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Helping Coastal ­Communities Prepare for Climate Change

Sep 13, 2012 | News

How can coastal communities of South Carolina adapt to climate change, especially when projected levels of change in temperature, precipitation, and sea level in the region are so broad? The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium has received three grants totaling over $190,000 that will help coastal communities answer that question over the next two years.

For a grant competitively awarded by the National Sea Grant Office’s Community Climate Change Adaptation Initiative program, Jessica Whitehead, regional climate extension specialist, will lead partners from the Beaufort County Planning Depart­ment, the Social and Environmental Research Institute (SERI), and North Carolina Sea Grant to help Beaufort County prepare for a range of potential climate conditions.  April Turner, coastal community specialist, will assist Whitehead with conducting background interviews and organizing public workshops and focus group meetings.

The partners will develop a plan to ensure that the county’s zoning—including new form-based codes—and subsequent development will be more resilient to sea-level rise, more variable rainfall, and temperature extremes.

SERI will lead another grant from the National Oceanic and Atmos­pheric Administration’s Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications program to investigate the risks a changing climate may pose to working waterfronts in Beaufort County.

In addition, with a grant from the National Sea Grant Office, S.C. Sea Grant extension staff will synthesize the results of the working-waterfronts investigation into workshops that include the role of climate variability and change among other threats to thriving working waterfronts.

To assist with these projects, the Consortium is hiring two College of Charleston graduate students who will work on implementing the grants.