As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, communities are increasingly likely to face the compounding impacts of a new natural disaster before recovering from the last—or experience cascading disasters as one event triggers another, such as heavy rains precipitating a mudslide on an exposed hillside after a recent wildfire burn.

In March 2022, PSE Healthy Energy’s Dr. Elena Krieger was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on Hazard Mitigation and Resilience Applied Research Topics. The committee was convened to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in identifying research and programs needed to mitigate and build resilience to these compounding and cascading disasters.

The resulting report, Resilience for Compounding and Cascading Events, provides research recommendations related to 1) better characterizing these compounding and cascading events, 2) developing mitigation and resilience strategies, and 3) implementation and governance.


Based on insights from a workshop hosted by the committee and the committee members’ knowledge, committee members identified the following approaches to set applied research priorities for compounding and cascading disasters:

  1. Defining the problem—drivers, systems, and relationships that impact understanding.
    of compounding and cascading disasters.
  2. Mitigating impacts—developing solutions and avoiding unintended consequences.
  3. Effectively implementing solutions and strategies, and governance for those solutions
    and strategies.

Within each approach, the report outlines recommended specific applied research questions and actions.