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Our Mission: To convene stakeholders and faculty to further our understanding of the long-term challenge of global change, including climate change, the causes, and the impacts on the Earth's life support system; to characterize the vulnerability of human communities to these impacts; to develop foresight for the range of possible futures we might be exposed to; to create the practice-relevant and applicable knowledge that could inform societal decisions for mitigation and adaptation; and to develop options for the fundamental systemic changes that are needed to address the causes of global change and adapt to the long-term impacts. To achieve this mission, MARI facilitates the co-design of a research agenda that focuses on the fundamental causes, consequences, and adaptation options for global change, co-develops an education and training program that prepares the current and future workforce for coping with the challenges in all sectors of society, and moderates deliberations with stakeholder aiming at developing societally viable long-term sustainable adaptation option.


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 the species extinction rate and the fundamental changes to the nitrogene and Phosphorous cycles pose equally important challenges to the sustainability of the global human society. MARI at Old Dominion University is therefore taking a comprehensive view on global change and is focusing on the solutions, the options we have to mitigate the impacts of global change, and to adapt to the changes.

To develop the practice-relevant solutions, MARI engages in research that produces the practice-relevant knowledge needed to cope with the impacts of global change, including 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 stakeholders, including government, military, private sector, and citizens. 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 stakeholders 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.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”       — Upton Sinclair, in ”I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”       James Baldwin.

See the quotes on climate change compiled at ...

August 2, 2017 was Earth Overshoot Day. Read more here ...

Ten books about climate change that many should read can be found here ...

Read the full story about MARI ...
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Presentation on “Climate Change in the Baltic Region: Consequences for Coastal Areas and Adaptation Examples”, Friday, November 3, 2017:

Virtual Student Foreign Service: The VSFS provides an unique oppportunity for students to engage in international projects during a virtual internship. Through the VSFS program, students can work on projects that advance the work of government on multiple fronts. Projects include helping counter violent extremism, strengthening human rights monitoring, developing virtual programs, engaging in digital communications, mapping, economic and political reporting, data analysis, graphic design, and app building. Students can choose projects from a wide variety of more than 32 federal agencies.The deadline for applications has been extended to August 2, 2017.

Getting the Picture: A Climate Education Resource ...

As part of the Sustainability Leadership class taught in Summer 2017, the students carried out three service learning projects for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the area of Vero Beach, Florida. The students researched the impact of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems, the considered the effects of climate change on ecosystems in several National Wildlife Refuges, and developed adaptation strategies for turtles and beach mice. The joint report of the three groups is available as pdf. This Service Learning Class is a mandatory course for the Minor in Conservation Leadership ODU offers in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


New course on Sustainability Leadership: The Sustainability Leadership Course was taught in the first of the 2017 Summer sessions. It will be regulary taught in this Summer session. Creating a more sustainable society presents a serious challenge and at the same time an enormous opportunity. In this class, students discovered what makes a leader for sustainability. They considered a range of global and local crises from a leadership point of view in the context of sustainability science, which addresses the development of communities in a rapidly changing social, economic, and environmental system-of-systems environment. The course took a problem-motivated and solution-focused approach to the challenges considered. The course included service-learning projects, in which students worked in small groups on developing solutions for real-world problems from a leadership point of view. The projects included a mandatory one-week work period in Florida.

Interdisciplinary Course on Mitigation and Adaptation Studies. The course was taught in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, and it will be taught in each Spring term. It gives an introduction to the science underpinning mitigation of human-induced changes in the Earth system, including but not limited to climate change, sea level rise, and land use, and discusses adaptation to the impacts of these changes. The course covers the environmental hazards and the opportunities and limitations for conservation, mitigation and adaptation. The course is a core course for the new interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership.

New interdisciplinary minor in Conservation Leadership: This interdisciplinary Minor focuses on conservation solutions in the context of our quickly changing planet. A goal of this new program is to develop the next generation of conservation leaders with the ability to critically review underlying paradigms and to initiate paradigm shifts where they are needed in conservation roles, such as in local, state and federal agency and non-profit sectors, to more suitably address the challenges of sea level rise and climate change. The core of this 15 credit minor is built around two courses on Adaptation Studies and Sustainability Leadership. The course on Sustainability Leadership is a service learning course. One additional course is an elective, which can be selected across disciplines to suit a wide-range of conservation interests. An internship is the capstone of this minor. For more information, see here.

