Coastal Vulnerability Research Cluster

Morro Bay. Photo by J. Langlois.

Mitigating Coastal Vulnerability in a Changing Climate

Climate change demands that scientists connect the technical and the social. Coastal vulnerability and water security issues related to climate change create or exacerbate public health hazards that often incite social unrest and political conflicts. This research cluster unites life, physical, and social scientists to predict and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on water security and social stability.

This research cluster is one of three groups awarded a 2012 Environmental Sciences Network seed grant to pursue major funding for their ideas.

Organizing Ideas

While substantial research has focused on the one-way impacts of upstream nutrient flows and fluxes on watershed functioning and downstream ecosystem services, key reverse linkages that shape public policy, human behaviors, and agricultural and industrial responses to climate change have received much less study, particularly with respect to ensuring water quality and availability.

Using the Great Lakes as a model ecosystem, we seek to quantify and predict climate change-induced impacts on the co-evolution of downstream ecosystem services and upstream human behavior by:

  1. Modeling anticipated climate change-induced impacts on water quality as it pertains to surface and drinking water
  2. Quantifying the impacts of predicted aquatic environment changes with respect to human illness and the overall health and well-being of human populations
  3. Examining how public attitudes and knowledge shape support for policies (incentive-based and regulatory) that influence coupled land-water management practices, and in turn, how heterogeneous farmers and business leaders respond to these policies and public attitudes.
  4. Ultimately, integrate the biophysical models of our study regions with the behavioral models of decision-making and public policy development to predict water quality and public health changes under alternative future scenarios.

This coupled model will be used to address our central research question of whether changes in upstream public attitudes, policies, and farmer /industry behavior can offset the anticipated negative impacts of climate change on downstream ecosystem services.


Link to Coastal Vulnerability group in our Network Directory.

Michael DurandMichael Durand
Earth Sciences
614 247-4835

J. Craig JenkinsJ. Craig Jenkins
614 292-1411

Jiyoung LeeJiyoung Lee
Public Health
614 292-5546

Jay MartinJay Martin
Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
614 247-6133

Mark MoritzMark Moritz
614 247-7426

C. K. ShumC. K. Shum
Earth Science
614 292-7118


Complexity in Human, Natural and Engineered Systems
innovation group comprising more than twenty empirical and theoretical complex systems researchers from ten colleges and schools at Ohio State.

Boy drinking water; College of Public Health

Environmental Health Sciences Division, College of Public Health
Multidisciplinary public health research on both the environmental and biological processes and mechanisms underlying human disease and prevention as well as strategies for disease prevention and health promotion.

Geodetic Science Division logo

Geodetic Sciences Division, School of Earth Sciences
Provide fundamental observations for geodetic control and for many branches of the Earth sciences using a wide range of instruments in situ, on aircraft and on satellites.

maumee river map

People, Climate Change and Lake Erie project
An interdisciplinary effort to determine the link between people’s perception of Lake Erie, how that perception impacts the health of the lake, and how the health of the lake in turn influences people’s perceptions of the ecosystem.

Globe image

Mershon Center for International Studies
The center fosters interdisciplinary research in 1) the use of force and diplomacy; 2) the ideas, identities, and decisional processes that affect security; and 3) the institutions that manage violent conflict.


Jiyoung Lee
Public Health
614 292-5546