The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) and partners have been awarded a grant of $513,507 by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management (OCM) as part of the FY 2016 Regional Coastal Resilience Grants. The grant is part of $4.5 million awarded by NOAA to help coastal communities improve their resilience to adverse events by aiding their ability to prepare for and respond to a variety of coastal threats, including extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions.
While the ocean is a fundamental source of economic and ecological value in the Mid-Atlantic, few coastal communities are aware of the critical role it plays in community resilience or how changing ocean conditions may impact the economy, society and the environment. Through this grant, MARCO and its partners seek to enhance public understanding of the science behind changing ocean conditions and what this means in terms of ocean resources and coastal economies.  The project will:
(1) Characterize changing ocean conditions affecting resilience of coastal communities, land and ocean use;
(2) Link these changes to coastal and ocean economies; and
(3) Develop and expand outreach and communication regarding the role of the coastal ocean in community, state and regional resilience strategies, and risks posed by a changing climate.
MARCO will be working with partners at Monmouth University and MARACOOS (via University of Delaware and Rutgers) on this project that is anticipated to run June 1, 2016 – May 31, 2018. This effort joins a growing portfolio of adaptation and coastal resilience efforts underway in the Mid-Atlantic region with a focus on the creation of a Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Acidification Network, an economic analysis and a variety of outreach products.
By leveraging networks such as MARCO’s state agency contacts, federal partners, and relationships with stakeholders developed through the Mid-Atlantic regional ocean planning process and using the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal as the central conduit for information-sharing, MARCO is well-positioned to maintain ongoing public engagement throughout all project phases.
The 2016 Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Awards are designed to help coastal communities prepare for and recover from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. The focus is on comprehensive regional approaches that use science-based solutions and rely on collaborative partnerships to ensure success while expanding reach and impact. MARCO and partners were among twelve projects, covering 200 coastal communities and 19 states, that were selected for funding.
MARCO’s Ongoing Climate Efforts
A Climate Change Adaptation Team (CCAT) composed of representatives from each of MARCO’s member states and supported by NOAA guides MARCO’s climate change work.   The CCAT met recently at the Hudson River Foundation offices in New York City to reflect upon and evaluate CCAT priorities and consider activities over the next two years. The group also sought to identify a range of strategies that can be pursued by CCAT, ensure continued progress on current projects and share climate change adaptation information across states.
Working with a number of partners, MARCO is currently pursuing two projects related to distributing coastal resilience information developed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.   Using funding from NOAA and in partnership with Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, MARCO developed a report to advance preparedness of climate change impacts on coastal communities in the Mid-Atlantic.
Two additional projects are underway with funding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC).  Working with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), MARCO is developing a regional approach to help identify regional wetland restoration priorities, including priorities for other wetland-related natural and nature-based features (NNBFs) for federal and state programs to achieve risk reduction and associated climate resilience outcomes.  In collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), MARCO is facilitating the improved use, understanding, and implementation of NNBF in the Mid-Atlantic.
Storm_ExampleFinally, MARCO is supporting an effort to develop a Coastal Storm Severity Index (CSSI) for the Atlantic Coast of the United States. The CSSI will be a new way of conveying the potential impacts of forecasted coastal storms (both mid-latitude and tropical systems) to decision makers and the general public. Specifically, this project focuses on developing a prototype index for use along the Mid-Atlantic coast. The research is being conducted as a joint project between the Department of Geography at the University of Delaware, the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JC NERR), the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR), and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), who is funding the initial research effort.
storm frequencyDuring its first year the research team compiled a comprehensive review of storm severity categorization literature, analyzed several coastal storm case studies and gathered relevant GIS data to assist in the development of a prototype Coastal Storm Severity Index. In April 2015, a MARCO funded workshop was held in Delaware to engage potential users of the index and consider their ideas for future index development. This workshop provided the basis for several goals for the second year of the project. These include the addition of new data types, quantitative algorithms for storm severity assessment, as well as the incorporation of winter weather variables (snow, frozen precipitation) into the index formulation. Consultation is ongoing with social scientists on the most effective ways to disseminate information to the end-user. Another workshop is planned for New Jersey in 2016 to continue to gather ideas and assess needs of the end users before final formulation of the index.water levels

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