South Carolina Aquarium Works to Prepare Coastal Communities for Climate Change

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New Initiative Focuses on Helping Citizens and Communities Cope and Thrive in the Face of Rising Seas

“Rising sea level threatens us all, from people and property to wildlife and wild places,” said Jonathan Zucker, Aquarium Board Chair. “We feel a special obligation as a trusted convener of key players - and presenter of scientific data - to make sure th

July 11, 2016 — Sea level rise, storm surge and changing ocean conditions caused by climate change are being experienced firsthand in the Lowcountry, and the South Carolina Aquarium is introducing a new initiative to provide citizens and communities with the facts about the foremost environmental issue facing our generation. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in the 1970s Charleston experienced just two days of tidal flooding per year, but by 2045 the city is predicted to see 180 days, or half the year, of flooding annually.

The Resilience Initiative for Coastal Education (RICE), which will be announced July 14, is being established to coordinate a resilience strategy for the communities and shoreline of the Lowcountry to create awareness, to develop tools to address the changing landscape, and to work with organizations to plan for sea level rise.

“Rising sea level threatens us all, from people and property to wildlife and wild places,” said Jonathan Zucker, Aquarium Board Chair. “We feel a special obligation as a trusted convener of key players - and presenter of scientific data - to make sure that everyone is informed about what is at stake and who is at risk.”

Over a three-year period, the Aquarium and its partners will:

  •     Develop a comprehensive public engagement and education awareness program to communicate the importance of resilience planning.
  •     Develop an advanced storm surge and coastal inundation modeling system for the coastline utilizing NOAA imaging data.
  •     Engage municipal, corporate and government agency leaders in coordinated planning to arrive at innovative, long-range solutions.

The Aquarium will announce details surrounding RICE on July 14, 2016 at 10 a.m. in the Aquarium’s Great Hall. Mayor John Tecklenburg along with Aquarium President Kevin Mills and Dr. Emory Campbell, Director Emeritus of the Penn Center, will be on hand to discuss the ties of the Gullah Geechee culture to the environment, the resiliency initiative, and how the City of Charleston is taking action to address rising sea levels. The painting “American Gullah” by artist Sonja Griffin Evans will also be unveiled.

To R.S.V.P. to this event, please contact Kate Dittloff at kdittloff@scaquarium.org or call (843) 579-8660.

The first phase of the initiative is currently underway across the Lowcountry. The Aquarium, in association with the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina ETV, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Allen University, are hosting a series of community town hall meetings. Attendees will be introduced to climate change through the film “Climate Change: A Global Reality.” Following the film, a group of local experts will be on hand to discuss the impacts climate change has on the area, and how communities and individuals can best prepare for rising seas. The next town hall meeting takes place July 16 at the Charleston County Main Library; two additional meetings will take place August 20 in Myrtle Beach and October 15 in Savannah. To learn more about the Charleston town hall click here, For information on the remaining town halls click here.

For media inquiries contact Kate Dittloff, (843) 579-8660 or kdittloff(at)scaquarium.org.

About the South Carolina Aquarium:
The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s most visited attraction, features thousands of amazing aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead turtles in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of South Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Dedicated to promoting education and conservation, the Aquarium also presents fabulous views of Charleston harbor and interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

The South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving Day, half day Dec. 24 (open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Dec. 25. Admission prices are: Toddlers (2 and under) free; Youth (3-12) $17.95; Adults (13+) $24.95. The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddlers, $22.95 for Children, $29.95 for Adults. The 4-D Theater experience only is $6.95 for Children and Adults, and free for Members. For more information call 843-720-1990 or visit scaquarium.org. Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.

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Kate Dittloff
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