Speakers » Scott C. Hagen

  • Professor

  • University of Central Florida

  • United States

Dr. Scott C. Hagen is a Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1998.  He has a P.E. with the State of Florida, is a Diplomate of both Coastal and Water Resources Engineering, and was named a Fellow of ASCE in 2013. His research is in the area of coastal hydroscience, specifically massively parallel, high performance computational modeling of ocean, coastal, and inland astronomic and meteorological (i.e., wind and pressure variations) tides and flows. His team is developing geospatial data fusion techniques that use high-resolution satellite imagery to assess and improve coastal and estuarine models. Dr. Hagen’s recent efforts expand into transport and biological modeling, particularly with respect to the coastal dynamics of sea level rise. Also important is his contribution to pedagogical research, environmental education and outreach. He leads a team working with industry and government counterparts to develop coastal inundation models to support FEMA flood plain mapping for the Florida panhandle and the Alabama coastal areas and participates on the FEMA team covering the east Florida / Georgia coasts.  His present focus on the coastal dynamics of sea level rise is aiding coastal planners around the State of Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Breakout Session: Communicating Coastal Risks with Interactive Sea Level Rise Viewers: A Comparative Analysis*

This presentation will center on digital tools that communicate about sea level rise (SLR)-related risks and provide guidance and support for risk management and decision-making. We focus on interactive SLR viewers, which are map-based visualizations that illustrate flooding risks and allow users to select different locations and effects of SLR to view. SLR and associated aspects of climate change have been described as “wicked” problems (Lorenzoni, I. et al. 2007, Futures 39, 65), characterized by their unprecedented nature, intimate association with societal values, and for which the range of possible solutions is constrained by how the problem is defined (Rittel, H. & Webber, M. 1973, Policy Sci. 4, 155). Like other aspects of climate change, SLR involves both human and natural systems. Responding to SLR-associated risks may necessitate large resource use and lifestyle changes.

Human response to SLR can be approached as a problem of risk and uncertainty management. Individuals, organizations, and broader society must make decisions about how best to mitigate and adapt to the effects of SLR. It has been argued that climate change-related risk communicators should step beyond traditional information dissemination or persuasive roles and support decision-making directly by helping audiences visualize social and environmental risks and weigh uncertainties (Pidgeon, N. & Fischhoff, B. 2011, Nature Climate Change 1, 35).

In this presentation, we describe a content analysis of 20 interactive SLR viewers that we conducted to characterize and compare how they are being used to support risk visualization and decision-making. SLR viewers incorporate empirical data and quantitative models to produce scenario-based projections of SLR, estimate flooding risks, and communicate these risks visually on digital maps (Kostelnick, J. et al. 2013, Cartographica 48, 200). Visualizations can then be used to support coastal management decisions, such as where to situate ecological restoration or public infrastructure.

We begin this presentation by differentiating several audiences for digital SLR viewers and describing their decision support needs. Next, several case studies will be provided to illustrate and explore three themes that emerged from our content analysis: (1) how the type of computer model in the SLR viewer helps support the audience’s overall mental model of SLR; (2) how different visualizations depict potential flooding magnitude and uncertainty; and (3) how different visualizations incorporate social or ecological components into their communication of risk. Together, these themes advance a more comprehensive interdisciplinary understanding of SLR-related risk and uncertainty for decision-making.

We then discuss the effectiveness of the SLR viewer examples as risk-management and decision support tools for designated audiences. Recommendations will be provided for SLR viewer best practices in the key areas of supporting accurate mental models of SLR, communicating uncertainty, and communicating about social and ecological dynamics. The presentation will conclude by situating the risk management approach to SLR communication within the broader field of climate change communication research. This research is funded by NOAA as part of the Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise in the Northern Gulf of Mexico project.

Sonia Stephens, Denise DeLorme and Scott Hagen co-authored this paper.  Denise DeLorme and Scott Hagen will be presenting.