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Kathie Dello


Research Building III 130


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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: 09/01/21 - 8/31/26
Amount: $3,039,999.00
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.

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/25
Amount: $601,075.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of the Interior (DOI)

The well-known coqu?? 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 coqu?? 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: 06/26/23 - 5/31/25
Amount: $126,637.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Since 2011, the North Carolina State Climate Office (NCSCO) has developed and maintained the Fire Weather Intelligence Portal, a real-time monitoring tool for foresters and fire managers. The Portal was originally built to meet the need of NC Forest Service to have a single resource containing many datasets used in planning prescribed burns and responding to wildfire events, including station-based weather observations and fire danger estimates. Since its initial launch, the Portal has been continually updated to include new datasets as they have come online, including radar-estimated precipitation totals and drought indices; high-resolution model forecasts for key smoke and fire variables such as the Atmospheric Dispersion Index; and 7-day fire danger forecasts from the National Weather Service. In 2017, the Portal was also expanded to cover the 13-state USFS Southern Region thanks to support from the USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub. The Southern Fire Exchange has also aided in the Portal???s region-wide rollout, including in a December 2020 webinar explaining its utility in informing prescribed burners before, during, and after a burn. The Portal remains in widespread use across the region. Between April 2021 and March 2022, it received 62,782 page views from 6,831 unique users representing state and federal forestry agencies, other land management organizations, and private landowners. During this time, the Portal also implemented the new National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRSv4) as part of the national transition to this new fire risk dataset. Even 11 years after its initial development, the Portal remains unique in the variety of datasets it offers and its detailed local information. By comparison, the NWS Enhanced Data Display offers ways to access National Weather Service products but lacks the local fire danger estimates that are used by most state forestry agencies in assessing conditions and setting readiness levels. The Southern Area Coordination Center is a useful provider of regional information and outlooks, but even it links to the Fire Weather Portal as the southern area-wide fire danger and weather data resource. As of May 2022, the FWIP serves up weather observations from 954 stations across the USFS Southern Region (excluding North Carolina, which is covered by a separate maintenance agreement with NC Forest Service) and fire danger estimates for 323 of those stations. NCSCO will continue to ensure that current observations and fire danger estimates and 7-day forecasts from these stations remain available in the FWIP to meet the monitoring and planning needs of users across the region. Additional datasets, including gridded model forecasts and NWS zone-based Fire Weather Forecast products, also cover the full 13-state region, so NCSCO will continue to maintain them as long as they remain available from their original providers. Through engagement with foresters in states across the region, we will also solicit suggestions for other useful datasets or FWIP features, and may pursue adding other state mesonet stations that are already configured and established using NFDRSv4 in the national WIMS database. The need has arisen for better projections of future fire danger in the 21st century. NCSCO proposes an analysis of key fire danger and drought indicators (including Energy Release Component, 100-hour fuel moisture, and percent area burned) using CMIP5 (available on the Climate Toolbox) and CMIP6 to identify local and seasonal trends and changes in the Southern Region.

Date: 04/01/22 - 3/31/25
Amount: $335,051.00
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: 11/01/19 - 10/31/24
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: 10/01/21 - 9/30/24
Amount: $61,517.00
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: 10/01/20 - 6/30/24
Amount: $130,438.00
Funding Agencies: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Climate change analysis and training After having participated in the development of North Carolina??????????????????s first Climate Science Report and Climate Change Risk and Resiliency report, the State Climate Office will help translate the climate science surrounding future fire weather and wildfire conditions for NC Forest Service through a set of research studies and educational initiatives. These include: ??????????????? An analysis of fire danger indices or expected days per year suitable for prescribed burning. Using current climate model projections, we will generate maps and statistics showing expected future burning conditions. In Year 1, we will identify and retrieve the needed model data and prescribed burning thresholds at a statewide or NCFS district level. In Year 2, we will calculate key indices and the average number of days per year meeting those identified thresholds. ??????????????? Developing educational resources for NCFS about climate change, including explanations of the results of our analysis, educational modules/webinars (TBD in consultation with NCFS) Analysis of organic soil moisture data The organic soil moisture monitoring stations deployed by the State Climate Office have been collecting multi-depth observations since 2018. With a high-quality dataset available over this time period, we will conduct an analysis with the goal of identifying trends in organic soil moisture based on depth or other factors, and proxy measures for organic soil moisture and fire/smoldering risk. In Year 1, we will identify datasets to use in our comparison analyses, including NASA??????????????????s satellite-based SMAP product and groundwater well data from the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge. In Year 2, we will conduct an analysis of the collected data to identify the best-correlated parameters with organic soil moisture and create an initial set of guidelines or recommendations that fire practitioners and land managers can use for estimating or assessing organic soil moisture and fire risk. Producing short-range outlooks Continuing the drought communications work that the State Climate Office started in Project Nighthawk, we will produce monthly short-range outlook resources geared toward forestry and fire management. Based on forecast guidance from the National Weather Service, these products will present anticipated weather conditions over the 1- to 4-week period covered by each outlook, noting any potential sectoral impacts such as drought development, high winds or low humidity, and precipitation frequency. Outlooks will be generated once per month during the two-year project period and will be shared via an email listserv and on the State Climate Office??????????????????s fire weather website.

Date: 07/01/23 - 5/30/24
Amount: $16,541.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

The NCSCO, along with partners, will be convening a heat protocol workshop. This workshop will help local and county governments create heat strategies for use in their communities.

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