Antioch University New England Launches Climate Resilience Project as Part of White House Initiative

AUNE project to lead testing effort for new U.S. “Climate Resilience Toolkit” and climate data

Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience has launched a project designed to evaluate federal data and resources to help communities become more resilient in the face of climate change. As AUNE”s second commitment in support of President Barack Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, the Center is convening planners, and decision makers from coastal communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions to “road test” version 1.0 of the new U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and share the findings with federal agencies to inform subsequent versions of the toolkit.

“The Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT) is a compilation of online data analysis tools, modeling software and a range of sophisticated government data on water, ecosystems, and geospatial tools to support decision-makers at the local level make informed choices about climate resilience efforts,” said Abigail Abrash Walton, co-director of the Antioch University Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience. “Our CRT road test initiative is orienting decision-makers and planners at the municipal, county, and regional levels to this new web-based platform and evaluating aspects of its usability as a decision-support tool for building resilience in the context of climate change.”

AUNE has convened participants from Norfolk, Virginia to Rockland, Maine to kick off the testing effort.  These local partners include NJ Future, the Island Institute, the cities of Baltimore, Cambridge, Gloucester, and Yonkers, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, CT Sea Grant, and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. The launch session featured an orientation by chief toolkit architect David Herring, director of communications and education for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program. Next steps for participants include identifying an actual climate resilience challenge and using the toolkit to address it.

“The toolkit provides access to an enormous amount of data. We have designed this project to facilitate participants’ interpretation and use of the data through practice-based, applied research questions while facilitating networking and peer-to-peer learning opportunities within our region and beyond,” Abrash Walton said.

The toolkit is divided into four main areas: coastal flood risk; ecosystem vulnerability; food resilience; and human health. In addition to helping communities be better prepared for climate-related events such as storm water flooding, disease response or access to food, planners hope the collaboration among entrepreneurial businesses, schools and organizations sparks innovative approaches.

“Antioch University New England’s initiative is an exciting project because it has the potential to help community-based decision-makers connect with the support tools they need in order to prepare for changes in coastal storm surge, growing seasons for crops, drainage patterns for floods, and other climate change-related impacts.” said Marilyn Castriotta, AUNE Center project manager. “Partnering with AUNE and its community resilience professionals is a great way to distribute the information and collect feedback from those who can use it to improve their communities’ ability to withstand and recover from climate change-related events.”

To learn more about this initiative, please contact Project Manager Marilyn Castriotta at [email protected].



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