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Number 618 • November 14, 2013 | Past Issues













Up to the Task: Federal Task Force Will Tackle Climate Change Preparedness

In the past year, the United States has bowed under the weight of extreme coastal storms, wildfires, floods, drought, and other climate-exacerbated hazards. Now a new task force has been established to help ensure those hits will be easier to take in the future.

An executive order issued this month aims to prepare the nation for the impacts of climate change, including finding ways to incentivize climate-resilient investments, manage land and water resources, create tools for climate change resilience, and plan for climate-related risk. Along with those efforts, a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience will add a federal component to the work states and municipalities have been tackling without assistance.

“We're going to need to get prepared,” President Barack Obama said in June. “States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready. We’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers.” 

The 26-member task force—which includes governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders—will advise the administration on the steps needed to implement the goals stated in the order (Climate Science Watch has a goal-by-goal analysis of the order here) and overcome the barriers they currently face.

“We really do need to hear directly from the communities and from those who are sort of on the front lines of dealing with the impacts of climate change,” said Nancy Sutley, head of a White House environmental council, told the New York Times.

Political pundits have noted the order is something of an end run around Congress, which is often deadlocked on climate issues.

“What’s really interesting about this task force is that it is really codifying, it’s laying down the policy for the Obama administration for the sort of stuff that he can’t do though Congress because Congress will not cooperate with his policy goals on this front,” Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News said in an interview with PBS Newshour.  

Still, by making that play, the administration has given states and municipalities a resource for getting things done on a local level, Talev said.

“For the most part this is an opportunity for local governments to assess how climate change may affect their infrastructure and to make that added case for funding and federal assistance,” she said.

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The Quick and Soon-to-be Read: Colorado Flood Research Is Coming

Those looking to learn from the recent flooding in Colorado won’t have to wait too long now that researchers from the Natural Hazards Center’s Quick Response Grant Program have entered the field. Reports on the preliminary data collected will be available beginning in January.

Immediately after the flooding in September, the Natural Hazards Center issued a special call for research related to the widespread disaster. We received many interesting proposals and were able to fund the following:

Problems Related to the Oil and Gas Industry During a Flooding Disaster: The Nature and Extent of Citizen Complaints and Satisfaction with Government Response

-- Tara Opsal and Tara Shelley, Colorado State University

Assessing Ecological and Natural Resources Impacts of Colorado Floods to Strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction and Build Cross-Cutting Resilience

-- Deborah Brosnan, University of California, Davis

Policy Learning and Political Context: Analyzing Responses to Colorado’s Extreme Flood Events of 2013

-- Deserai Crow, University of Colorado, and Elizabeth Albright, Duke University

Women in the Face of Disaster: Incorporating Gender Perspectives into Disaster Policy NHC Call for Quick Response Proposals on Colorado Floods

--Bridgette Cram, Florida International University

Sustainable Food Systems: Impacts of Disasters and Relief Efforts on Resilience

-- Rachael Budowle, University of Wyoming

Understanding Household Recovery Following the Colorado Flash Floods (2013)

-- Andrew Rumbach, Deborah Thomas, Carrie Makarewicz, Jeremy Nemeth, University of Colorado, Denver

An Empirical Investigation of the Material Convergence Problem

--Andrew Arnette, University of Wyoming

The Natural Hazards Center accepts Quick Response Grant proposals at any time. For more information on the program and how to submit a proposal, please read the program guidelines. And if you’re not already signed up to receive Quick Response Grant Program information, you can sign up or add it to your preferences online.

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The Latest Natural Hazards Observer Is Online (and in Print!)

The latest edition of the Natural Hazards Observer is now available online. Featured articles from the November 2013 Observer include:

--Security and Resilience in Israel
--Parsing the 2013 Colorado Floods
--A Busy Time For Climate Change—Again
--Social Media and Disasters: A Work in Progress
--Ordinary People—The "First" First Responders

And don’t forget, for those of you who would rather get the print edition, we’re now able to offer readers an Observer subscription for only $15 per year. Those interested in subscribing can sign up on our subscription page using a credit card, or be invoiced later.

