Climate Resilience


Rhode Island Sea Grant Extension/URI Coastal Resources Center works to help communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and increased flooding.

The program assists state and local governments and coastal community members in creating policies that help them manage their resources comprehensively and develop vibrant waterfronts.


The challenge for Aquidneck Island is remaining self-sufficient should access to the mainland be curtailed. The Aquidneck Island Resilience Strategy is a five-year plan created in collaboration with municipal and regional leaders, scientists, and community members to prepare for coastal flooding and storm damage, all of which will be exacerbating by a changing climate.

Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, and Naval Station Newport are all highly vulnerable island communities that are working to strengthen their individual and collective abilities to be more resilient.

The four key areas addressed in the strategy include Emergency Response and Preparedness, Transportation, Island Economy, and Residential Flooding as a way to prioritize the most pressing issues and concerns, and implement resiliency actions in these communities.

This publication is by Rhode Island Sea Grant, located at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, and University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center in collaboration with the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, with support from thePrince Charitable Trusts, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

Contact: Pam Rubinoff, extension specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant and URI Coastal Resources Center

This state-funded project supports developing and providing coastal resiliency training to municipal staff, volunteer board members, and decision makers increasingly tasked with implementing coastal resiliency policies and practices that can better protect communities from flooding and erosion associated with storms and sea level rise.

The program provides in-person training as well as webinar-based education and access to online support tools, such as the interactive STORMTOOLS mapping application.

Contact: Pam Rubinoff and Teresa Crean, extension specialists for Rhode Island Sea Grant and URI Coastal Resources Center

More frequent intense storms and increasing sea levels require proactive planning and action for our communities to become more resilient. The Rapid Property Assessment and Coastal Exposure (Rapid PACE) mapping tool helps municipal officials and property owners view areas exposed to storms, erosion, and sea level rise; evacuation zones, salt marsh migration areas and areas of coastal and wetland jurisdiction are also mapped.

Municipal officials can request a free screening for a property. Rapid PACE for the general public hosts an interactive map, an easy-to-use tool for identifying coastal flooding risk and possible impacts on your property and your community. The Rapid PACE uses existing, publicly available sources of data that can be summarized for your property.

For more information, visit:

Contact: Pam Rubinoff, extension specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant and URI Coastal Resources Center

The Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Project (RI GRIP) is helping three Rhode Island coastal municipalities – Newport, North Kingstown, and Warwick – to design plans featuring green infrastructure tools and techniques for reducing the impacts of flooding and erosion, storms and sea level rise.

Green infrastructure refers to the use of plants, rocks, sand and other natural landscaping to absorb and redirect water. It is increasingly being explored and implemented for its potential to provide cost-effective community protection.

The project is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Contact: Pam Rubinoff, extension specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant and the URI Coastal Resources Center

East Matunuck Beach | Photo Meredith Haas

Rhode Island is learning more about how flooding and erosion are shaping the coast through the Beach SAMP. The project is collecting new data about the shoreline and helping coastal communities use it in their planning to protect people and property from harm and adapt to change over time.

The Beach SAMP is an effort of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), and is facilitated by the URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

Contact: Teresa Crean, extension specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant and the URI Coastal Resources Center


Rhode Island Sea Grant helped shape and implement one of the first national conversations on the risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities, using Newport as a case study, that helped launch a national annual event concerning historic preservation in vulnerable coastal communities.

The city of Newport is home to some of the oldest buildings in the country, many of which are threatened by rising sea levels and coastal flooding. Of the approximately 2,500 identified threatened historic structures statewide, almost 40 percent are located in Newport, prompting a need for community-based solutions concerning historic preservation.

Rhode Island Sea Grant extension staff provided expertise and assistance to the Newport Restoration Foundation to organize a four-day conference, Keeping History Above Water.

Keeping History Above Water presented one of the first national conversations on the risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities and their built environments. As a result, it has expanded as an annual conference hosted in vulnerable regions across the country to continue the documentation and distribution of best practices, promote dialogue, and engage new audiences. Annapolis, Maryland will be hosting the second edition in the Fall of 2017.

University of Rhode Island Ocean Engineering undergraduates modeled storm and sea level rise damage to the Matunuck Beach area of Rhode Island, and submitted findings for peer review. Their article was published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.

Rhode Island Sea Grant supported students to conduct a coastal engineering design studio focused on assessment of storm and sea level rise for Matunuk Beach Road in South Kingstown, RI. The resulting paper presents an evaluation of inundation, erosion, and wave damage by a 100-year storm with and without 7 feet of sea level rise (A previous estimate by NOAA on global sea level rise by 2100) for this highly vulnerable coastal community that has one of the highest erosion rates in the state.