Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Jennifer Henderson

Jen Henderson will work with CIRES Fellow Lisa Dilling, Director of the Western Water Assessment, and Rebecca Morss and Olga Wilhemi, of NCAR, to understand the complex nature of water-related vulnerabilities that arise in communities preparing for climate change and climate variability. She will study these dynamics of vulnerability through a qualitative, empirical analysis of current and future water use and management practices for two mid-size cities in Colorado. Henderson hypothesizes that this work will reveal how adaptations made to water use strategies in one place within the system may have unintended, and perhaps unseen, consequences at another point in the system. Research questions at the heart of this project ask the following: What does vulnerability mean for different stakeholder and lay publics? How is the term vulnerability itself taken for granted in ways that exclude specific demographics or problems? How do these vulnerabilities shift and migrate, or spill over to different sectors, as communities adopt mitigation strategies and build adaptive capacities for climate variability? By looking at different stressors these communities experience, she hopes to make visible groups that have become more vulnerable to water issues and reveal common problems that transcend the situatedness of a particular issue and relevant dissimilarities that result in vulnerabilities of different types and scope. Henderson is looking forward to working with scholars in Boulder and communities across the Front Range to advance an understanding of local climate related impacts and offer decision makers a valuable analysis of emerging vulnerabilities.