The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded funding to Sea Grant programs and universities in the Southeast U.S. and Caribbean regions to study climate inequities in coastal communities.

“The Southeast and Caribbean Climate Alliance will work with communities in these regions to identify the root causes of health disparities and inequities and understand ways in which these are worsened by climate change,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

Coastal communities are experiencing increased flooding that can cut off access to healthcare facilities. Rising seas lead to saltwater intrusion, impacting water supply and wastewater infrastructure. Floodwaters that cover roads or encroach on residential homes carry pollutants and bacteria. All these threats pose a risk to public health.

“Populations that are typically most vulnerable to these risks are low-income communities, communities of color, rural communities, tribal and indigenous communities,” said project lead Mona Behl, associate director of Georgia Sea Grant at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

The alliance includes experts at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, Florida Sea Grant, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, Puerto Rico Sea Grant, the University of Virgin Islands and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the next year, the team will work to identify the most vulnerable communities in the Southeast and Caribbean regions and cultivate partnerships with local leaders, businesses and public health professionals to improve communication, share existing tools, and identify information and resource needs. They will also host workshops to gather input that will inform policies, programs, and trainings needed to design community-led solutions to reduce health disparities and inequities in these regions.

“Local solutions to climate change are most effective when they are developed holistically, taking into consideration racial, socioeconomic and structural barriers,” Behl said. “By working with communities in these regions, we will develop a shared vision and research framework to improve community health, promote economic development and build climate resilience.”

Learn more about the alliance and how to get involved here

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Writer: Emily Kenworthy,, 912-598-2348 ext. 107
Contact: Mona Behl,, 706-542-6621