The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced a $1 million grant to help communities on the East Coast prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The grant to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will support a project that pairs WHOI research scientists with regional organizations in efforts to address sea-level rise and coastal flooding, coastal water quality and ocean acidification, and ocean climate warming. Together, the organizations will work to develop science-based adaptation solutions and empower community stakeholders with the information they need for planning and infrastructure decisions.
With recent studies suggesting that the coastal waters of the Northeast are more vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification than previously thought, the project initially will focus on Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, and the continental shelf off southern New England. Partner organizations in the effort include the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy.
Scientists from Woods Hole also will work with Princeton University researcher Ning Lin to assess the protective potential of existing coastal wetlands and planned artificial reefs in the bay based on simulations of the most extreme hurricanes to have hit the region. WHOI expects that lessons learned from the initiative will be applicable broadly to coastal communities along the Eastern seaboard.
“While slowing climate change involves global cooperation on limiting further emissions of greenhouse gases, local and regional strategies can minimize climate change impacts,” said Scott Doney, a WHOI marine chemist and lead investigator on the project. “Empowering local stakeholders, whether they are local property owners and municipalities, volunteer citizen scientists, or commercial fishermen, is a promising strategy for raising awareness and engagement on climate issues.”