Climate Change Adaptation Projects

Delaware Sea Grant is committed to helping local communities prepare for the present and future impacts of climate change. See below for more information about our previously funded research, outreach, and education projects related to climate change adaptation.

Climate Change Research Projects

  • Social dimensions of offshore wind power development off the Delmarva Peninsula (2015)

  • Development of a high water mark database and display system for coastal flooding events in Delaware (2015)

  • Extending models of surface hydrodynamics in complex natural and modified tidal marsh environments (2015)

  • Quantifying inundation and hydrodynamics in an anthropogenically altered tidal wetland (2014)

  • Forecasting watershed loading and lagoon response along the Delmarva Peninsula due to changing land use and climate (2014)

  • Invasion of the mitten crab in the mid-Atlantic: Characterizing larval behavior to predict responses to climate change (2012)

  • Gauging sea-level rise in marshes (2012)

  • Local urban growth and climate change impacts on Delaware Bay sea breeze (2012)

  • Forecasting the response of Delmarva lagoons to changing land use and climate: Alternative stable state and recovery trajectories (2011)

  • Could a new crop help farmers and the environment? (2010)

  • Coastal marshes, their services, and sea-level rise (2009)

Climate Change Outreach & Education

  • Climate change study (2015) An increasing majority of Delawareans are convinced that climate change and sea level rise are happening, and want immediate action to reduce their impacts, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Responsive Management, an independent public opinion firm. The survey, co-funded by Delaware Sea Grant and the State of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), polled 1,508 Delaware residents in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. It follows a 2009 DNREC-funded study to assess Delawareans’ general knowledge of climate change and sea level rise, and support for action.

  • Climate change and sea level rise infographic (2015) A climate change perception study conducted in 2011 found that an increasing majority of Delawareans are convinced that climate change and sea level rise are happening.  This infographic depicts key findings of the study. The study was supported by Delaware Sea Grant and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. For more information about the survey, visit

  • Delaware’s stormy coast (2015) A new book by coastal storm experts from DESG and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control chronicles the unprecedented destruction that resulted from Delaware’s devastating 1962 Northeaster. In Delaware alone, private and public property damage estimates exceeded $70 million, equivalent to approximately $547 million in 2014. Released in 2014, the book includes over 200 vintage photographs, which along with the story, carry a strong message about hazards, risks and the vulnerability of Delaware’s communities and environments.

  • Flood risk visualization (2015) Working with state and federal partners, DESG created web-based interactive flood risk awareness maps for 10 Sussex County communities, many of which experienced significant bayside flooding in recent years. A slider lets viewers click and drag a flood-depth map over the area expected to flood during a 100-year flood as designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The tool can help residents, property owners and community decision-makers visualize the potential extent of damage possible from a significant flood or storm in their area. Where high water data is available, the maps depict actual flooding levels from prior storms.

  • Climate for educators (2015) Educators from Delaware and Maryland have benefited from Delaware Sea Grant’s initiatives that integrate climate science into the classroom, including studies of how solar and wind energy could help to address the challenges of climate change. The Climate Change Academy is part of a $5.3-million, five-year partnership between Delaware, Maryland and the National Science Foundation, with a goal to develop clear and compelling ways to present the science of climate change to students.  The partnership – called MADE CLEAR, an acronym that stands for Maryland and Delaware Climate Change Education Assessment and Research – provides resources and research-backed data to educators. The Climate Change Academy is part of a growing effort to educate the nation's educators, bringing them up to speed on the science and data analysis. But this is much more than professional development, said Jennifer Merrill, who manages the MADE CLEAR program for Delaware and coordinates research for the Delaware Sea Grant College Program. “Our researchers are exploring how people learn about climate change, while our project is providing hands-on, interactive experiences with classroom resources, leading university climate researchers and education specialists," Merrill said.

  • Education and outreach on wind energy (2014) Wind power has the potential to provide breezy coastal regions with clean, renewable electricity. Delaware Sea Grant addresses various aspects of the industry in ongoing education and research efforts. In tandem with a science curriculum kit called “Catching the Wind” that is used in Delaware schools, Sea Grant educators offered a pilot field trip for 100 elementary school students to visit the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus to learn about wind turbines and harnessing energy from wind.

  • Natural Hazard and Climate Change Adaptation Tool Kit for Delaware Communities (2014)  Delaware communities are susceptible to a variety of natural hazards. Additionally, communities face an increasing degree of uncertainty related to the impacts that future climatic conditions may have on their areas.  This toolkit was developed to assist communities in identifying planning, mitigation and adaptation opportunities that will help reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards and climate impacts.

  • Preparing for future flood risk, natural hazards, and climate change (2014) With Hurricane Sandy still in the not so distant past, communities continue to seek assistance planning for natural hazards (e.g. coastal storms and flooding) and associated climate change impacts. Delaware Sea Grant continues to work with local governments, emergency managers, land use planners and others to do just that. Sea Grant resilience experts serve as a vital resource, offering workshops, training sessions, educational programs, tool kits and handbooks and connecting communities to the most current state and federal resources.

  • Handbook explains how to protect homes from storms (2013) Hurricane Sandy’s heavy rainfall, high tides, and floodwaters underscored the importance of having family emergency response plans and resilient buildings in place. The new Delaware Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards can help Delawareans brace for the next big storm. The book provides practical measures to keep people safe and minimize property damage. “This guide enables homeowners to understand the risks and make smart decisions about how to deal with the next weather hazard—well before it strikes,” said Delaware Sea Grant’s Wendy Carey. The handbook was prepared as a collaborative effort by Delaware Sea Grant, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

  • Satellite data assists in Hurricane Sandy response (2013) When Hurricane Sandy approached Delaware’s coast in October 2012, University of Delaware scientists followed the storm’s progress with satellites and other remote sensing equipment. The monitoring system is supported by Sea Grant to effectively follow environmental changes in the Mid-Atlantic. Scientists worked with regional officials to provide up-to-date information from satellites and interpret that data. After the storm, they were able to identify raw sewage entering the ocean near New Jersey from damaged treatment plants. These kinds of rapid response efforts help keep the public safe.

  • Providing public education on storm and tidal flooding (2013) As rain and floodwaters drenched Delaware’s coast during Hurricane Sandy, Sea Grant documented the impact. Marine Advisory Service staff set up a waterproof camera in Lewes to capture footage of the storm tide flooding over three days and create a time-lapse video, illustrating the importance of homeowners being prepared, especially with regard to flood risk, as well as evacuation planning and procedures. Check the Delaware StormSmart Coast website at for the latest information on how to protect communities from weather and climate hazards.

  • The City of Lewes Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Pilot Project (2011)  Working with partners, the City of Lewes has made significant planning progress in mitigating natural hazards and adapting to climate change. Local officials and residents have been engaged throughout this process in developing a plan to improve community sustainability and resilience. Vulnerability self-assessments were conducted during several workshops, and these assessments resulted in the identification of two key vulnerabilities. Based upon these two key vulnerabilities, six specific actions were identified as recommendations, and associated implementation guidance was provided. The recommended actions have significant overlap with the Lewes Mitigation Planning Team’s current priorities. The City will continue to work with partners to apply the recommendations that will integrate hazard mitigation and climate adaptation efforts.