Climate Resilience

Related Projects  |  Climate Publications  |  Community Snapshots

Jennifer McCann
(401) 874-6127
Pam Rubinoff
(401) 874-6135




Based on well-established evidence, the scientific community is in consensus that the climate is indeed changing. Climate change is affecting temperatures, the length and timing of seasons, the amount of rain and snow that falls annually, sea level, and ocean chemistry. More people are moving to coastal areas — currently 52 percent of the nation’s population lives in coastal watersheds — which means more people will be a risk to coastal hazards.

To accommodate more people and balance greater demands on coastal resources, while preparing for the effects of climate change, particularly sea level rise and increased erosion, Rhode Island Sea Grant Extension works with communities to help them become more climate resilient.

The program assists state and local governments and coastal community members in creating policies that help them manage their resources comprehensively, addressing climate change and coastal hazards, and developing vibrant waterfronts.

The video below was produced by the Coastal Institute through the University of Rhode Island Climate Change Collaborative that launched Rhode Island’s first climate change website, Rhode Island’s Climate Challenge: Waves of Change.

Partners of the Climate Change Collaborative: Rhode Island Sea Grant, URI Coastal Institute, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Coastal Resources Center, URI Cancer Prevention Research Center, and the URI Harrington School of Communication and Media



Rethinking Coastal Living

beachsampTo address challenges from a changing shoreline, the R.I. Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP) is focused on improving our understanding of how fast erosion is occurring and what areas and infrastructure are at risk of flooding during storms or from future sea level rise. This plan will improve state policies to better address the impacts of shoreline change.


Community Land Trusts Key to Preservation

Pages from climate_SKLT_FINAL_APPENDICES_3-10_smallIt is important for local conservation organizations, such as land trusts and watershed associations, to consider the reality of a changing climate. Using South Kingstown Land Trust as a pilot, tools have been identified for use by local conservation organizations in Rhode Island and beyond to assess vulnerability and identify strategies to begin to implement adaptation actions through conservation, management, and investment.


Assessing Vulnerability

NK_maps-1Rhode Island Sea Grant worked with North Kingstown to develop maps, assess vulnerability, and identify recommendations based on lessons learned from other places for the community to adapt to rising seas.

Utilizing tools developed in this pilot application in North Kingstown, the maps, process, and strategies can be utilized by other municipalities, who will be required to incorporate climate change issues within their future comprehensive plans.


Protecting Cultural Heritage

Newport_waterfrontRhode Island Sea Grant is working with Newport’s waterfront businesses to understand risks, develop strategies, and identify adaptation actions to improve their resilience so that they can bounce back

This project builds upon the city’s momentum to understand and communicate sea level rise risks and identify innovative solutions.quickly when extreme tides and weather strike. Rhode Island Sea Grant also worked in collaboration with the city and the University of Rhode Island to develop maps that illustrate areas vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme storm events.



Caitlin Chaffee, CRMC, talks about how standing ponds can hurt surrounding marsh vegetation if it can't be drained.

Caitlin Chaffee, CRMC, talks about how standing ponds can hurt surrounding marsh vegetation if it can’t be drained.

Rhode Island Sea Grant is working to preserve wetlands against threats of accelerating sea level rise by helping to develop maps that will identify critical areas for protection and provide a foundation for developing policy.

The SLAMM—Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model—is a tool for decision makers and resources managers to use in planning how to protect and use marshes in the future when flooding and change becomes an issue. This multi-partner effort improves the chances that wetlands can be sustained as valuable habitats. These tools can be integrated with other efforts including the Beach SAMP, conservation strategies, and local comprehensive plans.


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These fact sheets and documents provide an overview of the current science on climate change trends and adaptation measures communities have taken to address challenges associated with sea level rise, erosion, and storm-related hazards,

Precipitation and Storms

Sea Level Rise

Wetland Conservation

North Kingstown Adaptation








South Kingstown: Adaptation Capacity

Climate Change Summary








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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “Coastal Community Snapshots” provides statistics concerning flood exposure, ocean jobs and wetland benefits. Visit the website for more information.

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