Integrating Climate Science & Decision Making in the Carolinas cisa

CISA: Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, A NOAA RISA Team

Past Projects

Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park was the site of a CISA project

Below are summaries of several recently completed CISA projects. You can find more information about other prior efforts including research findings, completed project reports, presentations, and posters in the CISA Library.

Using VCAPS to Encourage Climate-Resilient Planning in the Coastal Carolinas

CISA partnered with the Beaufort County Planning Department, the SC Sea Grant Consortium, NC Sea Grant, and the Social and Environmental Research Institute to provide a collaborative opportunity for local stakeholders in Beaufort County to learn from each other about the potential impacts of sea level rise and identify local strategies and actions to directly or indirectly reduce their vulnerability to these impacts. Using VCAPS, the project team recruited and facilitated discussion among a group of 19 local decision makers, who identified and prioritized an initial list of adaptation actions. The team then hosted two public workshops, attended by 77 people, to vet and contribute to this action list, narrowing it to 23 adaptation strategies. The final report was tailored to the needs of County officials and details local vulnerability to rising seas, the community input process, and the adaptation actions identified through this process. This final report has been handed over to the Beaufort County Planning Department for consideration and possible incorporation into their Comprehensive Plan. Find more information on the project webpage.

Climate Change Impacts on Water Infrastructure

This project addressed the potential vulnerability of municipal water and wastewater infrastructure to coastal hazards. Study sites were located in the North Carolina communities of Manteo, New Bern, and Plymouth. The team produced a series of detailed maps that include infrastructure location as well as the potential sea level rise, storm surge, and riverine flooding risks to those sites for the three communities. Risks to water lines and pump stations were included in the analysis based on advice from community planners. Participating communities were recipients of an aggregated benefit because this project allows multiple jurisdictions to be seamlessly assessed and a range of vulnerabilities visualized and compared; a benefit which would not be realized through individual community assessments.

Project presentation

Climate Change Impacts on Congaree National Park

CISA researchers have contributed to a project to assess the potential effects of increasing temperatures (leading to increased evapotranspiration) and changing precipitation patterns on the ecosystems of Congaree National Park. Changing upstream flow patterns have the potential to affect these flood-dependent ecosystems through alterations in the timing, extent, and level of flooding. CISA team members developed watershed models to simulate streamflow under different climate change scenarios. This information served as inputs to a flood inundation model which is being used to assess the effects of altered flooding regimes on the quality and extent of habitats for key species in the park.

Drought Monitoring and Assessment

CISA developed the Dynamic Drought Index Tool (DDIT) to meet regional needs for increased spatial resolution of drought maps and access to information about historical climate variability. The DDIT is a web-based monitoring and mapping tool that allows users to calculate and display drought indices at the spatial and temporal scales most relevant to their decision making. The tools consists of: a numerical model that calculates percentiles for each drought index and performs spatial interpolation and averaging; a database that stores the results from the numerical model; and a graphical user interface that provides user options for selecting drought indices, blending percentages, classification methods, and resultant maps, graphs, and tables. As part of this project, additional research was conducted to address various shortcomings regarding drought index estimation, such as missing daily precipitation data, handling short-term records, and obtaining drought information for unsampled locations.

Research findings

Support for the Third National Climate Assessment

CISA conducted an array of studies in support of the Third National Climate Assessment, released in May 2014. Our efforts focused on identifying key climate sensitive decisions, improving our understanding of related climate information needs, and assessing the multiple dimensions of adaptive capacity in the region.

Collaboration with key climate service providers. Southeast RISAs (CISA, SECC), the Southeast Regional Climate Center, and state climatologists throughout the region partnered to document and evaluate climate information requests to better understand who submitted requests for what types of information. The broad range of engaged clients and the detail of their information needs is suggestive of larger, more diverse groups of advanced climate information users than are typically acknowledged by the climate adaptation community.

Research findings

Engaging climate-sensitive sectors in the Carolinas. This research centered on understanding climate information needs, climate adaptation activities, and the networks that facilitate information sharing in five key sectors in the Carolinas – forestry, recreation and tourism, urban sustainability initiatives, wildlife and habitat conservation planning, and water-wastewater systems . Through document analysis and coupled questionnaire-interviews with key decision makers and opinion leaders, researchers documented significant information regarding existing capacity to respond and adaptive to climate change in the Carolinas.

Research findings

Climate adaptation in the Southeast. In collaboration with the two other Southeast RISAs (SCIPP, SECC), CISA helped to produce a technical report for use in developing the Southeast regional chapter for the third NCA. CISA PIs led efforts on the climate chapter, developing the regional climatology and information on observed trends, and the adaptation chapter, assessing the complexity of climate adaptation efforts in the region.

Research findings