Carnegie Mellon University

Additionally to the center's research foci, CERCA faculty members have developed a suite of integrated courses to prepare the next generation of engineering students for leadership in climate change adaptation.

Many other climate, energy, and infrastructure courses are available at Carnegie Mellon, see the schedule of classes.

This course will survey both scientific and policy issues associated with climate change. We will begin by surveying important factors governing the Earth's climate including solar and terrestrial radiative equilibrium and ocean heat storage and transport. Next, we will discuss the several perturbations or "forcings" that industrial society has imposed on Earth's climate: changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, ozone, and aerosols.

The course will examine how complex climate feedbacks lead to significant uncertainty regarding the response of the Earth to these forcings. Decision-making strategies that policy makers can use to deal with these uncertainties will be discussed. We will outline major impacts of climate change on society as well as natural systems and strategies for mitigating climate change.

What is climate change and how will it affect societies in different parts of the world? How can we prepare for a changing climate?

This course explores climate change at the intersection of regional climate impacts and adaptation efforts. The course will equip students with a good working knowledge of the climate system, the weather we observe, and regional climate change. We will critically discuss the scientific process of climate change detection and attribution and learn about methods to project regional climate change impacts. We will study changes in droughts and floods, heat waves, and hurricanes, and explore how climate change affects cities worldwide and the Arctic. We will use an interactive methodology and work in small teams to evaluate and discuss climate adaptation efforts around the world.

Although an international problem, climate change will affect each country's critical infrastructure in diverse ways. This course will focus on understanding how international communities are adapting and innovating to reduce critical infrastructure risk.

Students will be able to list and describe natural hazards affected by climate change, focusing on their impacts on natural and built critical infrastructure systems in physically, socially, and economically diverse countries. Students will then use cost-benefit analysis, the triple bottom line approach (physical, social, economic), and robust decision making to analyze, compare, and contrast different countries' responses. The class will culminate in a final paper and presentation on one country's approach to decision-making under uncertainty for adaptation.

While the specific timing and magnitude of climate change impacts are uncertain, long-lived civil engineering infrastructure will need to be resilient to these potential impacts. Engineers designing for climate change adaptation require the tools to maximize resiliency and minimize cost for existing and proposed energy, transportation, water, urban and other types of infrastructure.

Students successfully completing this course will understand how climate change affects civil infrastructure and how to quantitatively incorporate resilient designs and co-benefits under uncertainty. Students will use open data to examine current adaptation engineering challenges, quantify solutions, and communicate their technical recommendations through policy briefs.

This course will introduce graduate students to concepts of probabilistic risk assessment and decision making under uncertainty, with applications to infrastructure systems. Topics covered will include: a review of probability and utility theories, with emphasis on the Bayesian framework; an introduction on graphical models to describe the interdependence of system components; analytical methods to risk assessment (First Order Reliability Method) and numerical simulations (crude and advance Monte Carlo techniques).

The student will learn how to quantify the risk, depending on the management policy selected, and how to update the assessment by analyzing observations on the system performance.