Current Projects


Understanding risk and response behaviors within the context of landscape evolution, interconnected infrastructures, and the resilience of complex systems poses a major challenge in the emerging field of MultiSector Dynamics (MSD). PCHES-ADAPT utilizes and extends previously-developed MSD frameworks to better understand human and institutional responses to hazards in conjunction with the quantification and characterization of hazards. A particular focus is to identify, characterize, and compare risk management strategies and adaptive measures and their implications for systems resilience.

active: October 2021 – present

role: Co-Director, Co-PI, and Lead for Hazard Characterization Focus Area

support: MultiSector Dynamics (MSD) program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)


MARISA helps Mid-Atlantic communities become more resilient to a changing climate through improved data, place-based decision support, and public engagement. Established in September 2016, MARISA supports integrated, flexible processes for building adaptive capacity to climate variability and change in diverse settings in the Mid- Atlantic region, with an initial focus on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

active: August 2016 – present

role: Senior Personnel and Co-PI on subaward from RAND

support: Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program, Climate Programs Office (CPO), National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

see also: MARISA Climate Data Portal

Integrated Coastal Modeling (ICoM)

Coastal regions across the country and around the world are exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, many of which are increasing in frequency and intensity. ICoM tackles key uncertainties associated with the evolution of coastal systems by developing and applying computational models that can simulate the complex multiscale processes and interactions, with an initial focus on the Mid-Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay watersheds.

active: August 2016 – present

role: Senior Personnel and Co-PI on subaward from PNNL

support: Earth and Environmental System Modeling (EESM) program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)

Penn State Initiative for Resilient Communities (PSIRC)

Building partnerships with local stakeholders and state agencies, PSIRC brings together a diverse transdisciplinary team to understand and address the complex challenges associated with flood resilience in Pennsylvania’s riverine communities.

active: August 2016 – present

role: Leadership Team and Co-PI

support: Office of the Provost, Penn State University

Chesapeake Bay Coastal Climate Extension Program

Working in partnership with the Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, the Coastal Climate Extension Program will substantially enhance MARISA’s capacity to engage with stakeholders in the Chesapeake Bay region and provide timely access to relevant data products, tools, and place-based decision support resources.

active: September 2016 – present

role: Director and Principal Investigator

support: Climate Programs Office (CPO), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Visualizing Forest Futures (ViFF)

Sustainable forest management under climate change requires a new approach that links human values, projections, and visualization to decision-making under uncertainty. ViFF links traditional knowledge (TK) with cutting-edge modeling and visualization techniques — including immersive virtual reality (iVR) experiences — to better understand forest landscapes and the human values associated with them, exploring robust strategies for forest management under deep uncertainty.

active: September 2016 – present

role: Senior Personnel, lead for development of localized climate projections

support: Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program, National Science Foundation (NSF)


Energy, water, and land systems interact in complex and, as yet, poorly-understood ways — all with enormous implications for international trade, food security, reliability of electric power supply, demographic patterns, and the resilience of communities and critical infrastructure to natural hazards. PCHES seeks to create a new, state-of-the-art, integrated modeling framework to drive advances in the quantitative understanding of these coupled systems.

active: August 2016 – present

role: Co-lead for Program Element II (Development of advanced climate data products, emulators, analysis methods, and coupling and translational tools)

support: MultiSector Dynamics (MSD) program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)

Past Projects

Pennsylvania 2020 Climate Change Impacts Assessment

Commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this was one in an ongoing series reports on climate impacts in Pennsylvania. Somewhat differently from prior assessments, this report focused on impacts in a limited number of key sectors rather than providing a general climate impacts overview.

active: March 2019 – September 2019

role: Senior Personnel

support: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM)

Centered at Penn State, SCRiM links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and 5 research institutions across 6 nations to answer the question, “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?”

active: October 2012 – September 2019

role: Managing Director, lead for Project 4 (Developing decision-relevant climate information that accounts for bias and uncertainty in climate projections)

support: Sustainability Research Networks (SRN) Program, National Science Foundation (NSF)

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Dairy Production Systems of the Great Lakes Region (DairyCAP)

The DairyCAP project sought to: identify opportunities to increase the sustainability of dairy production systems common in the Great Lakes region; further develop decision-support tools for use by producers at the farm scale; and to educate farmers, the agricultural industry, policy makers, teachers, students, and the general public on sustainable management practices for dairy.

active: February 2013 – February 2018

role: Senior Personnel

support: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)


PCHES-IAMDDI was dedicated to improving the science of integrated assessment by performing cutting-edge research in critical areas of IAM development. The program then further integrated that research with model inter-comparison and IAM scenario ensemble construction activities.

active: August 2013 – July 2018

role: Senior Personnel

support: Integrated Assessment Modeling Program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)

This project sought to provide a deeper understanding of how best to use information from next-generation Earth System Models (EaSMs) to improve climate-related decisions by tightly linking three research activities: generating climate information at alternative levels of resolution and complexity, using this information in real-world decision support applications, and measuring the value of this information to decision makers through field evaluations and psychological laboratory experiments.

active: March 2011 – December 2015

role: Co-Investigator

support: Divsion of Social and Economic Sciences (SES), National Science Foundation (NSF)

State-Level Climate Change Scenarios for the United States

Projections of climate change impacts hinge critically on the details of choices regarding emissions scenarios and models be frequently ignore natural variability and key structural and parametric uncertainties. In this project, we develop and analyze a set of state-level projections of climate stressors that account for a subset of these uncertainties.

active: October 2011 – July 2012

role: Co-PI on subaward from RTI

support: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Rob Nicholas :: Projects - Robert E. Nicholas