Seminar Abstract

Alexander (Sascha) Petersen

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Adapting decision making to uncertainty and complexity when addressing sea level rise response in Puget Sound


It is difficult for decision makers to deal with scientific uncertainty when making public policy choices. These difficulties become particularly apparent as local jurisdictions begin to address climate change and its related impacts. Preparation and incorporation of climate predictions is hampered by the complex non-linear nature of the climate system and the variability of future climate scenarios. Additionally, the surrounding institutional, legal and policy system is primarily linear. This difference in structure increases the complexity of addressing climate change impacts. Sea level rise provides a relevant current forum with which to address these issues.

This study will focus on the local institutional, legal, and regulatory structure of Washington State , King County and the City of Seattle in order to identify the key impediments to incorporating sea level rise science and its associated uncertainty into decision making. Building on this assessment, the study will determine the institutional and regulatory context required to adequately address the issue. Finally, by using a risk-based management approach within the local context, this study will identify ways in which the impediments can be overcome, and lead to the creation of a more robust framework capable of adapting to and incorporating the uncertainty associated with sea level rise.


Speaker bio:

Alexander (Sascha) Petersen is originally from Alaska. He received an undergraduate degree in Physics from Pomona College and spent three years working for NASA before returning to graduate school. He is currently a research assistant with the Climate Impacts Group and Master's candidate in the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington.