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A.R. Siders - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

A.R. Siders

Core Faculty, Disaster Research Center; Assistant Professor, Biden School of Public Policy and Administration | University of Delaware


Prof. Siders' research focuses on climate change adaptation policies with an emphasis on managed retreat.







Everything you wanted to know about Managed Retreat (but were afraid to ask) with Dr. AR Siders Plan for the Planet: A.R. Siders Managed retreat: A critical tool to combat climate change Managed retreat—a powerful tool for future climate change adaptation




A.R. Siders is a director of the Gerard J. Mangone Climate Change Science and Policy Hub. She is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware in the Disaster Research Center, the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration, and the department of Geography and Spatial Sciences in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. She holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD from the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. Siders previously served as an environmental fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, a legal fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, and a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Navy.

Dr. Siders' research focuses on climate change adaptation decision-making and evaluation: how and why communities decide when, where, and how to adapt to the effects of climate change and how these decisions affect risk reduction and equity outcomes. She has expertise on climate adaptation policy at local, state, and federal levels in the United States and international policy. Her current projects focus on adaptive capacity, managed retreat, and adaptation fairness. She co-edited a book and special issue on environmental justice and climate relocation, and she recently served as a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report and to the Fifth US National Climate Assessment (NCA5) and as a synthesis lead for the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative.

Industry Expertise (5)


Government Administration

Environmental Services

Computer Gaming

Public Policy

Areas of Expertise (9)

Flood Exposure & Resilience

Climate & Disaster Study

Managed Retreat

Environmental Justice

Climate-related Hazards

Climate Change Adaptation Policies

Climate Change Adaptation

Climate Change

Environmental Video Games

Media Appearances (6)

‘We are not prepared’: Disasters spread as climate change strikes

Politico  online


In addition to coordinating disaster response, FEMA also runs the U.S. federal flood insurance program. And it simply is not ready to juggle the myriad perils that climate change is spitting out, said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware who focuses on disasters. “I think as a whole in the United States we are not prepared to deal with the effects of a changing climate,” she said. “We are doing too much in the reaction mode rather than the preparation mode.”

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One City’s Escape Plan From Rising Seas

Wired  online


We urgently need to shift to strategic efforts that include sociocultural as well as physical factors and involve the whole country. As Professor A. R. Siders of the University of Delaware, a leading academic in the emerging field of strategic relocation, says, “A substantial amount of innovation and work—in both research and practice—will need to be done to make strategic [relocation] an efficient and equitable adaptation option at scale.”

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Meet the multimillion-dollar building deliberately built to drown

The Washington Post  online


A.R. Siders, an assistant professor in the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration and a member of the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center who studies adaptation to climate change, said policies like these could make it easier for people to move away from threatened areas.

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Climate change makes living at the coast riskier. But more people keep coming.

USA Today  online


People don't like to talk about towns losing population, but that's unrealistic, said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor in the disaster research center at the University of Delaware. "We're not very good in the United States about dealing with shrinking towns, whether they're shrinking because of sea level rise and climate change issues, or they're shrinking because an economy has collapsed."

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"Managed Retreat": A Solution to Communities Impacted by Climate Change

The Takeaway  online


We talk with A.R. Siders, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware and climate change adaptation expert on what managed retreat is and how it has been implemented across the US.

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We Need to Manage a Careful Retreat From Climate Change, Scientists Urge

Science Alert  online


"Climate change is affecting people all over the world, and everyone is trying to figure out what to do about it," says disaster researcher A.R. Siders from the University of Delaware.

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Articles (5)

Promoting Spatial Coordination in Flood Buyouts in the United States: Four Strategies and Four Challenges from the Economics of Land Preservation Literature

Natural Hazards Review

2023 Managed retreat in the form of voluntary flood-buyout programs provides homeowners with an alternative to repairing and rebuilding residences that have sustained severe flood damage. Buyout programs are most economically efficient when groups of neighboring properties are acquired because they can then create unfragmented flood control areas and reduce the cost of providing local services. However, buyout programs in the United States often fail to acquire such efficient, unfragmented spaces, for various reasons, including long administrative timelines, the way in which buyout offers are made, desires for community cohesion, and attachments to place. Buyout programs have relied primarily on posted price mechanisms involving offers that are accepted or rejected by homeowners with little or no negotiation. In this paper, we describe four alternative strategies that have been used successfully in land-preservation agricultural–environmental contexts to increase acceptance rates and decrease fragmentation: agglomeration bonuses, reverse auctions, target constraints, and hybrid approaches. We discuss challenges that may arise during their implementation in the buyout context—transaction costs, equity and distributional impacts, unintended consequences, and social pressure—and recommend further research into the efficiency and equity of applying these strategies to residential buyout programs with the explicit goal of promoting spatial coordination.

