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The Climate Resilience Center in Piedmont Triad of North Carolina

Active Dates 9/1/2023-8/31/2026
Program Area Atmospheric System Research
Project Description
Temperatures in North Carolina have been increasing over the last 2-3 decades and are projected to follow the upward trend well into the middle and the end of this century. The major urban areas of the North Carolina have expanded substantially at the expense of suburban and rural landscapes. Both natural emissions from forests and emissions from fossil fuel use and wildfires and the chemical processes that lead to aerosol formation are likely to impact both air quality and climate in the region. To accurately predict urban atmospheric composition in a changing climate, we must understand the environmental drivers and climatic impact of these emission. The burden of air pollution and climate change impacts in the U.S. is not evenly shared, with the underrepresented members of the community and poor people impacted the most. The proposed Climate Resilience Center (CRC) in the Piedmont Triad, North Carolina will investigate the links between the effects of changing climate on air quality and urban heat, and the subsequent undue burden on marginalized communities in major cities across North Carolina – Greensboro, Winston Salem, and Charlotte.

The research consists of experimental and modeling studies to investigate the chemistry leading to the formation of secondary organic aerosol and their impact on health and climate in the region in collaboration with scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The community engagement projects will assess the impacts on the vulnerable communities, through collaboration with local communities in defining metrics for impacts and resilience and integrating scientific and community understanding. This proposal aims to address environmental equity concerns focused on climate resilience and the compounding effects of climate changes such as urban air quality and urban heat in the piedmont area of North Carolina by working closely with the Greensboro Sustainability Council. 

The CRC will develop tools to inform city planning decisions. This includes tools based on citizen science and crowdsourcing projects that rely on community participants and professionals working together. The project will address the challenge of building and sustaining a trusting relationship between the scientific professionals, policy makers, and the community, which in turn will hopefully create opportunities for community participation. The project will work closely with City of Greensboro city planners in addressing plans for climate resiliency by conducting community outreach and focus group meetings with community members.

The education and training aspects of the project focus on the next generation of climate scientists to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion of minorities in modeling, instrument selection and deployment, and data analysis. The CRC will develop culturally and socially relevant activities that promote students’ engagement, agency, and social responsibility.

The goal of this CRC is to educate, train, and sustain a world-class diverse workforce with climate science skills and capacity in several areas relevant to the mission and success of the center. The common elements of the training for all groups include: (1) interdisciplinary research skills involving atmospheric sciences, climate science and social and behavioral science, and the ability to translate research results to a level suitable for non-specialists. (2) communication and technical writing skills to disseminate research results to various audiences in public education and community outreach settings, and at conferences and other academic settings. This will ensure that the knowledge created by the CRC will impact diverse disciplines and communities.
Award Recipient(s)
  • North Carolina A&T State University (PI: Bililign, Solomon)