University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Naomi Lazarus - PhD Defense

Monday, October 20, 2014
1:30pm – 2:30pm

Storrs Campus
AUST 420

Evaluating Community Resilience under Conditions of an Environmental Disaster: The Case of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill

The impact of hazard events on human settlements reflects the complex interaction of social and physical systems that challenge the process of defining and operationalizing risks associated with environmental disasters. The objective of this research is to develop a model that examines the inter-relationships between social capital and livelihoods and to thereby estimate their impacts on levels of hazard risk. Social capital is embedded in social networks and institutional frameworks that determine the quantity and quality of resources and services available to people. In addition to addressing the physical and social dimension of hazards, this research evaluates the linkages between social capital and livelihoods and underlying spatial processes that determine levels of vulnerability and risk from a hazardous event. The proposed hazard risk location model (HRLM) re-specifies hazard risk as a function of the hazard, exposure, and coping ability. The model is developed in two stages. First, an autoregressive model is applied to estimate the causal relationship between the dependent variable representing coping ability and variables representing social capital. Second, a threshold analysis examines the relationships between the latent variable (risk) and selected measurement variables representing the hazard, exposure, and coping ability. The model is applied to assess the social and economic impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill across coastal counties in the Gulf of Mexico. Results of the regression analysis reveal that the quantity of social capital and its contribution to coping ability are influenced by locational differences and the type of hazard event. Locational differences are observed in the services provided by social capital across the study area and how these vary over time. Maps developed from the threshold analysis highlight spatial and temporal variation in hazard risk at the county level, and these changes are reflected in the proximity of individual counties to the spill site, population density, and the unemployment rate. In keeping with recent trends in research relating to disaster risk, the model contributes to the range of place-based assessments designed to address the impacts of environmental disasters from the perspective of community resilience.

Contact:

Stephanie Beron

Geography Department (primary), UConn Master Calendar

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