrated model. To date, These inputs Have Been developed as stand alone products. Last week, Dr. Enrique Vivoni (ASU) and his student Kristen Whitney (ASU) presented Their work on the hydrological input piece of the model. Over the summer, hydrological dataset They Examined Which would best serve the MEGADAPT project in terms of resolution and for Developing climate scenarios for the model. Because climate models are based on scenario historical data, we must think critically About the rationale used for Selecting the input data so we can justify the That reliability of / Appropriately interpret the model outputs. As the end product for esta piece of the integrated model, we plan to have two hydrological climate scenarios. As We think about combining These biophysical / ecological datasets With our sociological data We Have to Think About the time step for the model as a whole. Hydrological data can be modeled on a daily time step, but sociological data, decision-making: such as policy and Changes, Takes place over many Typically different kinds of time steps- monthly, yearly, or even decadally. We will continue to mull over These questions (and we welcome reader comments!) … .but Check in with us again soon for an update from the team working on the land change modeling piece of the project!
This was originally posted 05/31/2016
We have been busy over the last five months, analyzing the mental models, data sets, and developing the quantitative models that are the foundation of MEGADAPT. Now the next step is the integration: representing mental models in a GIS platform, and creating a simple agent-based model that will integrate the essential inputs and outputs of the biophysical and social system drivers. After our annual meeting in May 5-7 2016, we began to compile all the inputs that play critical roles in driving vulnerability in the city, including mental model for select agents, data sets for Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF model), and the underground and surface water models.
We had a successful annual meeting, where all of the teams presented advances and progress. The health team has begun to estimate the probability of diseases (gastrointestinal) using a model that integrates biophysical infrastructure, climate and hydrological dynamics, and socio-economic determinants of gastrointestinal diseases in Mexico City. Their efforts will result in a quantitative measure of risk using health data sets from the Public Health secretary (Secretaría de Salud). This effort includes a spatial analysis and a first draft of a scientific paper. The LULC team (Land cover change) started to identify political and institutional agents that affect the expansion of urbanization in Mexico City. They identified three agents: residents who expand housing in the watershed and urban core, Delegations, who facilitate or constrain urban expansion, and city-level urban authorities. Using this information the team will explore the relationship between population density and hydrological risk in Mexico City. In terms of water infrastructure, key agents are represented by SACMEX (water management authority in Mexico City), OCVAM (Organismo de Cuenca Aguas del Valle de México) and residents who autonomously manage flooding and water scarcity challenges. Our challenge now is to accurately represent the essence of how these diverse actors perceive the water problems and how those perceptions affect their actions in the city via representing mental models in a geospatial context. We are basing our analysis on 75 interviews, 12 focus groups and 11 participatory workshops, and feel very fortunate that so many actors in the city have shared their perspectives with us.
At the same time, we have been exploring approaches to sustainability science and transdisciplinary in others institutions and projects. The MEGADAPT project is now part of an international network of organizations fostering innovative approaches to sustainable transformation, funded by the ISSC and coordinated by the STEPS Centre (www.steps-centre.org) as part of the North American Hub (http://steps-centre.org/about/global/; http://steps-centre.org/2016/blog/seeking-sustainable-transformations-around-the-world/?referralDomain=) This relationship provided the opportunity for some members of the team to participate in the STEPS summer school at the University of Sussex in the UK, where they learned new methods for analyzing sustainability challenges. Furthermore, this experience permitted the creation of a new network for sharing experience, challenges and knowledge with colleagues from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. We will be exploring some of these new methods to our ongoing interactions with diverse stakeholders in Mexico City with the aim of creating opportunities for socio-ecological transformations.
This was originally posted 04/12/2015
The MEGADAPT team has been busy this fall, integrating the diversity of data sets, visions and ideas that were shared with us this past year. We’ve begun to develop the architecture of what will evolve to be the “MEGADAPT” model of Mexico City as a dynamic social-ecological system, in which hydrological risk is created and mitigated through the interactions of diverse actors in the city with each other, with the built environment and watershed. Our modeling effort incorporates surface and groundwater dynamics, land use change and climatic responses, the evolution of the built environment in terms of policy initiatives and population density, infrastructure, and the actions of key actors in response to risk. We have been very fortunate to have had the support and collaboration of diverse actors in the city: experts in Sistemas de Agua de la Ciudad de México (SACMEX), Secretaría de Medio Ambiente del Distrito Federal (SEDEMA), Procuradoría Ambiental y del Ordenamiento Territorial (PAOT), and Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED); academics from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Instituto Mora, as well as the generous contributions from chinamperos, pesqueros, communities involved in ecotourism activities, community development activists and civil society groups focused on urban development and water in the city as a whole and in our case study areas (Magdalena Contreras, Xochimilco, and Iztapalapa).
