The mission of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) is to increase the resilience and sustainability of communities vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environments.
CIRCA is a multi‐disciplinary, center of excellence that brings together experts in the natural sciences, engineering, economics, political science, finance, and law to provide practical solutions to problems arising as a result of a changing climate. The Institute will help coastal and inland floodplain communities in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast better adapt to changes in climate and also make their human‐built infrastructure more resilient while protecting valuable ecosystems and the services they offer to human society (food, clean air and water, and energy). The Institute will combine the world‐class research capabilities of UConn and the progressive policies and practical regulatory experience of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) to translate sound scientific research to actions that can ensure the resilience and sustainability of both the built and natural environments of the coast and watersheds of Connecticut.
While Connecticut and the Northeast are particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and associated severe weather events, the problem exists at the national and international scales, with droughts and flooding worldwide. Severe storms in the United States cause 110 deaths per year in flood-related accidents and an average of $3.8 billion annually in property damage. In addition to floods, droughts, pollution of water resources and coastal areas, ocean currents and severe weather (ice/snow/hail storms, hurricanes, etc.) are the most costly and deadly of all natural disasters. Climate change affects the water cycle increasing the frequency of abnormal weather, including heavy rains and droughts, around the world with particularly severe impacts in developing countries. While its immediate attention will be in Connecticut and the Northeast, the Institute will develop comprehensive approaches to climate change research and its impacts at the national and international scales.
In collaboration with local, regional, and national partners, the Institute’s multi‐disciplinary research, outreach, and education programs will strive to:
- Improve scientific understanding of the changing climate system and its local and regional impacts on coastal and inland floodplain communities;
- Develop and deploy natural science, engineering, legal, financial, and policy best practices for climate resilience;
- Undertake or oversee pilot projects designed to improve resilience and sustainability of the natural and built environment along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways;
- Create a climate‐literate public that understands its vulnerabilities to a changing climate and which uses that knowledge to make scientifically informed, environmentally sound decisions;
- Foster resilient and sustainable communities – particularly along the Connecticut coastline and inland waterways – that can adapt to the impacts and hazards of climate change; and
- Reduce the loss of life and property, natural system and ecological damage, and social disruption from high‐impact events.