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Talking Turkey and Taking Breaks: DR On Hiatus

The holidays are approaching and ‘tis again the season for DR to take a hiatus or two. We’ll be starting off with the November 28 issue, which should give you a little less stuffing in your inbox as you prepare for Thanksgiving. Winter celebrations and school breaks will alter the schedule as well, but we’ll give you more information about those dates as the season draws nigh.

In the meantime, you can always get the latest disaster news if you follow us on Twitter, and DR 619 will return December 12 with all the same great news, resources, conferences, and jobs.

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Call Outs: Calls for Papers, Abstracts, Proposals, and More

Call for Nominations
Board of Directors
International Association of Wildland Fire
Deadline: November 25, 2013
The International Association of Wildland Fire is accepting nominations for its board of directors. Terms are for three years and require a minimum time commitment of several hours per month. Candidates should be a member of IAWF and have expertise in wildland-fire suppression, prevention, research, equipment, or other related subjects.


Call for Comments

Guidelines for SmartGrid Cybersecurity
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Deadline: December 24, 2013
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is accepting public comments on its interagency report on guidelines for smart grid cyber security. Comments should focus on the changes and revisions made to the original version that address changes in technologies and implementations since the first release in 2010. For comment template and submission information, visit the federal register Web site.


Call for Papers
GEO Business 2014
Diversified Business Communications
Deadline: January 29, 2014

The GEO Business Technical Committee is accepting papers for presentation its conference to be held May 28-29 in London. Papers can address topics such as data processing, survey integrations, big data in the geospatial field, global navigation satellites, developments in GIS, education for future geospatial experts, and international issues. For more information and to submit an abstract, see the call for papers on the conference website.

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Some New Web Resources

State Hazard Mitigation Plans and Climate Change: Rating the States
When it comes to incorporating climate change into disaster mitigation planning, most states are woefully inadequate, according to a recent report from Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law. The report categorized mitigation plans from all 50 states based on how much, or little, attention the plans paid to the effects of climate change. Nearly 30 states gave climate matters short shrift. For more on the report and to see a map of how states rank, see this article in Mother Jones.


Typhoon Haiyan Resources

As humanitarian aid workers and decision makers begin grappling with issues related to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, Evidence Aid has compiled a list of resources that can be of use. Topics include infectious diseases and flooding, disaster evacuation and medication, flooding and mental health, secondary stressors in disasters, and the health impacts of windstorms.


Tracking and Reunification of Children in a Disaster

Speaking of Typhoon Haiyan, this online lesson will give healthcare workers a background in handling children who’ve become separated from their parents in a disaster. From creating general awareness of responder responsibility, to identifying lost children, to knowing what resources are available to help find parents, this tool will help guide emergency workers in the field. The lesson, created by the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, is also eligible for a variety of continuing education credits.


Regional Catastrophic Planning Team

The Regional Catastrophic Planning Team Web site is a resource for stakeholders from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to contribute to crowdsource their knowledge to create better guidance for creating disaster plans. Conceptual plans on topics such as critical infrastructure protection, debris management, disaster housing, mass fatalities, volunteer preparedness, and private sector integration are presented and improved upon by members. Don’t live in the area? Check it out anyway—there’s a chance you might be able to tweak the offerings to fit your own locale.

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Conferences, Training, and Events

[Below are some recent announcements received by the Natural Hazards Center. For a comprehensive list of upcoming hazards-related meetings, visit our Web site at]

December 9, 2013
Useful Science Initiative Inaugural Workshop
Useful Science Initiative
Oxford, United Kingdom
Cost and Registration: Free, open until filled
This workshop is the first of a five-year strategy and will set the building blocks for future USI workshops and conferences. The goal of the workshop is to help academics in geography and earth sciences publish their research in a way that non-experts and stakeholders can understand and apply. Topics include the role of stakeholders in research, creating a brand, writing for USI, developing useful research projects, and accessibility to non-scientists.


