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Title: Interdependence of social-ecological-technological systems in Phoenix, Arizona: consequences of an extreme precipitation event

Complex adaptive systems – such as critical infrastructures (CI) – are defined by their vast, multi-level interactions and emergent behaviors, but this elaborate web of interactions often conceals relationships. For instance, CI is often reduced to technological components, ignoring that social and ecological components are also embedded, leading to unintentional consequences from disturbance events. Analysis of CI as social-ecological-technological systems (SETS) can support integrated decision-making and increase infrastructure’s capacity for resilience to climate change. We assess the impacts of an extreme precipitation event in Phoenix, AZ to identify pathways of disruption and feedback loops across SETS as presented in an illustrative causal loop diagram, developed through semi-structured interviews with researchers and practitioners and cross-validated with a literature review. The causal loop diagram consists of 19 components resulting in hundreds of feedback loops and cascading failures, with surface runoff, infiltration, and water bodies as well as power, water, and transportation infrastructures appearing to have critical roles in maintaining system services. We found that pathways of disruptions highlight potential weak spots within the system that could benefit from climate adaptation, and feedback loops may serve as potential tools to divert failure at the root cause. This method of convergence research shows potential as a useful tool to illustrate a broader perspective of urban systems and address the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the Anthropocene.

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Award ID(s):
1934933 1444755
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Infrastructure Preservation and Resilience
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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