NOAA and its partners have launched a new pilot project to study flooding on the Mississippi River and how to better protect the most vulnerable communities.
Backed by a US$150,000 investment from NOAA in FY2022, and in-kind services from partners at the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology through the University of Alabama, the University of Minnesota and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, the pilot project ‘Building Knowledge to Support Equitable Climate Resilience’ has two objectives:
- Better understanding the flow patterns of the upper Mississippi River to provide data on how the river will likely respond to changing climate conditions. This data is crucial for communities to plan for both flood and low flow conditions.
- Engaging vulnerable communities to enhance their climate resilience. Customized community engagement strategies for key sets of stakeholders allows NOAA and partners to collaboratively build long-term, respectful partnerships and relationships with underserved communities. Overall, this work is intended to improve the understanding, interpretation and use of these forecasts and hydrological data products and services to improve preparedness and resilience.
Don Graves, US deputy secretary of commerce, said, “Equity and resilience are core drivers of the work that happens every day at the Commerce Department. Bringing together NOAA’s climate science expertise and the local needs of upper Mississippi River communities will ultimately help our most vulnerable populations be more ready and resilient to climate threats.”
Rick Spinrad, NOAA administrator, said, “This project demonstrates how NOAA puts equity into action by working with communities from start to finish to provide meaningful insight into climate risks. Ensuring that vulnerable communities are better equipped to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and climate change is a critical part of building a climate-ready nation.”
The pilot project was developed in response to feedback received during a 2021 climate and equity roundtable focused on flooding and resilience in the Mississippi River Basin, one of eight roundtables hosted by NOAA across the country with underserved and vulnerable communities and bridge organizations to better understand the issues they face in regard to climate change.
Vankita Brown, NOAA senior advisor for equity, said, “Often, communities know what they need to be resilient — what they need is our help getting there. NOAA is proud to strengthen these meaningful connections with communities along the Mississippi River and develop climate products that benefit all users.”
Kirsten Wallace, executive director of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, added, “The NOAA Climate and Equity Roundtable provided valuable insight into the unique and shared challenges of communities in responding to and preparing for natural disasters along the Mississippi River. The Roundtable also created a helpful forum for connecting various individuals and entities working separately but towards the same common goals of improving climate resilience and social equity.”