Jeff Birchall, PhD, RPP, MCIP

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science - Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Admin
(780) 248-5758
3-115 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Local climate impacts climate adaptation resilience planning local governance


I am an Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. I have broad research and teaching experience in climate/ environmental change and planning, and specific expertise in local governance and sustainability. I have a range of academic and public sector experience, with an education that includes study in human geography (BA) and planning (BES), and advanced study in climate change (MES) and sustainability (PhD). 

I am a registered professional planner through the Alberta Professional Planners Institute (RPP) and the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP).

I am the Director of the Climate Adaptation and Resilience Lab (CARL) and serve as Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Local-scale Planning, Climate Change and Resilience (


My research program, while grounded in community planning, is interdisciplinary in scope, and explores the broad theme of environmental resilience at the local scale.

My work on environmental resilience primarily examines local scale governance, and decision dynamics around motivational factors and extent of local planning for climate change risk reduction. Specifically, I am interested in localized environmental impacts (eg. weak shore-fast ice, permafrost thaw, erosion, flooding, wildfire) and how they affect critical infrastructure (eg. seawalls, roads, utilities, assets) and the built form (eg. land use, zoning), how this relates to planning decisions, and what this means for community well-being and safety. Research is largely driven by key actor and local stakeholder engagement, and includes site assessments and the examination of strategic planning documents. Ultimately, the aim of my research is the (co-) production of policy relevant knowledge/ outcomes, and translating theory into practice in a useful, locally informed way. 


PLAN 500 - Planning for Resilient Cities and Regions

The role of adaptive and resilience oriented planning to contribute to the development of regions that can sustain themselves and prosper through change and uncertainty. Sections offered at an increased rate of fee assessment; refer to the Tuition and Fees page in the University Regulations sections of the Calendar.

Browse more courses taught by Jeff Birchall

Scholarly Activities

Research - Coastal Community Climate Change Resilience - Arctic Coast

Started: 201805

Case studies include communities in Yukon (Haines Junction, Whitehorse, Dawson City), Alaska (Nome, Homer)

Research - Coastal Community Climate Change Resilience - Atlantic Coast

Started: 201705

Case studies include communities in New Brunswick (Fredericton), Nova Scotia (Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Halifax), PEI (Charlottetown)

Research - Coastal Community Climate Change Resilience - Pacific Coast

Started: 201606

Case studies include communities in British Columbia (Cities: Victoria, Surrey, North Vancouver, Nanaimo; Regional Districts: Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Alberi-Clayoquot, Cowichan Valley)

Research - International Thematic Network Lead - Local-scale Planning, Climate Change and Resilience

New international network on climate change led by UAlberta scientist


The influence of governance structure on local resilience: Enabling and constraining factors for climate change adaptation in practice

Author(s): Birchall, SJ., Bonnett, N., Kehler, S.
Publication Date: 2023
Publication: Urban Climate
DOI: 10.1016/j.uclim.2022.101348
External Link:

Growing resilient: The potential of urban agriculture for increasing food security and improving earthquake recovery

Author(s): Slater, T., Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 9/15/2022
Publication: Cities
DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2022.103930
External Link:

Fostering resilience and adapting to climate change the Canadian North: Implications for infrastructure in the proposed Canadian Northern Corridor

Author(s): S Jeff Birchall; Sarah Kehler, Nicole Bonnett
Publication Date: 6/20/2022
Publication: School of Public Policy Publications (University of Calgary)
Issue: Canadian Northern Corridor Special Series
DOI: 10.11575/sppp.v15i1.74463
External Link:

Arctic and northern community governance: The need for local planning and design as resilience strategy

Author(s): Kristof van Assche, S. Jeff Birchall, Monica Gruezmacher
Publication Date: 2/21/2022
Publication: Land Use Policy
DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106062
External Link:

The influence of regional strategic policy on municipal climate adaptation planning

Author(s): Bonnett, N., Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 2/15/2022
Publication: Regional Studies
DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2022.2049224
External Link:

An assessment of systems, agents, and institutions in building community resilience to climate change: A case study of Charlottetown, Canada

Author(s): Birchall, SJ., MacDonald, S., Baran, N.
Publication Date: 1/3/2022
Publication: Urban Climate
DOI: 10.1016/j.uclim.2021.101062
External Link:

Social vulnerability and climate change adaptation: The critical importance of moving beyond technocratic policy approaches

Author(s): Kehler, S. Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 8/1/2021
Publication: Environmental Science & Policy
DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2021.07.025
External Link:

Challenges to climate change adaptation in coastal small towns: Examples from Ghana, Uruguay, Finland, Denmark, and Alaska

Author(s): Fitton, J., Addo, K.A, Jayson-Quashigah, P-N., Nagy, G., Gutierrez, O., Panario, D., Carro, I., Seijo, L., Segura, C., Verocai, J.E., Luoma, S., Klien, J., Zhang, T-T, Birchall, SJ., Stempel, P.
Publication Date: 6/28/2021
Publication: Ocean and Coastal Management
External Link:

Anticipatory Planning: Finding balance in climate change adaptation governance

Author(s): Birchall, SJ., MacDonald, S., Slater, T.
Publication Date: 4/25/2021
Publication: Urban Climate
External Link:

Wildfire risk and response in Jasper National Park, Alberta: Application of an adaptation readiness framework

Author(s): Halabut, R., Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 4/25/2021
Publication: Canadian Geographer
DOI: 10.1111/cag.12702
External Link:

Climate change adaptation policy and planning: The role of agents, institutions and systems

Author(s): Birchall, SJ, Bonnett, N
Publication Date: 1/11/2021
Publication: Cities
Volume: 108
External Link:

The built environment in a winter climate: Improving university campus design for student wellbeing

Author(s): McDonald-Yale, E., Birchall, SJ
Publication Date: 2021
Publication: Landscape Research
External Link:

Coastal communities in the Circumpolar North and the need for sustainable climate adaptation approaches

Author(s): Bonnett, N., Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 8/15/2020
Publication: Marine Policy
External Link:

Resilience, reinvention and transition during and after quarantine

Author(s): van Asshe, K., Duineveld, M., Birchall, SJ., Deacon, L., Beunen, R., Gruezmacher, M., Boezeman, D.
Publication Date: 7/16/2020
Publication: Space and Culture
External Link:

Coastal climate adaptation planning and evolutionary governance: Insights from Homer, Alaska

Author(s): Birchall
Publication Date: 2/1/2020
Publication: Marine Policy
Volume: 112
Issue: Land and Sea Interaction Special Issue
External Link:

Climate change resilience in the Canadian Arctic: The need for collaboration in the face of a changing landscape

Author(s): MacDonald, S., Birchall, SJ.
Publication Date: 12/17/2019
Publication: Canadian Geographer
External Link:

Thinning sea ice and thawing permafrost: Climate change adaptation planning in Nome, Alaska

Author(s): Birchall, SJ., Bonnett, N.
Publication Date: 7/2/2019
Publication: Environmental Hazards
Volume: 19
Issue: 2
Page Numbers: 157-170
External Link:

Local-scale climate change stressors and policy response: The case of Homer, Alaska

Author(s): Birchall, SJ, Bonnett, N.
Publication Date: 10/15/2018
Publication: Environmental Planning and Management
Volume: 62
Issue: 13
Page Numbers: 2238-2254
External Link:

Designing open space for seismic resilience

Author(s): French, EL, Birchall, SJ, Landman, K, Brown, R.
Publication Date: 3/1/2018
Publication: Disaster Risk Reduction
External Link:

An Investigation into the early stages of New Zealand’s Voluntary Carbon Market

Author(s): Birchall, SJ, Murphy, M, Milne, M.
Publication Date: 1/4/2018
Publication: Carbon Management
External Link:

Structural challenges that contributed to the decline of the Communities for Climate Protection program

Author(s): Birchall, SJ
Publication Date: 2017
Publication: Local Environment
DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2014.945404
External Link:

Mixed methods research: A comprehensive approach for study into the New Zealand voluntary carbon market

Author(s): Birchall, SJ, Murphy, M, Milne, M
Publication Date: 7/24/2016
Publication: Qualitative Report
DOI: 10.46743/2160-3715/2016.2398
External Link:

Evolution of the New Zealand voluntary carbon market: An analysis of CarboNZero client disclosures

Author(s): Birchall, SJ, Murphy, M, Milne, M
Publication Date: 7/6/2015
Publication: Social and Environmental Accountability
DOI: 10.1080/0969160X.2015.1061444
External Link: