NOAA Regional Collaboration Network Announces Climate and Equity Pilot Projects

Supporting equitable climate resilience through projects focused on community involvement, equity and environmental justice.

The NOAA Regional Collaboration Network is supporting NOAA’s commitment to sustained engagement with underserved communities through seven pilot projects in the coming years. Each regional pilot will respond directly to feedback received from partners during Climate and Equity roundtable discussions. Pilots will take a unique, place-based approach to helping vulnerable communities better understand, prepare for, and respond to climate change. 

NOAA Central Regional Collaboration Team - Building Knowledge to Support Equitable Climate
Resilience in the Upper Mississippi River Basin 

NOAA will partner with the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, through the University of Minnesota, to focus on two objectives. First, to  better understand the flow patterns of the upper Mississippi River to provide data on how the river will likely respond to changing climate conditions. This data is crucial for communities to plan for both flood and low flow conditions. Second, to develop customized community engagement strategies for vulnerable communities to enhance their climate resilience. Such strategies will focus on collaboratively building long-term, respectful partnership and relationships with underserved communities. Overall, this work is intended to improve the understanding, interpretation, and use of these forecasts and hydrological data products and services to improve preparedness and resilience. For more information, check out this Press Release.

NOAA Alaska Regional Collaboration Team - Establish a position of Director of Tribal climate change initiatives at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) 

This tribally led and co-developed pilot would create a position of Director of Tribal climate change initiatives at ANTHC. This first of its kind position would be specifically responsible for conducting a landscape assessment of Tribal climate change adaptation activities in Alaska, ensure that Tribal related climate change efforts are led and prioritized by Alaska Native people through the creation of an Alaska Tribal Climate Change Advisory Group, and lead the Tribal review and publication of the Unmet Needs of Environmentally Threatened Alaska Native Villages Report: Assessment and Recommendations. From this pilot NOAA and Alaska Native people will have a dedicated mechanism for outreach, engagement on climate change issues that results in trusted relationships, mutual and continual learning, elevated understanding of Alaska Native perspectives and intergenerational knowledge, and the visibility and value of NOAA’s work. NOAA will understand tribal priorities for climate services, including research, data and information, decision support tools, and community capacity needs, and is able to align mission priorities and capabilities with articulated needs in ongoing and sustainable ways.  For more information, check out this Press Release.

NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Collaboration Team - “Keaʻahuli O Panaʻewa - Poly-Forestry and Climate Dashboard” Developing a web-based Dashboard and/or other communications tools (e.g. printed handbooks, planting calendars) for the Native Hawaiian Homestead Community in the Ahupuaa of Keaukaha-Panaewa

The Pacific Islands team pilot will blend traditional knowledge associated with agroforestry and planting with western science. Utilizing NOAA data and climate expertise, NOAA and it’s partners will work with the community through the co-development of knowledge to understand 1) how the climate is affecting the Panaʻewa area and thus the long-term viability of traditionally reliable “canoe-plant” food sources for the community; and 2) how climate variability affects relative abundance of food sources over the short-term. NOAA and its partners will then aggregate and transform the climate data to create a set of decision support products and services called for by the Panaʻewa community.  This may include a catalog of preferred plantings and an almanac providing information on agriculture practices associated with these plantings (e.g. planting, watering, fertilizing, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting) that would vary with the seasonal climate predictions. This information would be provided in the form of a web-based “dashboard”, printed handbooks, planting calendars, or other such communication and education tools that aggregate and tailor information, as deemed by the Panaʻewa community to be of greatest use.  The climate products will help to inform  the Hawaiian Homestead community of Panaʻewa about how climate conditions will change over time (trends and patterns), what is the best assortment of plants that will survive over the long term, and inform when planting, harvesting, extra watering, shading, etc will be necessary as it relates to El Nino and La Nina.  Where appropriate these products would be available in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and English. For more information, check out this Press Release.

