UMass Boston

Paul Kirshen

SFE - Dean's Office
ISC Floor 02

Areas of Expertise

Water Resources Engineering and Management, Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, Climate Change Adaptation Planning


PhD, Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Division of Water Resources, 1975 (Thesis – “Spatial and Temporal Aggregation Issues in a Water Supply Planning Model for West Africa”, advisors David Marks and David Major).
MS, Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Division of Water Resources, 1972 (Thesis – “Screening Model for Management of Combined Sewer Overflows”, advisors David Marks, John Schaake, and Frank Perkins).
ScB, Engineering, Brown University, 1970 (Engineering Project – “Possible Use of Ferro Magnetism to Measure Stress in Structures”, advisor Barton Roessler).

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Paul Kirshen has thirty years of experience serving as principal investigator/ project manager of complex, interdisciplinary, participatory research related to water resources and coastal zone management and climate variability and change. He is presently a professor in the School for the Environment at UMass Boston. Prior to this he was a research professor at the Environmental Research Group of Department of Civil Engineering and the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. He has served as Climate Change Adaptation Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute. From 1996 to 2009, he was a research professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Tufts University and director and co-founder of the Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS) Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program. He is also a lead author for the 2014 Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment and the 2013 US National Climate Assessment, is a member of ICLEI USA– Local Governments for Sustainability’s Climate Adaptation Steering Committee, and a member of the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee and its Coastal Zone and Ocean Subcommittee.

He is currently co-lead on our Climate Resilience research team along with Ellen Douglas. The team is actively engaged in climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning for coastal and urban regions of the northeast.

He was project manager/principal investigator of a $900,000 U.S. EPA grant to investigate the integrated impacts of climate change on metro Boston and to develop recommendations for adaptation actions (CLIMB Project, 1999-2004). This included the infrastructure systems of transportation, water supply, wastewater management, energy demand, coastal and river flooding, public health, and building integrity. Recently, he was leader of a team investigating climate change coastal flooding impacts in the Northeastern United States for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Ongoing relevant projects include developing guidance tools for planning and management of urban drainage systems under a changing climate for U.S. NOAA with Somerville, Massachusetts, as one of the case studies and also for U.S. NOAA investigating the impacts of increased coastal flooding in East Boston, Massachusetts, and eastern shore of Maryland with particular emphasis on vulnerable populations and adaptation options. He is also part of teams conducting a national vulnerability assessment of US Army Corps of Engineers projects and programs, investigating municipal adaptation options to SLR in several New England municipalities using the COAST tool, and developing a drainage and sewer master plan for Boston Water and Sewer Commission. He has also conducted water and climate management research in West Africa since 1974.

He has over fifty published journal articles on these topics as well as many book chapters and reports which include one of the lead authors of Chapter 26 of Working Group 2 IPCC report and the 2013 National Climate Assessment. 

Paul Kirshen CV