December 11-12, 2013
Defense, National Security & Climate Change Symposium
Association of Climate Change Officers
Washington, D.C.
Cost and Registration: $575, open until filled
This symposium will analyze current efforts of U.S. defense, intelligence and international security preparedness and resilience to climate change. Topics include greenhouse gas-reduction activities, workforce education, consequences of sea level rise, clean energy development, national security risks, and preparedness-enhancing technology.


January 16-17, 2014
Northridge Earthquake Symposium
Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center
Los Angeles, California
Cost and Registration: $50, open until filled
This symposium examines impacts and progress resulting from the Northridge Earthquake and the use of new technology and building standards to create resilient communities. Topics include transportation systems in disaster, resilient building materials, ground motion hazards, earthquake effects on utility infrastructure, and financial, business, and insurance implications.


February 8-13, 2014
67th Annual International Meeting
Society for Range Management
Orlando, Florida
Cost: $365, open until filled
This event will focus on drought, water crises, and topics ranging from wildlife to wildfire ecology. Topics include the history of grasslands and drought, managing drought on rangelands, water management technology, Native American rangeland management, grazing ecology, climate variability, and ways that droughts shape society. 


February 17-19, 2014
International LiDAR Mapping Forum
SPAR Point Group
Denver, Colorado
Cost and Registration: $550 before December 13, 2013
This conference will discuss how advancements in mapping in transport, coastal zones, GIS applications and urban modeling have improved mapping for costumers in a wide range of disciplines and industries. Topics include ocean mapping, cultural heritage documentation, remote sensing data collection, use of laser scanners, extracting information from data to improve disaster response, and the use of maps post disaster to aid in recovery.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Disaster Risk Management Specialist
World Bank
Washington, D.C.
Salary: Not Posted
Closing Date: November 20, 2013

This position implements risk identification programs and provides technical advice for the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Duties include developing publications on integrating risk information into national development strategies, providing risk identification tools and support, communication risk information to governments and donors, and mentoring staff and consultants. A master’s degree in a field related to natural hazards risk analysis, five years of experience, and substantial knowledge of disaster risk management are required.


Floodplain Program Planner

Virginia Floodplain Management Division
Richmond, Virginia
Salary: $41,778 to $50,000
Deadline: November 20, 2013
This position oversees reviews of local floodplain plans and ordinances. Duties include conducting workshops, coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and assisting with declared flood disasters in Virginia. Knowledge of Virginia floodplain regulations, GIS proficiency, and experience applying floodplain planning principles are required. A bachelor’s in planning or engineering and floodplain manager certification are preferred. Reference job posting number 0073768 when visiting job posting. 


Emergency Services Planner

County of Monterey Office of Emergency Services
Monterey, California
Salary: $59,030 to $80,641
Deadline: December 3, 2013
This position coordinates emergency services operations, evaluates policies and plans, and researches new emergency operation center technology. Duties include preparing contingency plans, coordinates preparedness and response programs, and acting as emergency services coordinator during disasters. A bachelor’s degree in public administration or disaster planning and emergency operations knowledge are required.


Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer, GS-11/12

Department of Agriculture
Multiple locations
Salary: $57,408 to $68,809
Deadline: April 30, 2014
This position will assist in coordinating fire management activities, develop long-term management programs, oversee a large area of forest, and perform wildfire- suppression support. Duties include dispatching wildfire suppression services, clearing vegetation to prevent wildfire spread, coordinating plans and activities for fire and aviation management, and directing detection and prevention programs.  Wildland firefighting experience and one year of experience at the level of GS-10 or above are required.


Emergency Management Training and Exercise Coordinator

University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, California
Salary: Not posted
Deadline: Open until filled
This position facilitates and oversees emergency management exercises and disaster training of personnel and increases campus preparedness. Duties include conducting campus wide disaster drills, creating and maintaining a training and exercise plan, keeping the campus compliant with state and federal preparedness guidelines, and performing outreach to increase preparedness awareness.  A bachelor’s degree in a related field, Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program knowledge, and familiarity with higher education institutions are required.

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