NOAA North Atlantic Regional Collaboration Team - Connecticut Community Participation & Risk Communication Pilot

Pilot activities in Bridgeport, New Haven, New London and Norwich, CT are focused on relationship building with community organizations and leaders in these historically marginalized communities. Leveraging Connecticut Sea Grant‘s resilience specialists, this pilot will provide resources to build trusted relationships with bridge organizations and explore innovative ways to engage and support the community from within. Key components of activities in all four communities include practical incentives for participation, such as offering transportation and gift cards, scheduling events at optimal times for working families and using locally owned businesses to provide food and refreshments. Additionally, to ensure members of limited English proficiency communities are able to participate in these events, oral translation and/or written materials may be resourced through the pilot. Successful strategies for funding stakeholder engagement will be shared across pilot partners. NOAA programs will be informed by this pilot to advance hyper-local flood warnings, develop climate products, and tailor digital coast flood and stormwater training and tools to meet communities where they are. For more information, check out this Press Release.


NOAA Southeast & Caribbean and West Regional Collaboration Teams - Building Capacity for Heat Resilience through Community Monitoring, Planning, and Intervention 

This jointly proposed pilot project aims to enhance understanding of local-scale extreme heat impacts and improve heat awareness communication and intervention across agencies and organizations in four municipalities:  Charleston, SC; Miami, FL; Las Vegas, NV; and Phoenix, AZ. The pilot will gather in situ data through citizen science activities by engaging local communities to gather information of on-the-ground heat conditions using sensors. The sensor data will then be used to develop realistic tabletop exercises with federal, state, municipal, and non-governmental partners in each community to evaluate opportunities and limitations to reduce heat risk. The exercises will result in a set of  recommendations for improved communications and interventions to reduce heat risk for vulnerable populations. Priority recommendations will be implemented in the final phase of the pilot project. For more information, check out this Press Release.


NOAA Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team - Building Relationships and Community Resilience with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe of Southeast Louisiana

The pilot will develop NOAA relationships with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT) in Southeast Louisiana. NOAA staff, Louisiana Sea Grant staff, and representatives of the PACIT will meet to start building some of the personal connections that NOAA currently lacks. These conversations will lead to a catalog of environmental conditions that impact the PACIT and what thresholds may trigger information needs, and a broader assessment of priority challenges that the community faces where NOAA resources may be useful. The second phase will address specific high-value resilience challenges for the PACIT where NOAA information, products, or services may enhance their community resilience and ability to adapt to climate-related hazards.  This will leverage an existing project supported by the Environmental Protection Agency that the PACIT is working on with Louisiana Sea Grant to develop a Tribal Coastal Resilience Index, for which customized versions of NOAA visualization tools and/or other data products may assist users with the next steps in enhancing their climate resilience and adaptation efforts. For more information, check out this Press Release.


NOAA Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Team - Climate and Equity Centered Transportation Planning for Southeast Michigan

NOAA is working with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) to address impacts to historically disadvantaged communities from transportation disruptions due to urban flooding. Pilot objectives include creating a replicable, realistic decision support methodology to enhance the integration of equity and climate information within transportation planning; addressing livelihoods and community values alongside transportation-related disruptions due to flooding; and incorporating climate and equity throughout local transportation project identification and prioritization. The pilot is evaluating a methodology for integrating data and knowledge into SEMCOG’s Regional Transportation Plan making it more “equity-centered” and “climate smart.”  Working with data tools developed by SEMCOG, the NOAA team is developing metrics, such as how chronic transportation disruptions due to flooding affect access and drive times to core services, such as hospitals, schools and food stores, located in historically disadvantaged communities in the greater Detroit Metro Region. The team is producing data analytics to enhance equity-centered climate resilience decision making focused on transportation project selection and prioritization. Outputs from the pilot will support SEMCOG’s Regional Transportation Plan  and Transportation Improvement Plan , both to be completed in 2023 and it is hoped that this work will be applied nation-wide. For more information, check out this Press Release.