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Kathie Dello

Director

Research Building III 130

Grants

Date: 03/01/23 - 2/28/28
Amount: $700,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

The frequency and intensity of both floods and droughts are expected to increase in response to climate change; however, significant uncertainties remain regarding regional changes, especially for extreme rainfall. In particular, North Carolina’s geographic position makes it vulnerable to several natural hazards that pose significant flooding risks, including hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, and large winter storms. The most obvious problems within NC in recent years are the pluvial and fluvial flooding from notable hurricanes which paralyzed the NC infrastructure for weeks and caused extensive damage to homes and personal property. The heavy rainfall associated with Hurricanes Floyd (1999), Matthew (2016), Florence (2018), Dorian (2019), and Tropical Storm Fred (2021) generated record-breaking fluvial flooding along key economic corridors and in local communities. Though hurricanes receive a lot of attention in resilient design, as they should, transportation engineers, resilience professionals, community planners, and other local officials face additional challenges, including possible changes to rainfall intensity from localized thunderstorms and other ‘no-name’ events. Increasing evidence suggests that precipitation intensity and frequency is changing across the Carolinas (SCO); however, what is poorly understood is how the distribution of rainfall (particularly sub-daily) is changing and what the distribution of this rainfall is now and in the future. Understanding sub-daily rainfall distributions is particularly important for developing design storms to assess the resilience of existing infrastructure to current and future events and for flood hazard mapping, used to establish future land use plans and building standards (e.g., freeboard). In addition, in a changing climate, flooding is expected to increase in some locations and decrease in others. As such, it is particularly important to understand where future rainfall patterns may drive future flooding to plan for a rapidly changing future. The objectives of this study are to 1) update statewide intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves to account for climate change projections to quantify future risk for the entire state of North Carolina 2) prepare statewide projections of future precipitation extremes using the newest downscaled climate model data (e.g., CMIP6) 3) evaluate the efficacy of existing IDF curve tools and potential applications in North Carolina 4) identify hotspots of future flood risk based on precipitation estimates, particularly in areas outside of mapped FEMA floodplains 5) create an end-user driven system in consultation with key stakeholders for analyzing, displaying, disseminating, and storing the data.

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/25
Amount: $172,810.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

The well-known coquí frogs, represented by 17 species in the genus Eleutherodactylus in Puerto Rico, are threatened by extreme heat and drying, and coastal saltwater intrusion. Recent investigations have helped to determine how global climate change is likely to affect the local climate of the US Caribbean, and how sensitive different coquí species are to local climate and habitat conditions. We propose to advance effective and efficient adaptation to climate change and recovery in the US Caribbean by addressing two objectives: 1) measuring key micro-climate variables along multiple habitat and climate gradients, allowing for identification of resilient climate habitats for at-risk and endangered amphibian species; and 2) expanding prior work to distinguish between the interactive effects of moisture and temperature on Eleutherodactylus occurrence and abundance. The expected results from this study include an island-wide evaluation of potential climate refugia sites for temperature and moisture sensitive Eleutherodactylus species, and criteria for decision makers to determine when and where they should engage in in-situ management or managed translocations.

Date: 06/01/20 - 6/30/25
Amount: $664,891.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

The frequency and intensity of both floods and droughts are expected to increase in response to climate change; however, significant uncertainties remain regarding regional changes, especially for extreme rainfall. In particular, North Carolina’s geographic position makes it vulnerable to several natural hazards that pose significant flooding risks, including hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, and large winter storms. The most obvious problems within NC in recent years are the pluvial and fluvial flooding from notable hurricanes which paralyzed the eastern NC highway system for days to weeks. The heavy rainfall associated with Hurricanes Floyd (1999), Matthew (2016), Florence (2018), and Dorian (2019) generated record-breaking fluvial flooding along key economic corridors including I-95, I-40, US-70, NC-12, and US-64, and created a chain of transportation infrastructure problems that affected emergency response operations and the transportation of goods. In particular, I-95 facilitates 40 percent of the Nation’s GDP while US-70 and I-40 are key routes for supporting the military, agriculture and the economy in eastern NC. Though hurricanes receive a lot of attention in resilient design, as they should, transportation engineers face additional challenges, including possible changes to rainfall intensity from localized thunderstorms and even drought. NC officials, recognizing the risks posed by a changing climate, developed Executive Order 80 (EO80) to help protect the people, natural environment, and economy of North Carolina. NC DOT is likewise working to implement solutions to become more resilient to weather extremes in a changing climate. This objective of this study is to improve confidence in climate change projections by quantifying future precipitation extremes within NC for resilient design (e.g., precipitation intensity, duration, frequency curves). This project will incorporate guidance developed for the National Cooperative Highway Transportation Research Board, NCHRP 15-61, with additional methods and numerical model experiments to improve confidence in future precipitation extremes, and to inform design concepts for potential future events.

Date: 04/01/22 - 3/31/25
Amount: $86,797.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Commerce (DOC)

Using WBGT, the proposed project will not only incorporate surface temperature and humidity, but other factors such as solar radiation and wind that are crucial to heat stress impacts and related vulnerability. Our results will help advance NWS and their ability to engage with the public by identifying areas of vulnerability useful for successful prediction and preparation of extreme heat events.

