AT&T has selected Appalachian State University as one of five universities that will conduct research designed to help communities in the southeastern United States build resilience to climate change.
Joining Appalachian in participating in the Climate Resiliency Community Challenge will be the Georgia Institute of Technology, The University of Georgia, The University of Miami and the University of South Florida.
“We are excited about this project and thrilled that a North Carolina institution was selected to participate,” said Trey Rabon, president of AT&T North Carolina. “I’m confident that the work of the Appalachian team, along with that of their colleagues on other campuses, will make a lasting difference for communities across the state.”
“I’m confident that the work of the Appalachian team, along with that of their colleagues on other campuses, will make a lasting difference for communities across the state.”- Trey Rabon, president of AT&T North Carolina
This research project aligns well with Appalachian’s commitment to creating a sustainable future,” said Dr. Ece Karatan, Appalachian’s vice provost for research. “It will provide practical and immediately accessible information to predict and mitigate climate risks for rural communities in Western North Carolina. The partnership between Watauga County government and Appalachian researchers will provide impactful solutions for problems faced by the community and highlights the importance of collaboration to address challenges in our region.”
The Appalachian researchers will focus on assessing how socioeconomic disparities that affect rural communities contribute to climate vulnerability. The climate risk estimates produced by the team will better inform adaptation strategies, identify specific regional data needs and guide decision-making on disparities between risks in inland rural areas versus urban or coastal areas.
In 2019, AT&T engaged the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to develop a Climate Change Analysis Tool that visualizes climate impacts on our network and operations at the neighborhood level 30 years into the future. To enhance climate resilience more broadly, we made the data developed by Argonne National Laboratory publicly available here.
“The partnership between Watauga County government and Appalachian researchers will provide impactful solutions for problems faced by the community and highlights the importance of collaboration to address challenges in our region.”- Dr. Ece Karatan, Appalachian’s vice provost for research
The Climate Resiliency Community Challenge is the second phase of the project, with five teams using this data and funding from AT&T to conduct innovative research on climate impacts and community responses in the Southeast. The participating universities will work with local government to prepare and share a report about their findings, including proposals for potential solutions for action, with the community and online.
The participating university teams were selected through an application process that included a review by a panel of non-profit climate and resiliency experts from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and SBP (sbpusa.org).
“Climate resiliency is becoming increasingly important for all types of communities—from major coastal cities to small rural towns,” said David Kuhn of the World Wildlife Fund, one of the judges. “Data and financial support, like that provided by AT&T and Argonne National Laboratory for this competition, are essential to allowing researchers and decision-makers to better assess the risks from climate change across the Southeast and take steps to keep communities safe.”
Since 2008, Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics (RIEEE) has fostered interdisciplinary research on the environment, energy and economics, especially the areas in which these subjects intersect. The institute serves as an umbrella organization for three centers: the Appalachian Energy Center, Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) and the Southern Appalachian Environmental Research and Education Center (SAEREC). The work supported by RIEEE is integrated into Appalachian’s academic programs, used to facilitate discovery among K-12 student students and teachers, and employed in the region’s economic development. Learn more at https://rieee.appstate.edu.