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Megacities are hotspots of climate change vulnerability and face significant social and institutional challenges to adaptation.  MEGADAPT addresses the challenge of reducing vulnerability under climate change to increased flooding, chronic water scarcity, and associated health outcomes in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.  Residents, businesses and public agencies in megacities respond to the impact of flooding, scarcity and health outcomes in disparate and often uncoordinated ways across the metropolitan area.  Through their modifications of infrastructure and land use, their responses impact the hydro-climatic system, ultimately exacerbating or ameliorating hazardous conditions. 

To capture these complex interactions and feedbacks, this international and transdisciplinary project produces an integrated dynamic model – MEGADAPT – for use in Mexico City, but with potential applicability to climate risk adaptation in complex urban environments across the globe.  The project explores how different scenarios of changes in climatic extremes combine with dispersed actions of specific populations in response to vulnerability to produce cross-scalar feedbacks that alter the distribution of vulnerability in the megacity. As a decision-support tool, MEGADAPT will allow decision-makers to explore how altering risk management priorities or the geographic focus of interventions under changing climatic conditions affect social equity and overall risk outcomes. 

MEGADAPT involves over 20 scientists from diverse disciplines including geography, engineering, urban planning, sustainability science, architecture, water resource management, and climatology.  The project is a collaboration of ASU’s faculty with the National Laboratory for Sustainability Sciences (LANCIS) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). We are working in partnership with residents of vulnerable neighborhoods, the city’s water, urbanization and environmental management authorities, and federal agencies responsible for water and risk. The project supports the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural training of graduate students affiliated with UNAM and Arizona State University, and through direct stakeholder involvement, aims to improve capacities for risk management in Mexico City.  MEGADAPT aims to serve as a model for climate-change adaptation developing countries.


National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural-Human Systems


August 2014 — July 2018