Sara Meerow

Sara Meerow
Arizona State University | ASU · School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Ph.D.

About

45
Publications
48,519
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3,538
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Introduction
I am an Associate Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. I am an interdisciplinary social-ecological systems scientist working at the intersection of urban geography and planning. My research addresses the challenge of making cities resilient. Specifically, I work on the theory and practice of urban resilience, green infrastructure planning, and urban climate change adaptation planning.

Publications

Publications (45)
Article
Full-text available
Fostering resilience in the face of environmental, socioeconomic, and political uncertainty and risk has captured the attention of academics and decision makers across disciplines, sectors, and scales. Resilience has become an important goal for cities, particularly in the face of climate change. Urban areas house the majority of the world's popula...
Article
Full-text available
In academic and policy discourse, the concept of urban resilience is proliferating. Social theorists, especially human geographers, have rightfully criticized that the underlying politics of resilience have been ignored and stress the importance of asking " resilience of what, to what, and for whom? " This paper calls for careful consideration of n...
Article
Full-text available
A growing number of cities are incorporating resilience into their plans and policies to respond to shocks, stresses, and uncertainties. While some scholars advocate for the potential of resilience research and practice, others argue that it promotes an inherently conservative and neoliberal agenda, prevents systemic transformations, and pays insuf...
Article
Full-text available
Cities face numerous environmental challenges. Local governments need the public’s support to tackle these problems, and scholars and practitioners have suggested that framing initiatives around resilience, as opposed to sustainability, reducing vulnerability, or adaptation, may increase public support for local action. Resilience, they argue, has...
Article
Full-text available
2022): Comparing hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation planning approaches, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Cities are developing hazard mitigation plans (HMP) and climate change adaptation plans (CCAP) with the common aim of proactively reducing vulnerability to future hazards. Yet, they are often treated as distinct pl...
Article
Full-text available
Urban agriculture provides a range of ecosystem services (as well as potential disservices). This study examines the spatial extent, physical characteristics, and residents' perceptions of community and private gardens in Detroit, a city that has high potential for agricultural development given its abundant vacant and abandoned land. Despite popul...
Article
Full-text available
Communities create a variety of plans that collectively shape future development patterns. Methodological approaches to analyze multiple plans and their relationships have been underdeveloped. We compare four complementary methodological approaches to study the relationships between plans: (1) cross-referencing, (2) plan quality evaluation, (3) pla...
Book
Full-text available
Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. As average global temperatures continue to rise, the threats of both extreme heat events and chronic heat are projected to increase. Heat disproportionately affects marginalized residents and those who face systematic inequities such as workplace safety, housing quality, energy af...
Article
Extreme heat is the deadliest climate hazard in the United States. Climate change and the urban heat island effect are increasing the number of dangerously hot days in cities worldwide and the need for communities to plan for extreme heat. Existing literature on heat planning focuses on heat island mapping and modeling, whereas few studies delve in...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cities are developing hazard mitigation plans (HMP) and climate change adaptation plans (CCAP) with the common aim of proactively reducing vulnerability to future hazards. Yet they are often treated as distinct planning instruments. Some planning scholars have suggested that HMP and CCAP should be integrated since climate change impacts are increas...
Article
Full-text available
Green infrastructure is an increasingly popular strategy to simultaneously address challenges associated with urbanization and global environmental change, including increased flooding and rising temperatures. While many cities aim to expand green infrastructure to deliver ecosystem services, their impacts will be limited without significant uptake...
Article
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While the concept of green infrastructure (GI) is increasingly popular, definitions, terminology, and goals differ based on geographic and disciplinary context. This paper examines these differences through a three-part systematic review: 1) content analysis of academic GI review publications, 2) bibliometric review of academic publications focusin...
Article
Full-text available
Urban resilience has gained considerable popularity in planning and policy to address cities’ capacity to cope with climate change. While many studies discuss the different ways that academics define resilience, little attention has been given to how resilience is conceptualized across different urban contexts and among the actors that engage in bu...
Article
Full-text available
Cities need heat governance to plan for extreme temperatures and protect those most at risk. Cities need heat governance to plan for extreme temperatures and protect those most at risk.
Preprint
Full-text available
Problem, Research Strategy, and Findings: Extreme heat is the deadliest climate hazard in the United States. Climate change and the urban heat island effect are increasing the number of dangerously hot days in cities worldwide and the need for communities to plan for extreme heat. Existing literature on heat planning focuses on heat island mapping...
