The Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative Integrated Field Laboratory

Authors

Ben Zaitchik* (zaitchik@jhu.edu)

Institutions

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Abstract

The Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative (BSEC) seeks a new paradigm for urban climate research. Inspired by the Urban Integrated Field Laboratory (IFL) call to provide knowledge that informs equitable solutions that can strengthen community-scale resilience, BSEC proposes a people-centered, transdisciplinary IFL. BSEC begins with community priorities (human health and safety, affordable energy, transportation equity, and others) and city government priorities (clean waterways, decarbonization, functioning infrastructure) and designs observation networks and models that will deliver the climate science capable of supporting those priorities. This means that BSEC takes the form of an iterative collaborative cycle, in which an initial observation and modeling strategy is continuously updated in conversation with community partners. The guiding objective of this cycle is to produce the urban climate science needed to inform community-guided “potential equitable pathways” for climate action. In doing so, researchers address a number of fundamental urban science questions from across natural and social science disciplines.

The BSEC Equitable Pathways approach aligns urban science with information needs through coupled cycles of model and observation improvement and participatory assessment of climate risks in the context of multiple, potentially competing priorities. Recognizing that city residents and institutions have diverse and sometimes competing goals, researchers place a multiobjective analysis tool at the center of their work. This analysis tool offers an integrating nexus to inform and challenge urban climate science with the decision needs of the residents and stakeholders who ultimately determine the success of climate action.