Maryland Climate Resilience Indicators (MCRI): Participatory Indicators to Assess, Plan, and Evaluate Climate Adaptation Actions

Principal Investigator:

Melissa Kenney

Start/End Year:

2018 - 2020


University of Maryland, College Park

Co-Principal Investigator:

Michael Gerst, University of Maryland, College Park


Strategic focus area:

Resilient communities and economies


This research aims to aid communities in addressing the question, “are our climate adaptation investments increasing our community’s resilience?” The state of Maryland and its communities are acutely interested in this question because they are being, and will continue to be, impacted by a range of climate impacts. As a result, Maryland has been aggressively setting reduction targets to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions and developing adaptation strategies to increase its resilience to the human health, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change.

Maryland’s state government currently utilizes a wide array of decision support tools to address environmental and other issues of concern to the public interest. Among these are indicators, which track change over time for the purpose of advancing scientific understanding, communicating, informing decision-making, or denoting progress towards achieving objectives. Creating a consistent set of indicators for adaptation, however, is challenging because adaptation decisions occur at the state- and local-levels, where end-users might have different concerns, data needs, and resources available for assessment. 

To address this gap in evaluative metrics to assess, plan, and evaluate climate adaptation actions, we propose to develop a Maryland Climate Resilience Indicators (MCRI) system. The MCRI framing builds on lessons learned from the participatory indicator development and prototype process that this team led for the US Global Change Research Program. Over the two-year period, we propose a multiple phase process, conducted in collaboration with our project partners. The project activities include four major research thrusts: Task 1) development of a community relevant indicator framework for MCRI using participatory processes; Task 2) identification and assessment of existing indicators, data, and monitoring systems for relevance to MCRI; Task 3) development of MCRI prototype with associated metadata, and Task 4) iterative design of the MCRI with local communities. Outreach efforts are integrated with our research activities and goals. 

This process is designed to produce scalable indicators that are transparent, reproducible, and science-based. Specifically, it utilizes state-of-the-art conceptual modeling techniques and design-based production to root stakeholder needs at the core of the indicator products. The prototype deliverables will include a proposed visualization of indicators, text to support understanding, and full metadata documentation of the indicator production. Additionally, we expect to establish stronger partnerships between scientists on the proposal team and Maryland stakeholders. Long-term changes that we hope will result from our work, in part, include increased use of deliberate approaches to adaptation assessment, planning, and evaluation, sustained tracking of coastal resilience through MCRI, and increased understanding by Maryland citizens of resilience and how it is changing. 


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5825 University Research Court, Suite 1350 | College Park, MD 20740 | Phone: (301) 405-7500 | Fax: (301) 314-5780 | Contact Us

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