Oregon State University

Coastal Communities Confront Climate Change

Port Orford residents map ways in which their town could be at risk from climate changeScience-based communication addresses local questions

Working under several NOAA grants, with multiple partners inside Oregon and across the country, Sea Grant Communications is studying how sound information, grounded in surveys of local residents and opinion leaders, can give coastal communities the tools they need to actively prepare for the changes that will come with climate variability. Starting from surveys to find out what people know - and need to know - in order to make sound decisions, we are producing videos and other informatin products that attempt to directly address those questions and concerns.

Helping coastal communities and decision makers confront climate change

Contact: Joe Cone

Projects include:

Climate Variability and Coastal Community Resilience: Testing a National Model of State-based Outreach (2007-11; funding: NOAA SARP). Public and private development-sector decision makers in specific at-risk communities in Oregon and Maine have been involved in this project. The goal is to move behavior toward decisive action that makes coastal communities more resilient to climate variability. Engagement with participants was grounded in research about their views, concerns, and decision needs.


Watch a short introduction to the Maine climate change video:

Mobilizing the NOAA Sea Grant Network for Coastal Community Climate Resilience (2009-2012; funding: NOAA SARP). Building off our 2007-11 collaboration with Maine Sea Grant (see above), and employing a toolkit assembled from social science research and Extension practice, this national project addresses key factors that decision makers contend with in addressing climate change:

  • their conceptual frameworks about the risks associated with climate change;
  • the management framework in which they operate that frames risks and responses;
  • their barriers to information use;
  • their critical information needs for decision making.

National Coastal Climate Survey (2010-12; funding: National Sea Grant Office). Oregon Sea Grant is coordinating the development, testing, implementation and analysis of a national survey examining the views of coastal constituents about climate change. The 2011 survey targets coastal managers and local and state decision-makers. Questions will illuminate key variables affecting climate change adaptation, including both behavioral (knowledge, attitudes, norms) and social variables (community vulnerability and adaptability). 

Climate Change and the Oregon Coast

Working with communities up and down the Oregon coast, we have

  • Surveyed selected community leaders to clarify their priorities concerning both climate-related problems and an ongoing process for addressing them;
  • Facilitated community meetings to address conflict-laden shoreline erosion issues;
  • Interviewed leaders in one county to understand their mental models of climate issues and readiness for adaptation activities;
  • Produced a DVD containing five short videos about climate change topics of public interest and concern (as determined by a 2008 survey of 300 coastal Oregonians);
  • Held exploratory discussions to better define coastal climate resilience with experts from the climate science, social science, humanities, professional regulatory, and user communities.


Contact Info

Oregon Sea Grant
1600 SW Western Blvd
Suite 350
Corvallis OR 97333
Phone: 541-737-2714
FAX: 541-737-7958

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