State of the Planet

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Helping Communities Respond to Climate Change

COREDAR framework graphic

By Saleem Khan

Climate change and sea-level rise already pose threats to many coastal cities and pose risks for many more communities in the future. But scientists face a challenge in translating complex climate science in ways that are useful to the people most affected. Now a pair of research centers at the Earth Institute and in India have undertaken a project to help.

Called COREDAR, the project is creating a checklist to allow policy-makers and researchers to systematically gather climate change information and put it into a form that helps inform the public and point the way ahead.

COREDAR—Communicating Risk of Climate Change and Engaging Stakeholders in Framing Community-based Adaptation Strategies—is a collaboration between the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University and Anna University’s Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research in Chennai, India. It has been funded by the U.S. Department of State and the Government of India, through the Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Program 2015–2016.

The Battery Park Underpass in Manhattan, flooded with seawater during Superstorm Sandy. Photo: NYC Department of Transportation
The Battery Park Underpass in Manhattan, flooded with seawater during Superstorm Sandy. Photo: NYC Department of Transportation

The program sets out three important questions from the lens of sea-level rise and community-based adaptation:

  • What community engagement, if any, is currently taking place to address sea-level rise?
  • What information do communities need, and how does it need to be communicated in order to better prepare for and provide a greater sense of agency to stakeholders?
  • How can city and federal governments engage communities and help them act?

The project gathers information on past trends and future projections, predicted impacts and vulnerabilities. It frames adaptation strategies and looks at how best to integrate adaptation policies. And the communications tool provides a platform to integrate both top-down and bottom-up approaches on decision making, and to frame effective climate change adaptation strategies by integrating climate change science, society and policy.

Importantly, this new communications tool provides a space for all stakeholders to be involved with and contribute to the climate change decision-making process. That includes adaptation scientists, researchers, academicians, policy-planners, decision-makers, NGOs and the general public.

The project addresses an important aspect of the UN’s efforts to deal with climate change. Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change highlights the responsibility of participating countries to develop and implement educational and public awareness programs on climate change and its impacts, to ensure public access to information, and to promote public participation.


Saleem_KhanSaleem Khan is a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow visiting the Center for International Earth Science Information Network for a year. His research addresses the risk of climate change–induced sea level rise and its impacts on low-lying urban coastal cities. In 2013 Khan was selected as one of 25 Next Generation Climate Change Scholars by the U.S. National Science Foundation and NASA through the Dissertation Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research. For more information on his work, email him at or visit

This blog originally appeared on the “What’s Happening” site of the United Nations Academic Impact, a global educational initiative.


Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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