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College of Arts & Sciences
School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment

Kirstin Dow

Professor, Geography

Phone Number: 803-777-2482
Office: Callcott 213
Research Areas: Climate Change
Environmental Risks & Hazards
Society, Policy & Environment
Research Summary:

I am interested in the co-production of science to inform decision-making climate change, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation.  I work primarily with a large interdisciplinary research team, the Carolina Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA), one of the 11 NOAA-supported Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments projects. CISA addresses climate modelling, drought, human health, watershed modelling, coastal hazards, and adaptation.  My current research projects focus on understanding limits to adaptation, the role of social networks increasing adaptive capacity, analytical-deliberative processes for adaptation, and drought impacts and early warning systems.

Kirstin Dow

Dr. Kirstin Dow is Professor of Geography, having earned her Ph.D. from Clark University, and joined the USC faculty in 1996. She is a social environmental geographer focusing on understanding the human dimensions of environmental change, environmental hazards, and environmental development; especially regarding climate impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation. She was recently named as Fellow to the 2016 inaugural class of AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement with Science. 

She serves as principal investigator of the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, an interdisciplinary research team that bridges climate science and decision making. She has also engaged public concerns as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment, Working Group 2 report and author on the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers. Dow is co-author of The Atlas of Climate Change, a seminal work published in ten languages. She recently completed her term as editor of the American Meteorological Society journal, Weather, Climate, and Society, and currently serves as an editorial board member of Climate Risk Management and the Southeastern Geographer. Kirstin is also a science advisor on climate change mitigation and adaptation for community and national efforts. Most notably in this regard, she is a lead author of a special report on recommendations for establishing a sustained US National Climate Assessment capability and on the Research Needs chapter for the Third US National Climate Assessment (currently under review). In addition, she was a co-editor of the Southeast Region Technical Report to the National Climate Assessment and the lead author on the adaptation chapter of that report. Other publications on climate change, impacts, and adaptation have appeared in Nature Climate Change, SustainabilityJournal of Environmental Assessment Policy and ManagementNatural Hazards,Global Environmental ChangeJournal of the American Water Resources, and Geography Compass. Her research is largely supported by grants from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.


GEOG 830: Seminar in Environmental Geography

GEOG 810: Qualitative Methods
GEOG 801: Contemporary Approaches to Geography
GEOG 568: Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
GEOG 343: Human Impact on the Environment

Representative Publications 


K. Dow and T.E. Downing. 2006; 2nd edition, 2007; 3rd edition, 2011. The Atlas of Climate Change. U.S. Edition: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA; UK Edition: Earthscan, London, UK. Foreign language versions of the 2nd edition are also available in German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Thai.

Edited Books

Adam Parris, Gregg Garfin, Kirstin Dow,  Ryan Meyer, and Sarah L. Close, eds. April 2016. Climate in Context : Science and Society Partnering for Adaptation. John Wiley and Sons: AGU.

K.T. Ingram, K. Dow, L. Carter, and J. Andersen, eds. 2013. Climate of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts, and Vulnerability. Island Press, Washington. (peer-reviewed)

Refereed Journal Articles

K. Lackstrom, N. Kettle, B. Haywood, and K. Dow. Climate-Sensitive Decisions and Time Frames: A Cross-Sectoral Analysis of Information Pathways in the Carolinas. Weather, Climate, and Society.

K. Dow, F. Berkhout, and B.L. Preston. 2013. Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change: A Risk Approach. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5:384–391.

B. Haywood, N. Kettle, K. Lackstrom, and K. Dow. 2013. Negotiating a Mainstreaming Spectrum: Climate Change Response & Communication in the Carolinas. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 13(1) doi:10.1007/s10113-013-0440-8.

K. Dow, F. Berkhout, B. Preston, R. Klein, G. Midgley, and R. Shaw. 2013. Limits to Adaptation. Nature Climate Change 3 (April): 305-307; doi:10.1038/nclimate1847.

B.L. Preston, K. Dow, and F. Berkhout. 2013. The Climate Adaptation Frontier. Sustainability 2013 (5): 1011-1035; doi:10.3390/su5031011.

K. Dow, B. Haywood, N. Kettle, and K. Lackstrom. 2013. The Role of Ad Hoc Networks in Supporting Climate Change Adaptation: A Case Study from the Southeastern United States. Regional Environmental Change 13(1), doi:10.1007/s10113-013-0440-8.