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Study Sectors

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Large cities are at the forefront of both vulnerability and adaptation to climate impacts. These cities are commonly located on coastlines and are home to a rapidly growing percentage of the earth’s people. The need for understanding climate impacts in urban areas is growing, as urban dwellers and decision-makers are being challenged to devise new types of adaptations and adjustments. For a global city such as the New York Metropolitan Region, climate variability and change present complex challenges and opportunities.

The Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment is one of eighteen regional components of The U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, organized by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The goal of each regional assessment is to investigate potential impacts of climate variability and change on the natural systems and human activities of a specific geographical area of the United States. Major objectives are to identify sectors that are vulnerable to the additional stresses that climate change and increased climate variability will introduce and to examine feasible adaptation strategies. The Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment focuses on climate variability and change in a major urban center.

The Assessment covers the 31 counties of the New York City metropolitan region. The area consists of 13,000 square miles, with jurisdictions involving 1,600 cities, towns, and villages in the three states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The last U.S. Census (1990) numbered the total regional population at 19.6 million, of which 7.3 million live in New York City.

The MEC Regional Assessment examines how three interacting elements of global cities react and respond to climate variability and change. The three elements are: people (i.e., socio-demographic conditions), place (i.e., physical and ecological systems), and pulse (i.e., decision-making and economic activities).
The MEC Regional Assessment examines how three interacting elements of large cities react and respond to climate variability and change. The three elements are: people (i.e., socio-demographic conditions), place (i.e., physical and ecological systems), and pulse (i.e., decision-making and economic activities). Seven sector studies form the core of the interacting elements:

  1. Coasts
  2. Wetlands
  3. Transportation Infrastructure
  4. Water Supply Management
  5. Public Health
  6. Energy
  7. Institutional Decision-Making

The sector studies address climate impacts through analysis of historical climate trends, responses to extreme climatic events, and scenario projections. Key to the assessment process is the focus on identifying vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies, policy recommendations, and gaps in knowledge. Each sector of the MEC Assessment collaborates with representatives from one or more relevant stakeholder institutions.

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