Theses and Dissertations



Meng, Qingmin

Committee Member

Winata, Fikriyah

Committee Member

Wang, Hui

Committee Member

Fu, Yong

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible MSU only 1 year

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


Natural disasters have become more severe and frequent than previous assessments with global warming. The increasing risk of natural disasters presents different groups of populations with diverse vulnerabilities, particularly those underrepresented social groups which need specific support before, during, and after extreme disasters. Hence, it is highly desired to examine vulnerability quantitatively and qualitatively across different social groups in risk to natural disasters. This dissertation study aims to investigate the measure of social vulnerability to two types of climate change-related natural disasters: sea-level-rise floodings and wildfires. In the study of sea-level-rise floodings, high-risk flooding areas are first identified for a coastal city. Then, we measure social vulnerability index (SVI) using a new SVI metric to identify vulnerable social groups which should be paid more attention for coastal flooding disaster mitigation. Compared to existing SVI methods, the new SVI leverages principal component analysis and analytic hierarchy process to achieve a better social vulnerability analysis. In the study of wildfires, we focus on the understanding of minority vulnerabilities and their disparities to wildfires over time and space. Minority vulnerabilities are analyzed with spatial clustering methods including Local Moran’s I and Getis-Ord Gi*. The vulnerability disparity is measured based on a reference point from which the quantity separates a minority group on a particular place. Both location quotient and location amplitude index are used to quantitively measure the vulnerability disparity among different minorities. Lastly, in addition to the “direct” impact of disasters on vulnerable population, this dissertation study also conducts vulnerability analysis to failed infrastructure (e.g., power systems) due to disasters, i.e., the “indirect” impact of disasters on different social groups. Recently, scheduled power outages known as Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) are becoming increasingly common to mitigate threats of wildfires to power systems. However, current PSPS decision making processes do not consider the unequal distribution of various social groups, particularly those who are more vulnerable to the power outage. This study investigates the measure of social vulnerability in high-risk fire areas to PSPS, which will help decision makers to better determine the efficiency of a PSPS event for wildfire mitigation.