World Class Faculty & Research / April 25, 2019

Maryland Smith Researchers to Present Supply Chain Climate Vulnerability Index in May 8 Webinar

A University of Maryland research team, including representatives of Maryland Smith’s Supply Chain Management Center, will present findings supporting their recently completed "Climate Change Variability/Vulnerability Index” in a free webinar, hosted by software firm and project partner Resilinc, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. Register via

The 90-minute program will serve to explain the index and its supporting data as a means “to provide actionable information to supply chain executives so that they can make better decisions about how to allocate resources to reduce risk,” says one of the webinar presenters, Melissa Kenney, Associate Research Professor for UMD's Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and Associate Director of Knowledge Initiatives at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

The index provides "a critical snapshot of the vulnerability to climate change of the supply chain of an individual business,” adds co-presenter Michael Gerst, Assistant Research Professor with ESSIC/CICS.

The significance of the work has been underscored by last November’s release of a U.S. National Climate Assessment that says: "Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century."

Gerst and Kenney, with co-researchers Sandor Boyson, research professor and co-director of UMD’s Supply Chain Management Center in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, and Maryland Smith supply chain management Ph.D. student Laharish Guntuka, describe the index as a call to action for supply chain managers to shift from taking a “traditional disaster management” approach characterized by a narrow response planning scope for episodic, time-limited events to a “climate change management” approach based on continuous, short- and long-term time horizons and planning scopes.

Accordingly, industry-specific applications, the researchers say, could involve:

  • Life sciences, healthcare, and pharma companies seeking to ensure their critical drug suppliers are making onsite mitigation efforts to buffer against climate risk and ensure uninterrupted supplies of highest purity water and feedstocks in production.
  • Companies looking to protect network data centers from extremes of flooding or drought that could affect energy-air conditioning systems.
  • The Department of Defense using the index to help game out short-to-long-term scenarios of climate change impacts on military base networks and forward positions around the world.
  • Regional-local planners looking to target climate risk-related trouble spots in transport and business support infrastructure.

The index blends temperature and precipitation data from large-scale historical databases spanning 19 years with production-location risk data (from 12,000 multi-industry production locations in the United States and China) and real-time satellite data. "We have [UMD's] business school and Silicon Valley-based partner, Resilinc, joining forces with a university-based climate change center (ESSIC) that's linked directly to the federal government (NOAA) and its long-term climate prediction center,” says Boyson.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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