Enhancing Sea Grant's Ability to Help Coastal Communities Adapt to Climate Change
Principal Investigator:Douglas Lipton
Start/End Year:2010 to 2013
Institution:Maryland Sea Grant
Co-Principal investigator:Virginia Carrasco, Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program University of Maryland College Park
Strategic focus area:Viable coastal communities and economies
Objectives: This proposal seeks to bring together a number of outreach providers in the state who are engaged in climate-related education and technical assistance to identify needs, to coordinate efforts, and to deliver much-needed information and technical tools to coastal communities. This project will complement and enhance an upcoming SARP (Sector Applications Research Program) proposal, which will develop a process for surveying a particularly significant stakeholder group — planning staff — in all counties in Maryland, with the intent of understanding their level of knowledge, their attitudes, and the barriers (for implementation) around climate change adaptation. Results from this survey will inform our effort to connect this target audience with the resources and information they seek, and it will guide subsequent climate outreach and education activities by extension and state-level programs. Methodology: This project will seek to work with both coastal communities and climate change outreach providers, in the following ways: 1) Local Government Exchanges will be organized in various regions/communities in Maryland by partners to share information amongst participants around challenges, opportunities, barriers and perceptions about incorporating climate change into community planning. 2) Maryland Sea Grant and partners will convene a regional forum targeting climate outreach providers. Information gathered from the Local Government Exchange meetings will be used to inform providers on local needs and local challenges they are facing. 3) A series of webinars on emerging science and research around climate change issues relevant for this region will be organized. 4) With the assistance of an intern and the Center for Watershed Protection, a synthesis of the information gathered will be compiled into a needs assessment and recommendations on tool development. Rationale: Maryland is unique in that every county in the state, except for a portion of the westernmost county, is considered a Coastal Zone county. Many communities in Maryland are located in low-lying coastal areas and are therefore more vulnerable to climate change impacts, including storm surges, flooding, and sea level rise. In August 2008, the state issued the Maryland Climate Action Plan (updated in November 2009), which articulates anticipated effects of global warming, recommended actions, and policies. Maryland's Chesapeake and Coastal Program has taken the lead in working with communities on the ground by providing technical and financial assistance — for example, through their Coastal-Smart Communities Initiative and their Coastal Communities Initiative (CCI) grants. Given the limits of capacity and funding, however, they have reached only a few communities, and this proposal seeks to increase the reach of their efforts to help communities address climate change in their projects.