Friday, December 19, 2014

Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments

Project Summary

CISA was established in 2003 at a turning point in water resources management in the Carolinas. Initially conceived to work on water issues, CISA's research now extends to drought monitoring and assessment, watershed modeling, coastal climatology, adaptation, and climate assessment activities for the Carolinas. Researchers at CISA work in collaboration with stakeholders to  to identify and develop effective methods of providing climate science, data, and education around these issues.

Selected Outputs
  • A severe drought in the Carolinas from 1998-2002 and a subsequent relicensing process for 20 dams in South Carolina were the catalysts for the creation of the Dynamic Drought Index Tool. As part of the relicensing process, researchers from CISA worked with federal, state and local partners to foster a dialogue on how to be better prepared for drought. In response to the needs articulated, researchers created a web-based interface that became the Dynamic Drought Index Tool. Drawing from resources within NOAA and social and climate science analyses, the tool provides interactive drought forecast maps for the Carolinas that currently help water managers plan for drought and distribute water in an equitable manner. CISA researchers are now transitioning the tool to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, which serves people from Maine to West Virginia. 

  • Successful adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts in coastal regions requires the generation of realistic risk and adaptation scenarios and models in processes that pay close attention to producing knowledge that informs decision making and produces community acceptance. The Vulnerability and Consequence Adaptation Planning Scenario (VCAPS) process was developed in partnership with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and Social and Environmental Research Institute and initially implemented in Sullivan’s Island and McClellanville, SC, and Plymouth, NC, in 2010-11. Since 2011, the VCAPS process has also been conducted with coastal communities in the Gulf Coast and New England, and plans are underway for new projects in Beaufort, SC, and in Columbia, NC. 

Recent Workshops
  • Supporting Improved Natural Resource Planning through Climate (2012): A webinar with background on the National Climate Assessment, actions that will be taken in the Southeast, and the benefits to the region of participating in the Assessment. The webinar was presented in concert with SCIPP.

  • Carolinas Drought Early Warning Scoping Workshop (2012): The National Integrated Drought Information System and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences & Assessments (CISA) are partnering to develop a Carolinas pilot project. The purpose of the workshop was to identify potential partners and vulnerabilities to be addressed.

  • Helping Coastal Communities Strategize Adaptations to Climate Change (2011): A workshop at the Coastal Zone 11 Conference showcasing the vulnerability assessment techniques being used in local communities to assess flood risk. This research is also being carried out as part of a COCA project, Informing Coastal Management Adaptation Planning and Decision Making for Climate Change Using an Interactive Risk-Based Vulnerability Assessment Tool.

  • National Climate Assessment in the Southeast Region (2011): A webinar with background on the National Climate Assessment, actions that will be taken in the Southeast, and the benefits to the region of participating in the Assessment. The webinar was presented in concert with SCIPP.

  • Understanding Needs for a Drought Early Warning System: Urban Water Systems in North Carolina (pdf) (2011): Results from an online survey and meeting with the North Carolina Urban Water Consortium, a member organization representing the state’s 12 largest water systems looking at their current use of drought data and information, exploring drought impacts and concerns of urban water systems, and identifying needs and preferences for new drought-related tools and information.

Other Resources
  • Carolinas Coastal Climate Outreach Initiative: A partnership between CISA and the North and South Carolina Sea Grant programs that educates stakeholders and the public on the impact climate can have on their daily lives and decisions.

  • Coastal Climate Impacts (pdf): Four page brochure put out through North Carolina and South Carolina's Sea Grant Offices that provides information on coastal climate, its impacts on society and the environment, and data and information sources for the Carolinas coast.

  • The Impact of Drought on Coastal Ecosystems in the Carolinas (pdf): A report prepared on the recommendations of coastal managers that covers the state of the knowledge of drought impacts on the Carolinas coasts.

Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)

Western Water Assessment (WWA)  

Principal Investigator

Kirstin Dow

Program Manager

Kirsten Lackstrom


Greg Carbone
Chip Konrad
Dan Tufford
Jessica Whitehead
Ryan Boyles
Hope Mizzell
Burrell Montz
Jan Moore
Geoff Scott

Affiliated Institutions

East Carolina University
North Carolina Sea Grant
North Carolina State University
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Carolina Sea Grant
Southeast Regional Climate Center
University of North Carolina
University of South Carolina

Dates Funded


Project Website