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Communicating Coastal Risk and Resiliency

How do we best communicate climate risk and resilience to coastal communities?

Submit proposals:
Deadline:  July 20, 2014, at 11:59:59 PM U.S. Eastern Time
Rules:  All entrants must agree to the 2014 Contest Rules.
Prizes: Winners of this contest will have the opportunity to meet with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) staff to discuss their ideas, explore opportunities for funding, and to potentially influence how NOAA’s National Ocean Service invests in community resilience.  In addition, Judges Choice and Popular Choice winners will be recognized and publicized by the MIT Climate CoLab and invited to showcase their proposals at a conference held at MIT fall 2014, where a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. (See 2013 conference.)


Guidelines from Advisors and Fellows

This contest seeks proposals on how to communicate and present coastal communities with a better understanding of their vulnerability to the threats of climate change, with the goal of motivating them to take action.  The focus is on coastal flooding associated with sea level rise and more intense and frequent coastal storms.

Successful proposals:



Coastal communities, big and small, are facing increased threats from flooding and extreme weather.  For coastal flooding, a range of information and tools (see references below) has been developed to help individuals and communities understand their risks. Yet the response to this information has been mixed:  some individuals and communities are not proactively dealing with flooding risk, while others are making decisions that will increase their resilience.  Ideally, the tools available would help all communities make decisions to increase their resilience.  Further, there is strong interest in applying and/or developing user-friendly, useful indicators to help coastal residents, coastal developers and planners, and coastal communities understand both their level of risk for coastal flooding as well as opportunities to improve their resilience to flooding.  This information would help communities better plan for and potentially prevent disasters.  

This contest seeks ideas on how best to communicate information and indicators already developed on coastal resilience so that communities can more easily understand the degree to which their community, including homes, businesses, and municipal infrastructure, is resilient in the face of climate change.  

Tools that compile information and help individuals interpret information and indicators at a local level would be very useful.  The target audiences for the product or service ideas from this contest includes the coastal planning and management community and decision makers, but may also include individual residents or businesses in coastal communities.  In other words, products and tools need to be useful at the local community level.  Additionally, communication tools should focus on empowering communities to take action to become more resilient, not to discourage them so that they feel it is hopeless and thus take no action.

Keep in mind, also, that this contest focuses on communication tools and products to help communities understand their level of resilience, but it is only one part of a bigger goal.  The larger goal is to eventually provide a more comprehensive tool/package that could not only communicate information about resilience, but also help communities identify actions they can take to improve their resilience, as well as tools for tracking actions they have taken and assessing the effectiveness of those actions.


Additional Resources:


Social Vulnerability Assessment:

Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program in the Gulf of Mexico:

Social Vulnerability Index:

TAMU indicators work (PDF)

Digital Coast Tools from NOAA:

Sea Level Rise Viewer Tool:

Coastal Flood Explore Mapper:

Mississippi-Alabama SeaGrant Coastal Storms Program Resilience Index:

New York Times interactive sea level rise mapper for coastal cities:

Climate Central's Surging Seas mapping tool:

The Nature Conservancy's Climate Wizard, a temperature and precipitation mapping tool:


Contest photo source: National Ocean Service,