Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Climate resiliency credit iStock user EAGiven

Climate Resilience and Adaptation

Given accelerating global climate change, understanding and enhancing the ways in which our social and ecological systems can withstand, respond to, and recover from changes (e.g., sea level rise, seasonal shifts) and disruptions (e.g., floods, hurricanes, fires) is critical.

The Nicholas Institute is engaged in work exploring the role that coastal habitats play in coastal protection and blue carbon in the Eastern U.S., challenges to payments for blue carbon, and policies to promote coral reef resiliency. We are also supporting the State of North Carolina in understanding how wetlands and floodplains can be managed to enhance resilience and carbon storage.

The Resilience Roadmap project seeks to offer actionable recommendations to inform the Administration’s national resilience agenda. Leading resilience experts from states, local and Tribal communities, civil society, academia, and the private sector, many of whom formerly worked in the federal government and on the frontlines of the climate change battle, have volunteered their time and knowledge for this vital national effort.  

The Institute has additionally developed a series of interactive tools and provided analysis to help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers better manage its reservoirs for flow and storage of water in the face of climate change.

Through our partnership with the Climate Adaptation Science Center hosted at NC State, the Institute has been helping state and federal agencies think about how management of our natural lands and wildlife may affect the provision of ecosystem services over time.


National Climate Resilience Framework: From Ideas to Action

Communities across the United States are facing accelerating effects of climate change in the form of more frequent and intense extreme weather events and chronic, long-term effects. Released in September 2023, the first-ever National Climate Resilience Framework establishes a vision for a climate-resilient nation and guidance for resilience-related activities and investments by the federal government and its partners.

North Carolina Natural and Working Lands

The North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Action Plan, part of the North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, was created in response to Executive Order 80 to identify opportunities for North Carolina’s natural and working lands.

North Carolina Pocosins Mapping

Pocosins are a unique type of wetland found in the North Carolina coastal plain. They provide valuable wildlife habitat and store large amounts of carbon in their deep peat soils. There is increasing interest in pocosin restoration as a nature-based solution that will benefit both natural ecosystems and people.

Beneficial Use of Dredge Sediment for Marsh Resilience

Coastal areas draw many visitors and full-time residents with their scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, but they’re vulnerable to many stressors.

Resilience Roadmap

The Resilience Roadmap makes recommendations for how to build greater climate resilience in the United States through federal action.

US Coastal Habitat Policy Review

Coastal habitats in the United States provide significant environmental, social, and economic benefits, including shoreline protection, carbon sequestration, food provision, and recreational and cultural services.

North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Dashboards

The NC Natural and Working Lands Action Plan quantifies the current and potential benefits from forests, farmlands, and wetlands in the state. To make this information more accessible, the Nicholas Institute has developed informational online dashboards.

Conservation Planning Tools for North Carolina’s People and Nature

Conservation organizations and land trusts in North Carolina are increasingly focused on how their work can 1) contribute to humans’ and ecosystems’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, and 2) directly mitigate climate change through carbon storage and sequestration.

Southeast Coastal Resilience Organization Database

The database is intended to assist those interested in coastal resilience in the southeastern United States to quickly find others doing related work, in order to facilitate collaboration and connection.

Coastal Blue Carbon

Research at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability examines the economic and scientific challenges that need to be addressed in order to determine whether payments for storing coastal blue carbon may one day help conserve mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, and keep them from being converted to other uses and releasing their stores of greenhouse gas.

Mapping National Natural and Working Lands Benefits

The Nicholas Institute collaborated with the US Department of Agriculture to identify datasets ready to use in a national assessment of natural and working lands benefits and to highlight data gaps and limitations.

Coastal Protection and Blue Carbon for Eastern States

Coastal habitats store carbon and protect natural and human communities from hazards.

Coral Reef Resiliency

Warm-water coral reefs around the world have undergone rapid and accelerating changes in recent decades as ocean temperatures have risen with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.


The majority of United States reservoirs were constructed when climate was thought to be unchanging and past precipitation and temperatures were reliable for predicting future conditions. Because much of the United States relies on reservoirs for hydropower, water supply, and protection from floods, it is critical to rethink how to manage reservoirs in a changing world.