Miami UREx Synthesis
Miami UREx City Team: Evelyn Gaiser, Kevin Grove, John Kominoski, Rink Roy-Chouwdhury, Tiffany Troxler, Allain Barnett
Research Fellows and Interns: Matt Smith, Marbelys Garriga, Nadia Sestreem
Existing SETS Conditions
Miami was dealing with many complex challenges when the UREx SRN began in 2016. Southeast Florida is considered one of the most vulnerable regions in the US to the impacts of climate extremes. Like many densely-populated coastal areas, multiple hazards intersect here such as sea-level rise, rising temperatures, changes in precipitation, and increasing frequency of intense storms. Complicating these challenges are social inequities and a legacy of racial segregation producing disproportionate vulnerability for low-wealth communities.
Co-Producing Futures and Anticipatory Capacities
Miami held its urban futures Scenarios Workshop in April 2019 with approximately 40 representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, NGO’s, universities, and design and engineering professionals. We co-produced six future scenarios for Miami in the year 2080, including adaptation to Compound Flooding and Extreme Heat, developing community visions for Eco-City and Food Systems, a Smart and Connected City, and Economic Prosperity and Justice.
The following products from the workshop describe the future visions co-produced for Miami:
- A report summarizing the main goals and strategies for each scenario.
- Data visualizations for key social, ecological and technological system attributes
Next steps include:
- Visualizations and narratives for select future scenarios, and potential qualitative assessment of the Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability (RESQ)
- Renderings of what the city (or parts of the city) could look like in the future.
Participants saw opportunities for alignment with existing development plants including the Miami Forever Climate Ready Strategy and the Miami-Dade County-level Sea Level Rise Strategy. UREx scenario strategies may also contribute to advancing implementation of the Resilient305 Strategy.
Advancing research on extreme events
Through multi-city collaboration, our team has built upon traditional ecological theory to understand coupled socio-environmental drivers of urban and coastal flooding across UREx cities. Specifically, team members have performed cross-city comparisons of hydro-climatological drivers of flood potential across diverse urban landscapes.
In Miami, our team has addressed local environmental concerns through long-term water quality monitoring amid changing climatic conditions in partnership with the City of Miami and City of Coral Gables. Data gathered through these initiatives provide vital information to address current and future threats to ecosystem health in our waterways and Biscayne Bay.
In collaboration with practitioners in Valdivia, Chile and Portland, OR, we evaluated the ecological function of urban wetlands to improve water quality. Apart from the local implications of this work, we have identified urban wetlands as small-scale green infrastructure features that provide immense nutrient removal capacity across a range of urban landscapes.
Resilience planning leading to new research opportunities
Our team was active in the 100 Resilient Cities resilience planning process, with team members contributing to and participating in regular workshops on opportunities preparing for integrating nature-based projects and facilitating a just recovery. This work highlighted important knowledge gaps that could be addressed with urban resilience research.
For instance, understanding green infrastructure, particularly nature-based features and living shorelines as part of resilient adaptation, and the specific and measurable resilience benefits, is largely an open question. It is important to understand how a city’s historical development trajectory shapes its current vulnerabilities and capacities because this influences what a future resilient city might look like. In Miami’s case, the region’s history of segregated development and racially-exclusionary governance created a number of challenges and opportunities for the region’s resilience planners. What stood out in the Miami case was the active role community-based social and climate justice organizations played in highlighting equity and justice concerns that could be addressed through resilience initiatives.