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EBC RI Chapter / RISEP Program: Extreme Weather & Climate Change – Science & Solutions in Rhode Island

The association between climate change and extreme weather remains an area of active scientific research.  In its Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts increases in the total amount of precipitation in northern latitudes including an increase in heavy precipitation events.  The IPCC also predicts an increase in hurricane intensity under 21st century warming scenarios, and thus an increase in the frequency of the most intense storms, even as the overall frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease.  Extra-tropical storm tracks are also projected to change as storms get pushed further pole-ward. The impacts of sea level rise further complicate the expected severity of storms in the coastal zone as higher sea levels allow storm surge to propagate further inland, increasing damages from less severe storms.

In its 2012 Progress Report, the Rhode Island Climate Change Commission predicts that as the climate continues to change, extreme weather events such as droughts, intense precipitation, severe storms, and flooding will challenge Rhode Island.  The commission identified four key concerns for Rhode Island; these include wastewater infrastructure, drinking water supplies, energy infrastructure, and public health and safety.

This EBC Rhode Island Chapter program on extreme weather and climate change in Rhode Island will begin with a scientific overview of the interactions between extreme weather and climate change.  Emergency response to and recovery from these events from both legal and emergency management perspectives will be addressed.  Speakers from state agencies will give targeted summaries of adaptation activities in the drinking and waste water sectors.  Finally, representatives from the private sector will provide overviews of how those in the business community are adapting.

The program will close with a moderated discussion of the challenges of implementing adaptation planning strategies in an uncertain future.

Program Chair:

  Kelly Knee
Project Manager, RPS ASA


  • Thomas Ardito, Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
  • Michelle Burnett, State Floodplain Coordinator, RIEMA
  • Caroline Karp, Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University
  • Bill Patenaude, Principal Engineer, RIDEM
  • Julia Wyman, Marine Affairs Institute, Roger Williams University
  • June Swallow, Chief, Office of Drinking Water Quality, RIDOH
  • Jeff Silva, Senior Project Manager, Aspen Aerogels
  • David Vallee, Hydrologist-in-Charge, National Weather Service