Erin Coughlan de Perez

Erin Coughlan de PerezResearch Director and Dignitas Professor
Dignitas Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition
Senior Advisor, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Working with Feinstein Since: 2021
Based in: Boston, MA

Erin Coughlan de Perez bridges science, policy, and practice in her research on climate risk management around the world. She focuses on extreme events, exploring how droughts, floods, heatwaves, and other climate shocks can be anticipated before they happen. Erin works with humanitarian teams on early warning systems for disasters, and she spearheaded the rise of Anticipatory Action in the humanitarian sector. Erin researches the adoption and effectiveness of climate change adaptation measures.

Erin currently serves as the principal investigator on several global projects, including the Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action, an international consortium of seven universities. She also leads a large NASA-funded research project on unprecedented extreme events in the United States, in collaboration with the American Red Cross.

Erin was also a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report. Her chapter is Decision-Making Options for Managing Risk, as part of the Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Erin serves as an academic editor for the journal PLOS Climate, and she is on the Council of the American Meteorological Society. She co-chairs the USAID BIFAD Subcommittee on Systemic Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems.

Erin comes to the Center from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, where she built a global climate science team and led the first forecast-based financing pilots in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. Erin retains a technical advisor position at the Climate Centre, to maintain links to humanitarian operations around the world. Erin was formerly an associate at Columbia University.

Erin received her Ph.D. from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, her M.A. in climate and society from Columbia University, and her B.S. in environmental science and international development from McGill University. 

Erin lives in Boston with her partner and children.

Research Interests:
  • Disaster risk management 
  • Climate change adaptation 
  • Forecast-based Financing 
Courses Taught:
  • Climate Change: Risk and Adaptation in Food Systems and Beyond (NUTR0256), Fall Term
  • Modeling Climate Extremes (pending), Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Coughlan de Perez, Erin, Bart van den Hurk, Maarten K. van Aalst, Irene Amuron, Deus Bamanya, Tristan Hauser, Brenden Jongma et al. “Action-based flood forecasting for triggering humanitarian action.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 20, no. 9 (2016): 3549-3560. 
  • Coughlan de Perez, E., B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, M. K. Van Aalst, B. Jongman, T. Klose, and P. Suarez. “Forecast-based financing: an approach for catalyzing humanitarian action based on extreme weather and climate forecasts.” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 15, no. 4 (2015): 895-904. 
  • Jongman, Brenden, Hessel C. Winsemius, Jeroen CJH Aerts, Erin Coughlan De Perez, Maarten K. Van Aalst, Wolfgang Kron, and Philip J. Ward. “Declining vulnerability to river floods and the global benefits of adaptation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 18 (2015): E2271-E2280. 
  • Ward, Philip J., Brenden Jongman, Peter Salamon, Alanna Simpson, Paul Bates, Tom De Groeve, Sanne Muis et al. “Usefulness and limitations of global flood risk models.” Nature Climate Change 5, no. 8 (2015): 712-715. 
  • Jongman, Brenden, Jurjen Wagemaker, Beatriz Revilla Romero, and Erin Coughlan De Perez. “Early flood detection for rapid humanitarian response: harnessing near real-time satellite and Twitter signals.” ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 4, no. 4 (2015): 2246-2266. 
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Towner, Jamie, Hannah L. Cloke, Waldo Lavado, William Santini, Juan Bazo, Erin Coughlan de Perez, and Elisabeth M. Stephens. “Attribution of Amazon floods to modes of climate variability: A review.” Meteorological Applications 27, no. 5 (2020): e1949. 
  • Gros, Clemens, Meghan Bailey, Saroja Schwager, Ahmadul Hassan, Raymond Zingg, Muhammad Mamtaz Uddin, Mohammad Shahjahan et al. “Household-level effects of providing forecast-based cash in anticipation of extreme weather events: Quasi-experimental evidence from humanitarian interventions in the 2017 floods in Bangladesh.” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 41 (2019): 101275. 
  • Coughlan de Perez, Erin, Maarten van Aalst, Richard Choularton, Bart van den Hurk, Simon Mason, Hannah Nissan, and Saroja Schwager. “From rain to famine: assessing the utility of rainfall observations and seasonal forecasts to anticipate food insecurity in East Africa.” Food security 11, no. 1 (2019): 57-68. 
  • Singh, Roop K., Julie Arrighi, Erin Coughlan de Perez, Olivia Warrick, Pablo Suarez, Bettina Koelle, Eddie Jjemba et al. “International Conference on Climate Risk Management, inputs for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report.” Climate and development 11, no. 8 (2019): 655-658. 
  • Nissan, Hannah, Lisa Goddard, Erin Coughlan de Perez, John Furlow, Walter Baethgen, Madeleine C. Thomson, and Simon J. Mason. “On the use and misuse of climate change projections in international development.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 10, no. 3 (2019): e579. 

News Items

4As team generated conversation at the Global Dialogue Platform
December 9, 2022

The Anticipation Hub’s 10th Global Dialogue Platform took place in Berlin and online from December 6 – 8, 2022. The Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action (4As) partners led a number…

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Erin Coughlan de Perez elected to American Meteorological Society Council
December 1, 2022

Erin Coughlan de Perez was elected to the 2023 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Council. The Council is the principal governing body of the Society. The AMS is a global community…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Preventing Famine in the 21st Century

This project reconsiders our understanding of famines, the dynamics that give rise to famines, the resilience of populations subjected to these dynamics, and the means of prevention at the disposal of governments, humanitarian agencies, donors, and the affected populations.

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Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action

The Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action (4As) is a global consortium of universities that will develop the evidence base on anticipatory action.

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Feinstein Publications

Anticipatory Action in Motion: Recapping the most recent evidence and illuminating a pathway forward
Cover of Report "Anticipatory Action in Motion"

This anticipatory action landscape brief summarizes what has been published on anticipatory action since 2020 and what progress has been made on existing recommendations.

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Disaster Risk Financing: An Overview From Lesotho
cover of report about disaster risk financing in Lesotho

This brief examines Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa that is highly vulnerable to climate hazards, is equipped to make use of DRF.

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