S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

Weather and Climate Resilience Background

The South Carolina coast is vulnerable to most known natural hazards, including hurricanes and coastal storms, flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, fires, drought, heat waves, shoreline change, and earthquakes, each of which has the potential to cause loss of life and/or substantial damage to the residential, economic, and natural fabric of the state’s coastal landscape. Many of these hazards are also becoming exacerbated due to changes in our weather and climate; most notably, the impacts of sea level rise and chronic flooding along our low-lying coastline. These impacts include increased vulnerability to coastal storms, more frequent and severe flooding, accelerated erosion of ocean and waterfront areas, saltwater intrusion of surface and groundwater supplies and habitat alteration. While these impacts are already evident, many opportunities exist to plan and prepare for, minimize, and mitigate exposure to damages and facilitate recovery processes.

Planning for coastal hazards ranges from the short-term impacts to long-term pervasive issues, requiring attention to both the natural environment and human infrastructure. Enhancing resilience by communities must include assessing risk and understanding vulnerability as well as developing and implementing response and adaptation strategies. With the explosion of population growth along the South Carolina coast, and the allure of coastal communities to tourism, many residents and visitors alike are unfamiliar with the hazards posed by this unique environment, adding an additional challenge to a community’s resilience.

The focus of this program area is to provide science-based information through research, outreach, and educational programs which documents our changing coastal weather and climate and the possible risks and effects on the natural environment, physical infrastructure, society, and people. This includes episodic hazards as well as impacts from long-term climate change. The Consortium will also work with the public and private sectors to assess vulnerability to the diverse hazards along the coast and develop appropriate methods for response, recovery, and adaptation, with a goal of enhancing coastal resilience in South Carolina and the region.