Technical Report
Heat is the deadliest weather-related hazard in the United States, posing a growing and inequitable threat to human health, infrastructure, and economic and ecological systems. Communities are getting hotter due to climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Cities across the country must prepare for unprecedented heat and address system...
Article
Full-text available
As climate change increases flood risk, there is growing recognition that the multiple plans cities adopt often work at cross purposes and encourage development in areas at risk of current and future flooding. There have been calls for a more coordinated approach to planning for current and future flood risks, but is planning rising to the challeng...
Article
Full-text available
Green infrastructure (GI) has become a panacea for cities working to enhance sustainability and resilience. While the rationale for GI primarily focuses on its multifunctionality (e.g. delivering multiple ecosystem services to local communities), uncertainties remain around how, for whom, and to what extent GI delivers these services. Additionally,...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanization can negatively affect residents' health and wellbeing. Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is increasingly advocated as a win-win strategy for addressing multiple urban problems. Literature quantifying GSI benefits is growing, but it is unclear how it performs in arid and semi-arid cities. This study, co-designed with practitioner pa...
Article
Urban agriculture is widely promoted as a strategy to advance sustainability goals. Urban community gardens serve as multifunctional green infrastructure, providing an array of social and environmental co-benefits. While these services, such as increased access to nutritious food, have been studied extensively, research on siting community gardens...
Article
Full-text available
Extreme heat is a growing concern for cities, with both climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect increasingly impacting public health, economies, urban infrastructure, and urban ecology. To better understand the current state of planning for extreme heat, we conducted a systematic literature review. We found that most of the research f...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes how urban resilience governance is structured and coordinated in 20 North American cities (19 US and one Canadian) based on interviews with city officials. This co-produced research evolved out of conversations with city officials in Portland, Oregon, who were interested to learn how other cities were organising resilience work...
Article
Full-text available
As greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts increase worldwide, there is an urgent need for communities, and thus urban planners, to simultaneously mitigate and adapt to climate change. We synthesize recent research to examine whether the field of planning is adequately addressing climate change. We conclude that although there has been...
Article
Full-text available
A growing number of cities are investing in green infrastructure to foster urban resilience and sustainability. While these nature-based solutions are often promoted on the basis of their multifunctionality, in practice, most studies and plans focus on a single benefit, such as stormwater management. This represents a missed opportunity to strategi...
Article
While studies have suggested that climate change adaptation will require dynamic sets of knowledge types—scientific, technical, local, and tacit—about complex, interconnected problems across spatial and temporal scales, less attention has been directed to how these different ways of knowing might be used to transform specific urban knowledge system...
Article
Full-text available
Research on ecosystem services (ES) has largely focused on the ecological functions that produce services or the economic valuation of the benefits provided by ecosystems. Far less research has examined public perceptions of ES, and more so ecosystem disservices (EDS), despite evidence that ecosystem properties and functions can produce beneficial...
Preprint
Full-text available
A growing number of cities are incorporating resilience into their plans and policies to respond to shocks, stresses, and uncertainties. While some scholars advocate for the potential of resilience research and practice, others argue that it promotes an inherently conservative and neoliberal agenda, prevents systemic transformations, and pays insuf...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience has experienced exponential growth in scholarship and practice over the past several decades. We conduct a meta-analysis of recent review papers on resilience from all relevant fields to distill key themes emanating from both research and practice. These themes reflect prevalent debates, trends and insights from the thousands of underlyi...
Article
Full-text available
Increasingly, local governments are creating resilience plans. What do these plans contain and how do they compare to other efforts to plan for climate change? We use plan evaluation to analyze resilience plans from U.S. cities in the 100 Resilient Cites program and compare them to 44 climate change adaptation plans. Resilience plans lack critical...
Article
Full-text available
Coastal megacities pose a particular challenge for climate change adaptation and resilience planning. These dense concentrations of population, economic activity, and consumption—the majority of which are in the Global South—are often extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and extreme weather. This paper unpacks these...
Article
Cities are expanding green infrastructure to enhance resilience and ecosystem services. Although green infrastructure is promoted for its multifunctionality, projects are typically sited based on a particular benefit, such as stormwater abatement, rather than a suite of socio-economic and environmental benefits. This stems in part from the lack of...
Article
Full-text available
In the face of climate change, scholars and policymakers are increasingly concerned with fostering "urban resilience". This paper seeks to contribute towards a better understanding of synergies and differences in how academics and local decision-makers think about resilience in the context of climate change. We compare definitions and characteristi...
