Klaus Hans Jacob

Klaus H. Jacob, Ph.D., is a geophysicist and a rebuilder. He has worked at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for over 50 years, and is a renowned earthquake, disaster and climate expert. He has a focus on disaster risk management, with most current research on rising sea levels, climate change and disaster resilient megacities.

Jacob served on the Mayor’s New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC, 2008-2019); the NY State’s ClimAID project; and the post-Sandy, HUD-sponsored Rebuild by Design (RBD) research advisory group. TIME Magazine named him one of 50 “people who mattered in 2012” for forecasting consequences of a SANDY-like storm on New York City a year before SANDY hit. He developed for the NY MTA and specifically for its NYC-Transit subway system a climate change adaptation model plan.

Jacob taught courses in disaster risk management at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs; in the Sustainability Management Program of the CU School of Professional Studies; and at Barnard College. He co-led with CU GSAPP faculty international urban planning studios to make cities disaster resilient with focus on Caracas, Venezuela; Istanbul, Turkey; Accra, Ghana; CanTho, Vietnam; and Pune, Maharashtra/India; amongst other locations.

Prior to 2000, his basic and applied research focused largely on earthquake and volcano hazards in Alaska, and many regions on five continents, including Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, El Salvador and others. He was a co-founder of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER/MCEER), and a contributor to the Seismic Building and Bridge Construction Codes for the US, NY State, and NYC.

Jaocb often interacts with the media and professional organizations (architects; urban planners and designers; engineers, journalists) to raise public and professional awareness towards disaster and climates risks, and to achieve sustainable resilience.

Fields of Interest

  • Disaster Risk Management
  • Sustainable Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
  • Flooding Resilience of Coastal Mega-Cities Seismic and Volcanic Hazards
  • Transportation and Communication Infrastructure and Their Resilience to Ntural Hazard Risks
  • Disaster-Resilient Urban Planning, Design and Landuse


  • BS, in Mathematics and Physics, Technical University of Darmstadt
  • MS, in Geophysics, Gutenberg University Mainz
  • PhD in Geophysics/Seismology, Goethe University, Frankfurt / Main

Honors & Awards

2013: "Hero of the NYC Harbor" Waterfront Alliance (NY/NJ)