Date: 11/16/20 - 11/15/23
Amount: $144,848.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Transportation

Under their water quality permitting, NCDOT is required to monitor stormwater controls along their projects. Traditionally, this has been handled by taking daily rainfall measurements at each project site. However, collection of this data and monitoring requires substantial manual labor. The State Climate Office of North Carolina at NC State University (SCO) has developed an automated tool for NCDOT that provides rainfall monitoring and alert services using precipitation estimates derived from weather radar combined with available surface rain gauges. This heavy rainfall monitoring and alert tool has been estimated to save in excess of 113,000 work hours each year since 2005. This effort by NCDOT and SCO has received several state and national awards. This proposal will continue maintenance of the current NCDOT Precipitation Alert tool, will modernize and stabilize the IT infrastructure supporting the tool, and will upgrade the user registration and approval system.

Date: 11/01/19 - 10/31/23
Amount: $74,089.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

The State Climate Office of North Carolina (SCONC) and the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) have shared a mission to serve the citizens of North Carolina through monitoring and providing access to high-quality data and information via web-based tools and educational outreach. This collaboration will address the web hosting needs of DAQ and enable the two organizations to jointly develop web-based tools and educational content about weather, climate, and air quality as part of an Air Quality Portal.

Date: 04/07/20 - 10/06/23
Amount: $328,083.00
Funding Agencies: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

North Carolina State University shall provide support to Synoptic Data Corp (Synoptic) in the continuation of the National Mesonet Program. The National Weather Service (NWS) desires to continue delivery of the National Mesonet Program capability that meets the needs of a broad and diverse set of constituents across the weather enterprise. This capability will enable NWS to improve forecasts and warnings for severe weather, enhance numerical weather prediction capabilities, and achieve effective collaboration among disparate network operators to promote NOAA’s objective of a Weather-Ready Nation.

Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/23
Amount: $43,555.00
Funding Agencies: BHP Foundation

The State Climate Office will work with the Internet of Water, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and other stakeholders to develop a Water Utilities Dashboard. The Dashboard will incorporate climate data and other water utility data. The SCO will perform eye tracking analysis with stakeholders to gather feedback about dashboard efficacy.

Date: 10/01/19 - 9/30/23
Amount: $386,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) must evaluate the status of at-risk plants and animals in the US. A Species Status Assessment (SSA) is a scientific assessment prepared for each at-risk species to help inform a range of management decisions under the ESA. SSA’s are currently needed for more than 350 species, including 250 in the Southeast alone. These species are affected by several factors including urbanization, loss of habitat, changes in streamflow and water quality, climate variability, and climate change. In partnership with scientists from the USFWS and US Geological Survey, this project will develop and test data products that will assist USFWS biologists to incorporate climate information into SSA’s, including how the climate factors and thresholds that most affect species vary year-to-year, how they are expected to change in the future, and the uncertainties associated with those changes. This project will develop and test the efficacy of using a web-based collection of maps and data layers for interpreting climate vulnerability of wildlife and their habitats. Each map product will focus on the most relevant climate and ecology metrics that predict species viability for a location, and include explanatory and interpretive materials. Regular input from USFWS scientists will ensure the information is accessible, useful, and usable. The efficacy will be tested by implementing eye-tracking evaluations, surveys, and feedback sessions and iteratively applying these findings to the design and development of the tool. This web-based framework will help USFWS scientists in the Southeast US obtain, understand, and apply the climate information they need, thus enhancing the accuracy, quality, and scientific rigor of SSA’s. This project will produce a web-based collection of regional maps of past and current climate conditions relevant to species’ biology and principal habitat, and a range of possible future outcomes from climate models. Technical documents and scientific manuscripts will be produced that communicate the results of user testing and information learned on how to design maps and environmental data visualization to better support SSA’s.

Date: 09/01/21 - 8/31/23
Amount: $1,889,999.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Commerce (DOC)

Recent extreme weather and climate events in our region (e.g., 2016 Wildfires, Hurricanes Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), Florence (2018), and Dorian (2019)) signal a significant change from the past, causing unprecedented damage across the Carolinas. The Carolinas are getting wetter, hotter, and more humid in a changing climate. Climate change has and will continue to impact the health and well-being of every community, but not all communities are affected equally . The experiences of minority and underserved communities at the start of the climate crisis will be reproduced in other parts of society as climate change impacts become more pronounced and widespread. These communities are the canaries in the coal mines for the rest of society. The proposed RISA team will build upon years of regional work on climate science, tools and assessments to move into a new phase that centers Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) principles at the forefront of NOAA-funded climate research, and to deliver climate futures to more communities than have been previously served. We will apply a bottom-up participatory action approach to develop a transferrable model for end-to-end co-production of actionable and equitable climate resilience solutions in at-risk communities in the Carolinas. Our aims include: Aim 0. Demonstrate our commitment to addressing the climate reality in a just and equitable way, while ensuring the inclusivity and diversity of all voices are represented in every aspect of our work in the Carolinas; Aim 1. Build and enhance local partnerships in underserved communities across the Carolinas to identify, test, and refine equitable solutions for climate resilience; Aim 2. Understand and predict how co-occurring and consecutive hazards interact with exposure and vulnerability to shape climate risk; Aim 3. Identify and connect the complex linkages between structures of power, intersecting social positions, and climate-health inequities in vulnerable communities; and Aim 4. Design and implement community-sciences programs to track physical and social science metrics and build community-level climate resiliency literacy. Our proposed work addresses the goals of the RISA program by combining regional relevance and local expertise in the Carolinas. Our innovative, integrated physical and social science research will be tailored to the needs and priorities of the participating communities. The solutions we co-produce with minority, low-income communities will be designed to tackle both the societal drivers of risk and the changing climate hazard landscape through knowledge to action networks. The long term goal to devise a national model for addressing the roots of climate inequity through place-based research and education will serve the broader national network of adaptation practitioners.


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