Article
Full-text available
In academic and policy discourse, the concept of urban resilience is proliferating. Social theorists, especially human geographers, have rightfully criticized that the underlying politics of resilience have been ignored and stress the importance of asking "resili-ence of what, to what, and for whom?" This paper calls for careful consideration of no...
Article
Full-text available
Local governments are on the front line of efforts to address climate-related impacts. Recognizing this, there is a growing movement to develop and deliver tools, resources, and services to support local communities’ climate adaptation initiatives. There is, however, limited understanding of what specific types of resources exist and how well these...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience is an increasingly popular concept in academic research and public discourse and is closely connected to complex systems theory. This article reviews research on resilience and complexity in industrial ecology and the broader academy by conducting a bibliometric analysis of the academic literature over a 40-year period (1973–2014). The r...
Article
In the light of cumbersome national energy transitions, cities across the world are increasingly taking the lead in promoting renewable energy on the municipal level. Whereas cities in Europe and the United States are the most prominent pioneers of this trend, the need for renewable energy in Western cities is in fact less urgent. Energy savings of...
Article
Full-text available
“Resilience thinking” is an increasingly popular approach among scholars and policymakers, with advocates heralding it as the successor to the dominant sustainable development paradigm. Resilience refers to the ability to handle unforeseen changes and the capacity for adaption and self-improvement as a result. This article examines two programs for...
Technical Report
Full-text available
With this briefing, ICLEI and the University of Amsterdam present seven selected examples of cities from around the globe where local governments have taken steps to create such a city cluster for the renewable energy sector. Role of local governments in promoting renewable energy businesses has been developed by the University of Amsterdam in coll...
Article
Full-text available
This chapter first discusses some of the established literature on the effects of natural resource abundance on democratization and then shows how an empirical analysis of the relationship supports the theoretical expectations. We also reveal an under-researched aspect of the “resource curse. On the basis of data from the forty-eight African countr...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
The combination of climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect is increasing the number of dangerously hot days and the need for all communities to plan for urban heat resilience equitably. Urban heat resilience requires an integrated planning approach that coordinates strategies across community plans and uses the best available heat risk information to prioritize heat mitigation strategies for the most vulnerable communities. The Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard™ (PIRS™) for Heat is an approach that communities can use to analyze how heat mitigation policies are integrated into different plans and to identify opportunities to better target heat mitigation policies in high heat risk areas. The PIRS™ for Heat was developed as an extension of the original Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard™, a methodology, originally developed by Berke et al. (2015) and then further advanced and translated to planning practice by Malecha et al. (2019), for spatially evaluating networks of plans to reduce vulnerability to hazards. With support from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office’s Extreme Heat Risk Initiative and in partnership with the American Planning Association, PIRS™ for Heat was piloted in five geographically diverse U.S. communities, including Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Seattle, WA, and Houston, TX. Adapting the process detailed in Malecha et al. (2019) to heat, the project team analyzed all policies in each community’s network of plans, including their comprehensive plans, hazard mitigation plans, climate action plans, and climate change adaptation, resilience, or sustainability plans. Policies were only included if they had the potential to impact urban heat, were place-specific and contained a recognizable policy tool. Policies were then scored based on whether they would likely mitigate heat (“+1”), worsen heat (“-1”), or the impact was unclear from the description in the plan (“Unknown”). Scored policies were mapped to relevant census tracts across the communities to evaluate their spatial distribution and the net effect on urban heat. The resulting PIRS™ for Heat scorecard was then compared with physical and social vulnerability data to assess policy alignment with heat risks and to identify opportunities for improved urban heat resilience planning.
Project
Our research team is studying how planning professionals address extreme heat. Our goal is to survey planning professionals from a wide range of U.S. communities to better understand how heat risk perceptions, current planning activities, and barriers to action vary across the county. This will be useful for researchers, urban planners, emergency responders, policymakers, and climate service providers.
Project
This UREx SRN research theme focuses on two primary objectives: (1) the conceptual development of a framework for understanding social value creation in the climate adaptation and resilience context and (2) knowledge exchange between cities: sharing successful climate projects that have generated significant social values in addition to mitigating climate risks such as droughts, heat waves, urban flooding, coastal flooding, and sea level rise. The second objective is achieved through the development and publication of the Social Value of Adaptation and Resilience Case Study Database.