Climate Change

Climate Change

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A home poised on the edge in coastal Rhode Island after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. (RI Sea Grant photo)
A home poised on the edge in coastal Rhode Island after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. (credit: RI Sea Grant )

The consensus among scientists across multiple disciplines is clear: Global climate change is real, and society is just beginning to grapple with ways to adapt to its impacts. The effects are evident along our planet’s vulnerable slivers of coastline, home to the world’s 15 largest cities and 40 percent of the global population. Impacts will ripple throughout society in conflicts over resources, economic fallout from natural disasters, degradation of ecosystems, spread of disease, threats to food security and disruptive population shifts.

CRC is a globally recognized expert on issues affecting communities as they struggle to adapt to changing coasts. CRC partners with all levels of governments, nonprofit organizations, universities, businesses and the public to better understand, integrate and share knowledge about climate change, minimize its impacts and plan for the future. CRC takes an integrated, evidence-based approach to its climate change work.

Our guiding principles

Through decades of experience and lessons learned, CRC has developed these guidelines:

  • Engage a broad group of stakeholders in a participatory process to assess vulnerability, select courses of action and implementation.
  • Build support, tap into local knowledge and understand local issues and impacts to prepare a plan that most everyone supports
  • Apply an evidence-based approach that relies on the best available science coupled with adaptive management that allows for improvements and changes as a situation evolves
  • Focus on human perception of risks, which is what drives processes and decisions Consider a community’s development priorities as the starting point into which climate change adaptation and mitigation are integrated rather than using climate change as the starting point
  • Stress the need for short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term gains
  • Emphasize collaboration among local, national, regional experts and institutions Include climate change adaptation in official management systems (disaster, coastal zone, fisheries, governance)
  • Be mindful of the balance between adaptation and mitigation with “no-regrets” adaptation a priority; mitigation can be an option when cost effective and an investment in the long-term good
  • Tailor coastal adaptations to the local context through an inclusive process that matches climate change issues with local capabilities
  • When needed, develop the capacity of local people and institutions to sustain a CCA plan and ensure they have the tools to do so
  • Be sure all parties know that this work takes time and attention to details—even those tedious tasks at start-up—but devoting that effort is critical to ultimate and lasting success
  • Avoid duplication of other donor-funded projects; link your efforts to other relevant initiatives, activities and donors



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  • Designing and scoping climate change vulnerability assessments for coastal national parks in the northeast region: Guidance and lessons learned Ricci, G., D. Robadue, Jr., and A. L. Babson 1 April 2017

    To plan for climate change adaptation, park resource managers need scientific information identifying the susceptibility of resources to climate change, when impacts are expected and how they are expected to interact with existing stressors. Climate change vulnerability assessments are a priority for many parks to support adaptation planning, but there is a need for park specific guidance on scoping, implementing and using vulnerability assessments. Several frameworks and resources are available focusing on coastal communities and on natural resources. This document summarizes some of these and draws lessons from assessments already completed or underway in parks in the Northeast. The National Park Service (NPS) has initiated a range of climate change research and monitoring actions that address park vulnerability assessment needs. This guide provides additional materials to assist coastal parks in the Northeast Region (NER) to move forward with their vulnerability assessments and describes how to apply results to management. While the frameworks and examples that are the focus of this guide were primarily developed for natural resources, cultural resources and facilities examples are provided as available. This guide represents the combined experience and guidance from NER coastal park resource managers in hopes that others in the region will be aware of the numerous activities happening and lessons learned in the region.

  • National Coastal Planning Workshop Agbogah, K., Etornam Kassah, J. and Sowah, S. 15 June 2016

    This document contains the proceedings of the National Coastal Planning Workshop in Ghana. In April, 2016, extreme tidal events along the coast of Ghana reported as “Tidal Waves” did considerable damage to private and public infrastructure. The wave events and destruction that followed has highlighted the need for a forum to discuss the issues, learn lessons and put institutional arrangements in place to plan for and respond to coastal hazards. The workshop’s objectives included understanding the nature and extent of these events and exploring ways to help address such losses in the future and consider the range of options to protect, rehabilitate, relocate and redesign vulnerable settlements and infrastructure. A total of 34 participants from local and international institutions, as well as representatives of affected communities, attended the 2-day workshop held at the Pempamsie Hotel in Cape Coast.

  • Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change Through Local Conservation Efforts Rubinoff, P, C. Rubin, D. Robadue, J. Riccitelli, C. Collins, D. Robadue, C. Damon, K. Ruddock, P. August, C. Chaffee, E. Horton-Hall, and A. Ryan 1 December 2013

    This document reports on the results from the collaborative work of individuals from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography and the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, The South Kingstown Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. The contributions of the South Kingstown Land Trust were invaluable as they shared their experience and insights on land trust conservation as the foundation for then applying a climate change “lens.”

  • SFMP Progress Report April 1 to June 30, 2015 Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island/SFMP Accra, Ghana 30 June 2015

    A quarterly report on the programmatic progress of the USAID/Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP).

  • Newport Resilience Assessment Tour: Newport Waterfront Overview Summary Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island 1 March 2015

    Summary of the Newport waterfront resilience assessment tour, which took place in the Summer 2014.