In the 2016 Summer term (June 27 — August 6, 2016), the graduate course “Decisions, Biases, and the Creation of Knowledge” studied how personal, community and cultural biases impact the creation of knowlegde and the use of it in decision making.


For meetings of the Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum, see the dedicated web page at

  • Film Screening and Discussion of Tidewater: On September 28, 2017 at 7:00 PM, the documentary “Tidewater” will be screened and discussed at the Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News. The movie will be presented by Movie Director Roger Sorkin, U.S. Navy Capt. Dean VanderLey, and Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ann Phillips. For more information and to reserve a seat/buy ticket, see the announcement.
  • Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise/Flooding Adaptation Forum will take place on October 13 at VMASC. The topic is “New and Updated Science and Project.” It is planned to highlight local resilience projects, new sea level rise projections from the federal government, and subsidence research. Registration is possible at For more information, see">
  • Humboldt Foundation Fellow to talk about Adaptation around the Baltic Sea On November 3, 2017, Prof. Dr. Gerald Schernewski (read more) will speak at ODU about “Climate Change in the Baltic Sea Region: Consequences for coastal areas and adaptation examples.” The time and location of the presentation is still to be determined. The abstract is available here. The event is organized by the Alumni Council of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and MARI at Old Dominion University.
  • Role of the Ocean for SDGs: MARI is engaged in the development of a White Paper on the role of the ocena for the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs in Caribbean Smal Island States. A workshop bringing together governments and Earth observation providers is being organized in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and will take place in January 2018. For more information, see the Workshop Announcement.


  • Hampton Roads Resilience Forum: Take Part in a Watershed Event — The Hampton Roads Resilience Forum is a regional summit to advance economic development and public policy. It will discuss how the region works with water. The event will take place on August 22, 2017 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. More information is available here. See also the article by Jessica Williams.
  • Faculty Conference to focus on advancing sustainability pedagogy and leadership: The first Sustainability Curriculum Consortium (SCC) Faculty Conference took place on June 26-27 at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia. This conference focused on Pedagogy, Content & Leadership for ESD with a mix of panels, workshops, roundtables and facilitated dialogue and an emphasis on peer-to-peer exchange. For details, see announcement ...
  • GEO Blue Planet Symposium in College Park, MD: The 3rd Symposium of the Blue Planet Initiative, Oceans and Society of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) took place on May 31-June 2, 2017 at the NOAA Facilities in College Park, MD, USA. All presentations are available at the symposium web page.
  • Achieving Environmental Equity: A community roundtable organized by the Urban Sustainability and Equity Center in Richmond, Virgina on May 1, 2017, 6:00-8:00 PM, will discuss local heat island patterns in the City of Richmond. Registration is available at
  • Fifth GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder workshop: The 5th GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop on “Linking the Sustainable Development Goals to Earth Observations, Models and Capacity Building” was held on December 9-10, 2016, Berkeley, California, USA. For more information, see
  • Annual Education Seminar of the Virginia Water Environment Association: The Seminar was held on May 12, 2016 in Richmond, Virgina, and it included an opening presentation on “Global and Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: Understanding and Meeting the Challenge from Local to Global Levels” by Hans-Peter Plag. The presentation is available as PDF.
  • For more past events, see here ...


[May 31, 2017] Flood Risk Management: The WWF published “Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide”, which introduces an integrated framework for flood management, drawing on policy, green infrastructure and conventional engineering to help communities adapt and better manage growing flood risk. Read the guide ...

[April 21, 2017] Achieving Environmental equity: A community roundtable organized by the Urban Sustainability and Equity Center in Richmond, Virgina on May 1, 2017, 6:00-8:00 PM, will discuss local heat island patterns in the City of Richmond. Registration is available at

[April 20, 2017] Trillions of plastic pieces are polluting the oceans: An article in the New York Times reports that trillions of plastic bits are swept up by currents and are littering Arctic waters. Most of this is coming from the North Atlantic. The consequences for marine ecosystem are likely to be severe.

[February 10, 2017] How to be successful under unfavorable conditions?: In a new column in ApogeoSpatial, Hans-Peter Plag finds that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations came in a world not prepared for them and he addresses the question how they can be successful under these umfavorable conditions.

[February 7, 2017] The crack in Larsen C is growing: A NYT article by Jugel Patel, an ODU student, illustrates the rapid development of the large crack in the Larsen C ice shelf. If the crack continues to grow at current speed, a large paret of the ice shelf will break of in the next few month.