We are now in the process of analyzing the different visions offered to us by our collaborators about how the city works and the complex causes and consequences of vulnerability to water-related risks – in other words, the diversity of mental models held by the city’s stakeholders. It is clear that depending on where you are in the city and on what has been your experience and depending on your formal responsibilities, you will prioritize and act on different aspects of risk. For some, water quality is the critical concern, affecting their daily lives in transformative ways. Poor water quality affects household expenditures, health, and overall quality of life. For others, the burden of seasonal flooding is a primary concern, particularly since the water that enters their homes and stagnates in their neighborhoods is a noxious mix of sewage and rainwater. Many areas in the city still struggle with water access, and must organize their domestic activities around the timing of water availability. These circumstances have created distrust and frustration in many neighborhoods, as residents have felt obligated to manage their risk on their own, rather than rely on public sector initiatives to resolve the circumstances they face. Thus in all cases, households demonstrate significant resilience – although this resilience comes at the cost of anxiety, time, property and expenditure in auxiliary water resources. In the public sector we see similar frustrations, as officials work with limitations in budgets, chronic problems with infrastructure and the difficulties of coordinating planning across sector agencies.
The challenge of capturing the experiences and reality of socio-hydrological risk in the megacity is daunting. We hope that we will soon have a decision-platform – the MEGADAPT model — that will allow us to share the knowledge we have collected with the city’s residents. It is through this decision-platform that we hope we will be able to contribute to enhancing the sustainability of the city’s water resources.
This was originally posted 03/09/2015
It has been a productive first 9 months for the MEGADAPT project. The transdisciplinary intent of the project has made introducing the project to relevant public sector agencies and citizen groups a priority this year. As a result of this effort, we have begun a number of productive collaborations focused on the exchange of information, knowledge, priorities and concerns related to social-hydrological risk in the megalopolis. We hope that these relationships will continue over the course of the project, and that we will be able to increasingly involve the various agencies and groups in the project’s implementation.
The project aims to synthesize existing knowledge in a new, interactive decision-platform. We would like all the different agencies and groups we have worked with in the project to be able to see how their contribution and knowledge is reflected in this decision-platform. Our aim is thus to create a “boundary object” – an instrument for knowledge synthesis, exploration and decision-making – to facilitate vulnerability reduction in the city. Thus our work this past year has focused on identifying and compiling relevant datasets and knowledge, and we have appreciated the willingness of researchers and public agencies to share their knowledge with our team.
We have focused understanding how different segments of society perceive the threats of flooding and water scarcity, and how they conceptualize the diversity of factors that exacerbate or mitigate these threats. We have conducted some 60 interviews to date, as well as X# workshops with different actors in Magdalena Contreras, Iztapalapa and Xochimilco as part of our effort to understand the diversity of “mental models” held by different actors in the city. Our aim is to translate these mental models into geospatial map layers, using MCDA-GIS, representing the different priorities and different capacities for action of the groups we have consulted with in this first stage of the project (see Research approaches and methods).
Meanwhile, our biophysical team has been working hard to organize the data inputs for the various climatic, hydrological, infrastructural and health risk modeling components of the project (see Research approaches and methods). We already have some preliminary results from our efforts to model changes in local climatic conditions that confirms what many may suspect: at the scale of the Valley of Mexico, the influence of urbanization on changes in precipitation and temperature has historically been significant (see Publications and Presentations).
We are also excited about the potential of our efforts to model health risk related to flooding in the city. While establishing the causal linkages between health outcomes and flooding is extremely challenging, we have been encouraged by the profound interest in this topic in different public agencies and among city residents, and are hopeful that we will be able to attack the problem creatively, using available data as well as engaging residents themselves in data collection.
We plan to keep up our blog periodically, informing any visitors to our site of new developments in the project, additions to our website and the findings as they emerge.
Thank you for joining us!
A collaborative project seeking to improve capacities for risk management in Mexico City and to serve as a model for climate-change adaptation in developing countries.