MARI Activity Reports


Climate change and sea level rise is increasingly on the agenda of the public, the media, and decision makers in the public, private and social sectors of society. Focus is almost solely on the hazards and the potential disasters we might be facing. However, other changes such as the rapid increase of species extinction rates and the fundamental changes in the physiology of the Earth's life-support system (including, but not limited to changes in the flows in the global cycles of energy, nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon, water, and plastics) pose equally important challenges to the sustainability of the global human society and even the sustainability of the planetary life-support system. MARI at Old Dominion University is therefore taking a comprehensive view on the syndrome of modern global change and is focusing on the options we have to mitigate the impacts of modern global change, to adapt to the changes, and to prepare for possible futures.

To develop practice-relevant options, MARI engages in research that produces the practice-relevant knowledge needed to cope with the impacts of modern rapid changes in the Earth's life-support system, including land use changes, biodiversity loss and extinction, climate change and sea level rise, with a focus on the coastal zone and the urban coast in particular. In doing so, MARI responds to the knowledge needs of a wide range of community agents and citizens in all scoietal sectors. Conceptually, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims towards seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provides the framework for MARI's research and societal engagement.

In times of rapid changes a broad spectrum of possible futures challenges decision making. Develping foresight is of paramount importance. Knowing the full spectrum of possible futures, developing interventions that can point the system trajectory towards desirable futures, and preparing for whatever might come are core aspects of sustainability. MARI engages in research in all of these fields, including the extreme end of deep adaptation.

Locally, the high rate of local sea level rise, the exposure to extreme weather events, and the complex socio-economic structure makes Hampton Roads a natural laboratory for climate change and sea level rise. MARI utilizes this laboratory and works with stakeholders within and outside the region to generate the knowledge that can enable them not only to reduce the negative impacts but also to utilize the opportunities in the changes to come. To ensure that the societal agents get the knowledge they can apply, MARI works closely with them to ensure a co-creation of practice-relevant knowledge and to support them in the use of this knowledge.