Drexel-Led Consortium Addresses Climate Resilience

As climate change brings more extreme weather to Philadelphia, Drexel University is helping to lead an effort to research solutions that can help the city’s most vulnerable communities. Drexel recently convened over 100 researchers, experts, community members and stakeholders to produce the Climate Resilience Research Agenda for the Philadelphia Region, outlining research priorities for the area.

The agenda aims to facilitate research that can both mitigate climate change effects and prepare Philadelphia for hotter temperatures, increased flooding and more extreme weather. It suggests integrating findings into infrastructure improvements, boosting green space, and ensuring research is participatory.

Franco Montalto, PhD, professor of civil architectural and environmental engineering, said the agenda is a first step in a vital public discussion that “must widen and deepen if we are to reduce our region’s vulnerability to climate change.”

“We need to ask the right questions to address this challenge,” he said. “This report lays out a path, but we need more people involved.”

Montalto helped organize the research agenda, which was unveiled at Drexel’s annual sustainability symposium. The report projects, among other things, that Philadelphia could see up to 72 days per year above 90°F by the 2050s, versus 27 days currently. Montalto said research must consider how climate impacts will hit vulnerable communities hardest.

The agenda recommends studying public health, buildings, transportation and more under climate change. It pushes community engagement so local voices help steer solutions. “We need to tap into the wisdom of these communities,” Montalto said.