Oct. 22, 2019


National Academies’ Gulf Research Program Awards $10.7 Million in Grants to Four Gulf Coast Community Resilience Projects

WASHINGTON—The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today announced $10.7 million in grant awards for four new projects focused on enhancing community resilience in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico region.

In recent decades, Gulf Coast communities have dealt with more frequent and severe impacts from climate change, extreme weather, and human-caused disasters. The capacity to recover from these disasters can vary from one community to the next, depending on a range of social, economic, environmental, and other factors. Chronically stressed communities can find the path to recovery particularly difficult.

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the concept of community resilience — defined as the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events — has become a particularly important focus area within the scientific community. Through this increased attention, researchers are developing a growing understanding about the factors that affect a community’s resilience and how a community can enhance its resilience.

“Based on experiences with events such as a major hurricane or the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, many Gulf Coast communities have an increased interest in taking actions to enhance their resilience. However, they don’t always know where to start. Scientists studying resilience have a growing wealth of knowledge that can help if they can get it to the people that need it,” said Chris Rea, associate program officer for the Gulf Research Program. “With this grant competition, we set out to help bridge the gap between the science and practice of resilience.”

Each of the awarded projects aim to advance information exchange and collaboration between researchers and practitioners focused on enhancing community resilience. They all emphasize direct involvement of the community members the projects are meant to benefit. In addition, the projects are designed to result in actionable information, tools, and strategies that communities can use to strengthen their resilience.

The four projects receiving awards are:

Capacity and Change in Climate Migrant-Receiving Communities Along the U.S. Gulf: A Three-Case Comparison
Award Amount: $2,978,552
Project Director: Carlos Martin (Urban Institute)
Project Team Affiliation: Urban Institute in cooperation with Enterprise Community Partners, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, RAND Corp., Texas Southern University, and University of Central Florida
Overview: Climate change is already driving population migrations, especially along the Gulf Coast. However, the capacity of destination communities to prepare for and integrate people who are displaced by natural disasters and climate change – known as climate migrants – has received little attention. This project will examine communities in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas that are already receiving climate migrants to determine the communities’ capacities to integrate them at the point of migration and the migrants’ effects on housing and employment markets, financial services, health care providers, and social and cultural facilities. The project team will use findings to develop actionable information that Gulf communities can use in their preparation for and integration of expected future climate migrants.

Climate, Culture, Movement: Navigating Decision-Making in a Shifting Landscape for a Resilient United Houma Nation
Award Amount:
Project Director: Maureen Lichtveld (Tulane University)
Project Team Affiliation: Tulane University in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant, Louisiana State University, United Houma Nation, University of Arizona, University of Illinois, and University of New Orleans Center for Hazards Assessment, Response, and Technology
Overview: The United Houma Nation is a Louisiana state-recognized tribe primarily based in southeastern Louisiana that is striving to maintain its unique culture amidst dramatic climatic, environmental, and socio-economic change. While tribal citizens have sustained livelihoods and communities in a shifting landscape for generations, today ongoing coastal land loss combined with the cumulative impacts of health, social, and economic disparities have created unprecedented challenges for the tribe. The goal of this project is to determine how the United Houma Nation can adapt to climate-related and other short- and long-term stressors while maintaining the integrity of its community and culture. The project team will collaborate with the United Houma Nation to examine existing and emerging stressors, identify resilience strategies, and produce actionable information, tools, and interventions that can be used by the tribe to navigate these challenges. Project outputs will be useful to other Gulf Coast communities facing similar issues.

Making Gulf Communities More Resilient: Scaling-up Customized Vulnerability Assessment for Extreme Events in Gulf Cities
Award Amount: $2,190,667
Project Director: Maria Carmen Lemos (University of Michigan and Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program)
Project Team Affiliation: University of Michigan in cooperation with Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program, Headwaters Economics, Stanford University, Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, and University of Oklahoma
Overview: Communities along the Gulf coast are coping with stronger and more frequent storms that are expected to worsen in the future, and it is increasingly challenging to anticipate and prepare for these events. To increase their future resilience, cities need to plan to respond and adapt, yet many currently lack the capacity to do so. Enabling cities to engage more easily and consistently with scientists and organizations working on resilience and climate adaptation is a way to build this capacity, but cost-effectively maintaining and scaling up such engagement can be difficult. This project seeks to help cities build their climate adaptation capacities by finding more cost-effective methods to build relationships with scientists and organizations that can assist them. The project will use different technology-assisted communications methods to work with 60 cities throughout Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to assess their vulnerability and integrate climate adaptation into existing planning processes. It will identify best practices that can guide similar efforts elsewhere.

The New First Line of Defense: Building Community Resilience through Residential Risk Disclosure
Award Amount: $3,403,554
Project Director: Christopher Emrich (University of Central Florida)
Project Team Affiliation: University of Central Florida in cooperation with Arizona State University, Florida Atlantic University, Louisiana Sea Grant, Louisiana State University, RAND Corporation, University of Florida, University of New Orleans, and University of South Carolina
Overview: The first line of defense for residents and their resilience is housing protected from natural hazard impacts. Yet many residents remain unaware that the building codes and zoning regulations they expect to protect them become outdated as environmental stressors, local development patterns, materials science, and construction practices change. Improved residential risk disclosure is a key component for building resilient communities. To make informed decisions about where to live and how to protect housing investments, residents require knowledge about potential natural hazard exposure and impacts along with available mitigation strategies.  This project aims to advance community resilience by improving people’s understanding of risks and their willingness to undertake hazard mitigation when choosing where they live.  The project team will work with communities throughout the Gulf region to test strategies for dissemination and uptake of information on disaster risk and mitigation alternatives. The ultimate goal is to identify practices most likely to result in residents taking actions to reduce risk and increase resilience.   

All projects selected underwent an external peer-review process. These projects are the winners of the Gulf Research Program’s Thriving Communities Grants 5 funding competition. For more information about the Gulf Research Program’s grant opportunities, visit nationalacademies.org/gulf/grants.   

The National Academies' Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment by catalyzing advances in science, practice, and capacity to generate long-term benefits for the Gulf of Mexico region and the nation. The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund studies, projects, and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis. Visit nationalacademies.org/gulf to learn more.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit nationalacademies.org.

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