Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Energy Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Budhendra L. Bhaduri

Committee Members

Kelsey N. Ellis, Jon M. Hathaway, Bruce E. Tonn


Urban, energy, and water system decision-makers are increasingly focused on preparing for the impacts of climate change. These impacts combine with social, economic, and environmental changes to create nuanced localized effects across systems. Climate change adaptation efforts have largely been organized by sector, even though coupled systems approaches could identify negative consequences and mutually-beneficial actions that occur across systems. These insights are missed when coupled systems are not considered in adaptation efforts. However, constraints inhibit adaptation processes within coupled systems. For example, United States energy-water nexus adaptation is constrained by insufficient data and information, path dependence, and institutional fragmentation and disorganization. Many adaptation decision-making constraints have been identified, but less is understood about what inhibits knowledge production for adaptation. Climate knowledge production environments in Sweden are analyzed in Chapter II to identify constraints. This analysis reveals that climate knowledge producers in Sweden encounter constraints related to knowledge production and dissemination; stakeholder engagement; and institutional, professional, and funding environments. These climate knowledge system production constraints can exacerbate or create new constraints within adaptation decision-making processes. Exactly how knowledge systems influence adaptation is unclear, because the evaluation of knowledge systems for adaptation has rarely been pursued. This lack of evaluation persists, despite the proliferation of knowledge systems for adaptation decision-making to enhance resilience. In Chapter III, a knowledge system evaluation framework is presented and applied to two urban resilience knowledge systems to address this concern. The knowledge system evaluation framework enables assessment of the transferability, scalability, and use of a knowledge system. The findings in this dissertation provide insights focused primarily on the production and use of knowledge for climate change adaptation. Specifically, reflexivity of the knowledge production process is necessary to improve knowledge systems for adaptation; and coupled systems, tradeoffs, and co-beneficial opportunities need consideration or acknowledgement within knowledge systems to avoid negative consequences and missed co-benefits. Finally, if creating effective knowledge for adaptation is the goal of knowledge-making institutions, then they should adapt their frameworks, incentives, plans, and strategies to support the development of actionable information for adaptation decision-making processes.


Chapter I of this document, "Adaptation opportunities and constraints in coupled systems: Evidence from the U.S. Energy-Water Nexus" was originally published by Kathleen M. Ernst and Benjamin L. Preston in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Science & Policy. If citing from Chapter I, please use the following citation: Ernst, K.M. and Preston, B.L. (2017). Adaptation opportunities and constraints in coupled systems: Evidence from the US energy-water nexus. Environmental Science & Policy, 70, 38-45.

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