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Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management

A collection of scholarly work published by and supporting the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management (CESEM) at Arizona State University.

CESEM focuses on "earth systems engineering and management," providing a basis for understanding, designing, and managing the complex integrated built/human/natural systems that increasingly characterize our planet.

Works in this collection are particularly important in linking engineering, technology, and sustainability, and are increasingly intertwined with the work of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS).

Date Range
2010 2018

Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) is a framework for both discussing and addressing the adaptive management of complex socio-ecological systems (SES). Governance of emerging technologies is an SES challenge that demonstrates all the classic symptoms of a wicked problem. This paper surveys governance literature in light of the ESEM principles and explores the potential for using the principles of ESEM as a mechanism for governance, addressing particularly ESEM’s overlap with the recently promulgated anticipatory governance as defined by its three pillars of foresight, engagement, and integration. This paper demonstrates that the intersection of these concepts is significant and concludes …

Roberts, Tom

Results are available at The environmental life cycle assessment of electric rail public transit modes requires an assessment of electricity generation mixes. The provision of electricity to a region does not usually adhere to geopolitical boundaries. Electricity is governed based on lowest cost marginal dispatch and reliability principles. Additionally, there are times when a public transit agency may purchase wholesale electricity from a particular service provider. Such is the case with electric rail modes in the San Francisco Bay Area. An environmental life cycle assessment of San Francisco Bay Area public transit systems was developed by Chester and Horvath …

Chester, Mikhail

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions. To better inform decision-makers, this project evaluates the decision to construct and operate public transportation systems and the expected energy and environmental benefits over continued automobile use. The public transit systems are selected based on screening criteria. Initial screening included advanced implementation (5 to 10 years so change in ridership could be observed), similar geographic regions to ensure consistency of analysis parameters, common transit agencies or authorities to ensure a …

Chester, Mikhail, Eisenstein, William, Pincetl, Stephanie, et al.

Many relationships exist between humans and their animal companions. Regardless of the relationship, the costs of pet ownership are more than just veterinary bills and the purchase of pet food. The purpose of this study is to examine the environmental impacts associated with ownership of canus lupus familiaris, more commonly known as the domesticated dog. Since dogs are carnivorous by nature, there has already been significant interest in the ecological ‘pawprint’ of pet food, or the pressure that dog food production exerts on the environment. This study utilizes Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to determine the environmental impacts of industrial pet …

Rushforth, Richard, Moreau, Michael
Created Date

With potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions relative to other modes, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may significantly increase human and environmental impacts from door-to-door transit trips. Yet little rigorous work has been developed that quantitatively assesses the effects of transit access or egress by automobiles. This research evaluates the life-cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is developed. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase multimodal transit trip …

Christopher, Hoehne, Chester, Mikhail

Recent developments in computational software and public accessibility of gridded climatological data have enabled researchers to study Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects more systematically and at a higher spatial resolution. Previous studies have analyzed UHI and identified significant contributors at the regional level for cities, within the topology of urban canyons, and for different construction materials. In UHIs, air is heated by the convective energy transfer from land surface materials and anthropogenic activities. Convection is dependent upon the temperature of the surface, temperature of the air, wind speed, and relative humidity. At the same time, air temperature is also influenced …

Burillo, Daniel, Chester, Mikhail, Kaloush, Kamil, et al.

Recent climatic trends show more flooding and extreme heat events and in the future transportation infrastructure may be susceptible to more frequent and intense environmental perturbations. Our transportation systems have largely been designed to withstand historical weather events, for example, floods that occur at an intensity that is experience once every 100 years, and there is evidence that these events are expected become more frequent. There are increasing efforts to better understand the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure. An abundance of new research is emerging to study various aspects of climate change on transportation systems. Much of this …

Chester, Mikhail, Fraser, Andrew, Bartos, Matthew

Climatic changes have the potential to impact electricity generation in the U.S. Southwest and methods are needed for estimating how cities will be impacted. This study builds an electricity vulnerability risk index for two Southwest cities (Phoenix and Los Angeles) based on climate-related changes in electricity generation capacity. Planning reserve margins (PRM) are used to estimate the potential for blackouts and brownouts under future climate scenarios. Reductions in PRM occur in both cities in 2016 with the most significant reductions occurring in regions relying more heavily on hydropower.

Sivaraman, Deepak, Bartos, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail, et al.

Vehicle trips presently account for approximately 50% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions(San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 2008). City and county officials have developed aggressive strategies for the future of passenger transportation in the metropolitan area, and are determined to move away from a “business as usual” future. This project starts with current-state source data from a life-cycle comparison of urban transportation systems (Chester, Horvath, & Madanat, 2010), and carries the inventoried emissions and energy usage through by way of published future scenarios for San Francisco. From the extrapolated calculations of future emissions/energy, the implied mix of transportation modes can …

Kimball, Mindy
Created Date

Public transit necessitates environmental exposure and there is increasing recognition that in a future with hotter temperatures new strategies are needed to protect passengers. Arizona State University’s Spring 2017 Urban Infrastructure Anatomy course assessed travel behavior, public transit stop design, and heat exposure to develop recommendations for mitigating heat exposure. Travel surveys, analysis of infrastructure characteristics, and thermal imaging were used to assess exposure. A suite of mitigation strategies was developed from a literature review, conversations with experts, and review of other transit systems. Focusing on neighborhoods in Tempe, Arizona, strategies are developed for protecting future riders from negative health …