Ann-Marsha Alexis

MIT Department: Media Arts and Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Danielle Wood
Undergraduate Institution: Wellesley College
Research Poster
Lightning Talk


I’m a rising senior physics major at Wellesley College, with a minor in Philosophy. I am interested in scientific computing as it relates to astrophysics, geophysics, and the environmental sciences. My aim is to do research in computational physics, particularly in the fields of relativity, particle physics, and quantum mechanics. I am also interested in continuing the work I have done in simulating the effects of climate change on earth’s systems. I am passionate about science communication, addressing environmental injustice, and changing paradigms of science. In my free time, I like baking, knitting, playing instruments, and learning languages.

2021 Abstract

Changing Coastal Flooding for At-Risk Communities in the
Developing World

Ann-Marsha Alexis¹, Dara Entekhabi², Miho Mazereeuw³, Danielle Wood⁴
¹Department of Physics, Wellesley College
²Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences,
³School of Architecture + Planning,
⁴MIT Media Lab

In light of climate change, flooding disproportionately affects hundreds of millions of people in coastal, low elevation urban areas. Moreover, it is often the case that those affected are already facing inequalities due to their specific identity, class, income level, or occupation. Flooding is exacerbated by high tides associated with sea-level rise and the incidence of storms. However, there is a current lack of research that considers these environmental variables in conjunction. We assessed Maputo, Mozambique due to its status as a post-colonial state and its sensitivity to flooding. We aspire to expand our research to other similarly situated regions. To provide policy-makers with needed and relevant information, we are examining the effects of flooding risks from a systems thinking viewpoint encompassed by the EVDT (Environment-Vulnerability-Decision-Technology) framework developed by Space Enabled at the MIT Media Lab. In addition to modeling the environment, the framework allows us to examine the human vulnerabilities to flooding, environmentally relevant decision-making and technology production or transfer.

For the environmental model, we are using harmonic modeling to study tides in Maputo in order to predict the occurrences of “sunny day” flooding. This multi-step analysis also includes sea-level rise projections, probabilistic storm generation, and recently available space-enabled measurements (German Space Agency’s Tandem-X and NASA’s IceSat2) to develop high-resolution elevation and risk assessment maps. We are partnering with relevant scientists and community members for more complete data and expect to collaboratively develop coastal flooding hazard mitigation strategies.