Guangqing Chi's website    



Current Research Projects


1. Collaborative Research: Population–Infrastructure Nexus: A Heterogeneous Flow–based Approach for Responding to Disruptions in Interdependent Infrastructure Systems, funded by the National Science Foundation Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes program (Award # 1541136). Role: PI (with Xiaopeng Li of USF as the other PI; Mengqi Hu of UIC, co-PI).


Reducing the instability and vulnerability of the critical and complex population–infrastructure system is essential for a more efficient, resilient, and vital society. Recent catastrophic events, such as the Northeast Blackout of 2003 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, shut down or interrupted essential and interdependent components of our national infrastructure, such as electric networks, fuel supplies, and transportation systems. This vulnerability is heightened by changing population dynamics that impose serious challenges to our infrastructure system in efficiently responding to both moderate disturbances and extreme events.

The primary goal of this interdisciplinary research project, says Chi, is to increase the resilience of our interdependent population–infrastructure system during disturbances of various magnitudes, ranging from operational uncertainties to major disruptions. He adds that the research will contribute to the development of "smart communities/cities" where multiple stakeholders can work together to achieve common goals. Another goal of this research is to develop innovative educational and training modules to provide a vision of efficient, resilient, and socially vital communities and built environments as well as the means to achieve them.

For the project, researchers plan to develop a framework to assess the critical and complex interdependence of various infrastructure systems and population groups. The framework will also assist city planners in analyzing short-term mobility behaviors as well as the long-term social and demographic evolution of the interconnection of population and infrastructure. Chi says that the model developed in the research will be integrated with a cyber-communications system based on self-organized “swarm intelligence” to create a realistic system in which individuals and groups, by communicating their available information, behave in a unified, cohesive manner.

2. How Environmental Change in Central Asian Highlands Impacts High Elevation Communities, funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration Land Cover/Land Use Change Program (Award # NNX15AP81G). Role: co-I (PI: Geoffrey Henebry of South Dakota State University; the other co-I: Pavel Groisman).

Project Summary:

Highlanders are different.  People gestated, born, and raised at high elevation (>2500 m) exhibit distinct physiological characteristics, including increased blood viscosity due to higher hemoglobin content. Chronic physiological stress and lower reproductive success coupled with the short growing season, long cold season, and harsh climatic extremes associated with the montane agro-pastoralism, make high elevation communities particularly vulnerable to additional stressors.

Prior to the Soviet era, highlanders in Central Asia practiced vertical transhumance to raising livestock—sheep and goats—for wool, meat, milk, and hides. Collectivization disrupted this practice with multiple external subsidies. Since 1991 montane agro-pastoralism has been disrupted by withdrawal of external subsides and introduction of a market economy.
Our project evaluates four aspects of environmental change in human settlements and associated summer and winter pasturelands in representative areas of Kyrgyzstan (KG) and Uzbekistan (UZ) since the 1970s and projected changes into the middle of the 21st century to assess impacts on these highland communities and the pastures upon which they depend. Our areas of interest are located in the Central and Southwestern Tien-Shan in the highlands of Osh, Naryn, and Issyk-Kul oblasts in southern KG, and Qashqadayro and Surxondaryo in southern UZ.

The four aspects of environmental change are (1) changes in the thermal regime including growing season timing and extremes, (2) changes in the moisture regime including peak precipitation timing and snow cover duration, (3) changes in socio-economic conditions including income, education, agricultural production and practices, and institutions, and (4) changes in land cover, land use, and land condition including alterations in terrain from landslides and earthquakes.
Key response variables at the scale of human settlements in high elevation regions are the demographic profile (especially aging and gender), population outflow, fertility, and infant mortality, as these indicate the aggregate well-being of the communities. Key response variables for pasture condition are the temporal and spatial patterns of spectral indices based on remote sensing data Landsat and MODIS.

Initial synthesis leads us to pose the following linkages:
[I]    Increasing temperatures reduce snow cover duration and change the growing season in highland pastures, but more warmth may also reduce forage production;
[II]   Increased remittances mean more livestock and more grazing pressure on nearby pastures, but not in remote highland pastures, which led to the declined status of lower pastures nearby human settlements and improved status of higher and more remote pastures; and
[III]  Differential changes in pasture condition and increased remittances led to changes in community well-being, characterized by population decline, population aging, lower fertility rates, higher infant mortality rates, and higher international out-migration and internal migration.

Our fundamental question is whether change in pasture condition can be detected through remote sensing and linked to community well-being through econometric and structural equation modeling. The ancillary question of how climate change drives the change of pasture condition can be addressed through remote sensing of land surface seasonality (snow cover metrics) and land surface phenology (vegetation indices) and careful analysis of precipitation station data complemented by remote sensing of precipitation and soil moisture. The linkage from remittances to community well-being will be tested through econometric and structural equation modeling. Impacts of climate change, changes in pasture condition, and increased remittances on community well-being will be used along with forecasted demographic changes to recommend policy strategies for building resilient communities.

3. Convergence NNA: Coordinate a Transdisciplinary Research Network to Identify Challenges and Solutions of Permafrost Coastal Erosion and Its Socioecological Impact in the Arctic, funded by the National Science Foundation (Award # 1745369). Role: Co-PI (PI: Ming Xiao. Other co-PIs: Kathleen Halvorsen, Benjamin Jones, and Vladimir Romanovsky).


The Permafrost Coastal Erosion-RCN (PCE-RCN) will bring together leaders in fields of natural and social science and engineering to address the challenges faced by coastal communities in the Arctic due to rapid coastal erosion. Rapid coastal erosion can force communities to consider moving inland and limit access to resources. One goal of the proposed PCE-RCN will be to better understand the challenges associated with coastal erosion, which is driven by permafrost thaw and changing sea ice conditions. Another goal is to identify potential solutions and their socio-ecological impacts. These goals will be addressed through a series of international workshops, publications and direct interaction with local media. Engagement with regional and local resource managers and communities will be incorporated throughout many of the activities of the PCE-RCN. This project promotes convergence by focusing on a topic of high societal concern, coastal erosion in the Arctic, and by approaching this topic in a manner that will integrate diverse fields, including social science and natural science disciplines (coastal geophysics, soil physics, climate modelling, and atmospheric science) and disciplines in civil and environmental engineering. 

The proposed Permafrost Coastal Erosion-RCN (PCE-RCN) will bring together national and international leaders in the diverse scientific and engineering disciplines needed to address the pressing societal issue of rapid coastal erosion. Rapid coastal erosion is underway throughout the Arctic, and is impacting coastal communities in profound ways, including displacement and loss of livelihood. The goal of the proposed PCE-RCN will be to further resolve through synthesis activities how coastal erosion is driven by permafrost thaw and changing sea ice conditions and to identify potential solutions and their socio-ecological impacts. These goals will be addressed through a series of international workshops, white papers and other outlets. Engagement with regional and local resource managers and communities will be incorporated throughout many of the activities of the PCE-RCN.