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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


Most would agree that telecommunications systems are socially constructed. Since “communication” tends to involve people, it seems obvious that people should impact the creation of such systems. But it is far less obvious that the specifications for such systems should be noted for their social construction. As marvelous and technical as the system is, we must not forget the important technological artifact known as the specification that came before it. This paper tells the story of the social construction of the IRIDIUM system specification as viewed through the eyes of a popular socio-technical systems (STS) analysis tool. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

While the definition of sustainability remains open for all to contribute to and participate in, there do seem to be some notions it has come to embody that should not be neglected as the definition coalesces. Among these are the ethical and social dimensions of sustainability. Whether or not it is appropriate, required, or even desirable, concepts like social equity, human rights, ethical sharing of commons, etc. have increasingly come under the umbrella of the sustainability discourse. Even if “sustainability” as a bare word doesn’t imply those things, the concept of sustainable development certainly has taken on those dimensions. That …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

As the number of heat waves are expected to increase significantly into the future in the U.S. Southwest, new insight is needed into how urban infrastructure can be repositioned to protect people. In the Phoenix metro area infrastructure have largely been deployed over the past half century, during a time when climate change was not a concern. Now, as the county struggles to protect people from heat, there is a need to reassess how existing and new infrastructure can be positioned to reduce health impacts while improving sustainability. Using a neighborhood in Mesa, Arizona as a case study, we assess …

Contributors
Al Hashemi, Mawdah, Beckley, Michelle, Begiebing, Lyle, 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 …

Contributors
Chester, Mikhail, Fraser, Andrew, Bartos, Matthew

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication: Household Accessibility to Heat Refuges: Residential Air Conditioning, Public Cooled Space, and Walkability, Preprint Online 2016 (Final Publication Expected 2017), Andrew Fraser, Mikhail Chester, David Eisenman, David Hondula, Stephanie Pincetl, Paul English, and Emily Bondank, Environment and Planning B, Volume and Issue Forthcoming, doi: 10.1177/0265813516657342. The publication is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265813516657342 Access to air conditioned space is critical for protecting urban populations from the adverse effects of heat exposure. Yet there remains fairly limited knowledge of penetration of private (home air conditioning) and distribution of public (cooling centers and commercial space) …

Contributors
Fraser, Andrew, Chester, Mikhail, Eisenman, David, et al.

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication: Building Thermal Performance, Climate Change, and Urban Heat Vulnerability, Matthew Nahlik, Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, David Eisenman, Deepak Sivaraman, and Paul English, 2017, ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(3), doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000349 The publication is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000349 The leading source of weather-related deaths in the United States is heat, and future projections show that the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat events will increase in the Southwest. Presently, there is a dearth of knowledge about how infrastructure may perform during heat waves or could contribute to social vulnerability. To understand how buildings …

Contributors
Nahlik, Matthew, Chester, Mikhail, Pincetl, Stephanie, et al.

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 …

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

As average temperatures and occurrences of extreme heat events increase in the Southwest, the water infrastructure that was designed to operate under historical temperature ranges may become increasingly vulnerable to component and operational failures. For each major component along the life cycle of water in an urban water infrastructural system, potential failure events and their semi-quantitative probabilities of occurrence were estimated from interview responses of water industry professionals. These failure events were used to populate event trees to determine the potential pathways to cascading failures in the system. The probabilities of the cascading failure scenarios under future conditions were then …

Contributors
Bondank, Emily, Chester, Mikhail

In the economic crisis Detroit has been enduring for many decades, a unique crisis has emerged with the provision of water that is normally not seen in the developed world. The oversized, deteriorating, and underfunded water provision system has been steadily accruing debt for the water utility since population began to decrease in the 1950’s. As a result, the utility has instated rate increases and aggressive water shut off policies for non-paying residents. Residents have consequentially claimed that their human right to water has been breeched. In this report, I analyze possible solutions to the water crisis from both the …

Contributors
Bondank, Emily

The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus is the interaction and the interdependence of the food, energy and water systems. These interdependencies exist in all parts of the world yet little knowledge exists of the complexity within these interdependent systems. Using Arizona as a case study, systems-oriented frameworks are examined for their value in revealing the complexity of FEW nexus. Industrial Symbiosis, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Urban Metabolism are examined. The Industrial Symbiosis presents the system as purely a technical one and looks only at technology and hard infrastructure. The LCA framework takes a reductionist approach and tries to make the system …

Contributors
Natarajan, Mukunth, Chester, Mikhail