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Critical facility accessibility and road criticality assessment considering flood-induced partial failure

Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure

2023 This paper examines communities’ accessibility to critical facilities such as hospitals, emergency medical services, and emergency shelters when facing flooding. We use travel speed reduction to account for flood-induced partial road failure. A modified betweenness centrality metric is also introduced to calculate the criticality of roads for connecting communities to critical facilities. The proposed model and metric are applied to the Delaware road network under 100-year floods. This model highlights the severe critical facility access loss risk due to flood isolation of facilities. The mapped post-flooding accessibility suggests a significant travel time increase to critical facilities and reveals disparities among communities, especially for vulnerable groups such as long-term care facility residents. We also identified critical roads that are vital for post-flooding access to critical facilities. The results of this research can help inform targeted infrastructure investment decisions and hazard mitigation strategies that contribute to equitable community resilience enhancement.

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The administrator’s dilemma: Closing the gap between climate adaptation justice in theory and practice

Environmental Science & Policy

2022 Justice theory is intended to guide practical choices, but justice theories struggle to inform many decisions that must be made in climate change adaptation practice. This paper highlights gaps between theory and practice by analyzing the justice dimensions of dilemmas routinely faced by adaptation administrators, using the example of property acquisitions to ground the analysis. Justice theories struggle to assist decision-makers in: prioritizing distribution of resources; distributing programs that cause both harms and benefits; weighing uncertain harms and benefits; identifying participants and resolving conflicts in participatory processes; and redressing historic injustices. Proposals to improve adaptation justice that do not address one or more of the practical dilemmas faced by administrators are unlikely to advance the cause. Absent theoretical or policy guidance, decisions are often shaped by administrators’ unconscious heuristics such as views on the role of government and the purpose of buyouts. Tailoring justice-relevant decisions to local contexts may provide greater benefits than a universal approach to justice, but a relative approach is most likely to be just when justice-relevant decisions are transparent and informed by theoretical and empirical work. Transparency is critical for accountability, evaluation, and policy learning. Justice decisions are often constrained by limited authority, resources, and institutional goals, so achieving greater justice in climate adaptation may require changes in the larger governance systems within which adaptation decisions are made. More nuanced evaluations of adaptation justice, more comparative analyses, enabled by greater transparency in practice, and more holistic approaches to adaptation governance are recommended moving forward.

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A global assessment of policy tools to support climate adaptation

Climate Policy

2022 Governments, businesses, and civil society organizations have diverse policy tools to incentivize adaptation. Policy tools can shape the type and extent of adaptation, and therefore, function either as barriers or enablers for reducing risk and vulnerability. Using data from a systematic review of academic literature on global adaptation responses to climate change (n = 1549 peer-reviewed articles), we categorize the types of policy tools used to shape climate adaptation. We apply qualitative and quantitative analyses to assess the contexts where particular tools are used, along with equity implications for groups targeted by the tools, and the tools’ relationships with transformational adaptation indicators such as the depth, scope, and speed of adaptation. We find diverse types of tools documented across sectors and geographic regions. We also identify a mismatch between the tools that consider equity and those that yield more transformational adaptations. Direct regulations, plans, and capacity building are associated with higher depth and scope of adaptation (thus transformational adaptation), while economic instruments, information provisioning, and networks are not; the latter tools, however, are more likely to target marginalized groups in their design and implementation. We identify multiple research gaps, including a need to assess instrument mixes rather than single tools and to assess adaptations that result from policy implementation.

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A systematic global stocktake of evidence on human adaptation to climate change

Nature Climate Change

2021 Assessing global progress on human adaptation to climate change is an urgent priority. Although the literature on adaptation to climate change is rapidly expanding, little is known about the actual extent of implementation. We systematically screened >48,000 articles using machine learning methods and a global network of 126 researchers. Our synthesis of the resulting 1,682 articles presents a systematic and comprehensive global stocktake of implemented human adaptation to climate change. Documented adaptations were largely fragmented, local and incremental, with limited evidence of transformational adaptation and negligible evidence of risk reduction outcomes. We identify eight priorities for global adaptation research: assess the effectiveness of adaptation responses, enhance the understanding of limits to adaptation, enable individuals and civil society to adapt, include missing places, scholars and scholarship, understand private sector responses, improve methods for synthesizing different forms of evidence, assess the adaptation at different temperature thresholds, and improve the inclusion of timescale and the dynamics of responses.

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Education (3)

Stanford University: PhD, Interdisciplinary Environment and Resources 2018

Harvard Law School: JD 2010

Harvard University: AB, Human Evolutionary Biology 2007

Affiliations (6)

  • American Bar Association
  • American Political Science Association
  • American Society of Adaptation Professionals
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Association for Computers and the Humanities
  • Environmental Law Institute

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (4)

Putting Retreat in Context

Managed Retreat Conference  Columbia University, New York


Ludic Solarites Panel (Solarpunk Climate Fiction)

Situated Solar Relations  Concordia


Community driven relocation as a strategy for a fair adaptation to the climate crisis in Puerto Rico

FEMA Webinar  


Expert Workshop on Climate Sensitivity of Human Mobility

Expert Workshop on Climate Sensitivity of Human Mobility  Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)