Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (MARISA)

MARISA Annual Report 2018 
(Period of Performance: 9/1/17 - 5/31/18)

MARISA Briefing Sheet (2017)

Principal Investigators
Debra Knopman
Melissa Finucane
Klaus Keller

Co-Program Manager, Science and Analysis
Jordan Fischbach

Co-Program Manager, Operations and Outreach
Elizabeth Thornton

Ben Hobbs
Rob Nicholas

Affiliated Institutions 
RAND Corporation (Core Office)
Penn State University
Johns Hopkins University

Dates Funded 

MARISA Website

Mission & Vision

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (MARISA) program was established in September 2016 and has an overarching mission to support integrated, flexible processes for building adaptive capacity to climate variability and change in diverse settings in the Mid-Atlantic region, with an initial focus on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Building on decades of research in this region, MARISA emphasizes use-inspired research that integrates social and physical science methods to generate, analyze, and translate climate information at multiple spatial and temporal scales for diverse stakeholders.


MARISA focuses on five objectives:

  1. Assess climate risks, uncertainties, and vulnerabilities through first conducting a screen process to rank projected climate-driven risks by the urgency of the decision and identify the main decision-relevant uncertainties to guide design of decision-support tools and new climate research. Informed by these results, MARISA will produce new climate and sea level rise projections focusing on decision-relevant time scales and on the tails of relevant distributions that improve representations of climate uncertainties. Leveraging these new climate product, MARISA will perform an integrated and climate-informed flood risk assessment for Chesapeake Bay communities. This project will help stakeholders assess flood vulnerabilities and risk in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed under different future climate scenarios.
  2. Supporting adaptation planning, decision making, and adaptive management by connecting existing models and data to better understand options for improved water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs), flood risk, and erosion reduction. Through this process, we will develop planning and decision support tools to identify and evaluate adaptive, integrated water management strategies. The tools provide the analytical structure and organizes information to support a participatory process with stakeholders and decision makers in the region.  
  3. Supporting regional climate assessments and services by contributing Mid-Atlantic regional information to the forthcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment and developing research-to-operations decision-support tools.  These tools will be facilitated by the NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center’s Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) with the goal of successfully translating modeling work and research results to useable stakeholder decision tools.
  4. Training a new generation of leaders in climate change adaptation and risk management at RAND, PSU, and JHU through the Summer School on Sustainable Climate Risk Management, decision-analytical workshops, training sessions for stakeholders and resource managers, providing open-source training materials and tools, and hosting research and professional fellows. Open-source teaching materials will help to train practitioners in mission-relevant concepts and the workshops will help to teach a broader community of academics about the merits of mission-oriented, use-inspired science.
  5. Advancing program performance by measuring and understanding the mechanisms of MARISA impacts and evaluation the impacts of cooperation and coordination of RISA teams in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Midwest.  These tasks will help to adaptively improve the performance of the MARISA program and assess the value of the program as a regional leader supporting real-world decision makers with climate information and services that are unique yet coordinated with other regional programs.

Other Resources

PSU MARISA Climate Data Website
MARISA Twitter: @MidAtlanticRISA



Dr. Chelsea Combest-Friedman
Social Scientist, Program Director (Acting)
P: (301) 734-1240

Caitlin Simpson
Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1251

Dr. Ariela Zycherman
Social Scientist, Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1244

Sean Bath*
Program Specialist (UCAR)
P: (301) 734-1294


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. 


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