CCRUN Seminar Abstracts

CCRUN Green Infrastructure, Climate, and Cities Seminar Series

Wednesday October 6, 2021

A Coalition Around Heat Research in Charleston, South Carolina

Seminar Description:

We’re teaming up with a collaboration of researchers including our NOAA RISA partners in the Carolinas (CISA) to take a deep dive into how the city of Charleston is experiencing extreme heat in this session, A Coalition Around Heat Research in Charleston, South Carolina.”

In 2020, the Charleston Medical District (CMD), Climate Adaptation Partners (CAP), and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences Assessment (CISA) team began collaborating on an integrated heat research program. In a city where chronic flooding plagues neighborhoods, drawing attention to extreme heat and its health implications is a relatively new effort, and one that requires new types of collaborations in order to be effective. The City of Charleston, the CMD, The Citadel, and CISA with USC, UNC, NC State and Appalachian State alongside CAP and many local partners developed a new approach to raising awareness to extreme heat at a timely moment when over $2B of planned projects were proceeding without heat considerations. Striking in its absence, particularly given the expected tripling of extreme heat days in the area, the situation warranted further attention, and required a significant lift from many parties. With a growing network of collaborators, the team sampled data to draw attention to the problem, worked with local physicians to contextualize patient impacts and hosted a series of events in which the issues, the approach and the research program coalesced. Early results include alteration of the City Comprehensive Plan to be inclusive of Extreme Heat, integration of extreme heat in campus plans for all involved institutions, designation of ‘Heat Awareness Month’ by the Medical University of South Carolina, a significant increase in local interest in the issue, inclusive of the medical community as well as interfaith groups, tourism organizations and the technical community that previously focused only on water.

The October 2021 CCRUN panel introduces the ramp up to the collaboration, the work in developing a coalition of partners, the heat/health relationship and importance of the research, the process behind the three types of parallel research programs and their interrelations, samples of initial data and early outcomes from the combined efforts. Presenters work in climatology, geography, environmental epidemiology and adaptation planning.

About the Speakers     

Dr. Janice Barnes, founding partner of Climate Adaptation Partners, a NYC-based, woman-owned business emphasizing adaptation planning, advocacy, and partnership-building, prioritizes the relationship between climate change, design, and public health. She’s a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change where she co-chairs the Health Working Group, a lead author for UCCRN ARC 3.3 COVID-19, Climate Change and Cities, a curricula consultant for UPENN on climate and health, and co-chair of the AIA National Resilience Advisory Group. Janice is currently working with Charleston on a multicomponent heat research program to raise heat risk awareness, identify coping strategies and improve mitigation and adaptation integration in local investments. Prior to starting CAP, Janice led the global resilience lab for the international design firm, Perkins+Will, working with 24 offices across multiple countries to advance resilience in concert with in-country initiatives, including the development of ClimateReadyDC, the district’s first climate adaptation plan. Janice has a Ph.D. and MSc. from the University of Michigan, a M. Arch from Tulane University, a B. Arch. from the University of Tennessee and a Certificate in Municipal Finance from the University of Chicago and Lincoln Land. 

Dr. Kirstin Dow is Carolina Trustees Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina. She is a social-environmental geographer focusing on understanding climate impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation using methods involving extensive participation of stakeholders and decision-makers. Dow serves as principal investigator of the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) (, a NOAA-supported partnering with decision makers to bridge climate science and decision making in support of climate adaptation strategies specific to water resources, coastal regions, and public health concerns in the Carolinas. Dow currently serves as the Co-Chair of NOAA’s Climate Working Group under the Science Advisory Board.  She has served as an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5) and on the Southeast and Research Needs chapters for the 3rd and 4th US National Climate Assessments. 

Dr. Jennifer Runkle is a trained environmental epidemiologist who serves as a research scientist at NC State’s North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS) and the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS) within the academic arm of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Her research is focused on using causal science to rapidly understand how, when, and where local interventions may best be leveraged to reduce climate-health inequities in at-risk communities. 

Dr. Maggie Sugg, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Appalachian State University.  She has published nearly 50 articles at the intersection of climate and health.  She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award and the EPA’s STAR fellow program. 

Dr. Charles Konrad is a geographer, meteorologist, and a climatologist who studies extreme weather and its impacts on society. Konrad directs the NOAA-funded Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC), which provides a wide range of weather & climate services and expertise for the region. Konrad’s research deals with extreme weather events, especially heavy rainfall, hurricanes, and hot events, whose impacts on society are expected to increase in the future. Much of this work falls within the realm of climate-public health and provides a wide range of applications that benefit, among others, weather forecasters, health professionals and emergency management specialists. This research utilizes state-of-the-art datasets and technologies that untangle complex spatiotemporal patterns and relationships. Konrad’s research provides an explicit geographic context for unraveling this complexity, both in the atmospheric processes and patterns that produce extreme weather events and the societal impacts of these events across the landscape.