Moving Forward: Learning, Planning, Networking and Adapting to Climate Change in the Carolinas

By Alex Score

During the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference last week, it was evident that climate change is already impacting the region. Approximately 200 scientists, academics, local government planners, state officials, business representatives, and non-profit organizations came together to discuss ways to make the region more resilient. The conference was organized by the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) with the goal of providing a platform to share experiences and knowledge of opportunities, tools, resources, local initiatives, and expertise.

The Carolinas are extremely vulnerable to rising seas, increased temperatures, and decreased water availability. The regional report, Climate of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts, and Vulnerability – part of the just released Third National Climate Assessment, estimates that the region will see temperature increases, increasing sea levels between 1-4 feet by 2100, and declining regional water availability and quality, largely due to increasing population growth and land-use changes.

The conference highlighted local actions and solutions, moving away from political debates on the causes and/or existence of climate change. Examples on ways the region is starting to prepare for change and becoming more resilient include:

  • Incorporating sea level rise preparedness into comprehensive plans
  • Working with communities to help them assess and identify risk, hazards, and vulnerability to climate change
  • Integrating climate change into sustainability planning
  • Managing runoff with low impact development and stormwater controls
  • Merging public space with green infrastructure
  • Developing climate-resilient crops
  • Adapting to drought through water conservation technology
  • Promoting public participation in state fisheries management
  • Building resilient communities through public engagement