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Friday, April 8, 2016

April 11-13, world experts meet in Newport on sea level rise

URI’s Pam Rubinoff, coastal management expert, to speak at Newport conference

Scholars from throughout the world will gather in Newport this weekend to talk about the threat of rising sea levels, and University of Rhode Island experts and students are among those participating.

Pamela Rubinoff, senior coastal manager at the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, will talk on Monday, April 11 at 9:15 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 25 America’s Cup Avenue, in Newport.

“The impact of sea level rise and storms are already being seen throughout our communities,’’ says Rubinoff. “Historic and cultural assets are key to our community connection.’’

The Newport Restoration Foundation’s “Keeping History Above Water’’ conference—April 10 through 13 at the Marriott—is one of the first national gatherings to focus on how rising sea levels threaten historic communities, like Newport.

Rubinoff is among the 40 preservationists, engineers, architects, scientists, insurers, homeowners, city planners and public officials who will discuss what can be done to protect historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods.

URI students studying environmental science and management, landscape architecture and marine affairs will also exhibit posters about their research on designing sustainable solutions to sea level rise.

Participating students are Antone Almeida of Lisbon, Conn.; Julia Miller of Kingston; Nelle D’Aversa; Kristina Niemeyer of West Warwick; Mary-Kate Kane; Beau Doucette of Wilmington, Vt.; Doug Stonis of North Attleboro, Mass.; Joshua Bourgery of Blackstone, Mass.; Zaire Garrett of Washington D.C.; and Antonio Rosedorne of Johnston.

“I can’t describe how excited and proud I am to have our students presenting their work at a national conference on climate change and coastal resilience,’’ says William Green, chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. “The students have shown a real commitment to the academic process, developing and refining concepts for the conference. I can’t wait to see the interactions between our students and conference attendees. The learning just continues.’’

URI has a key role in coastal resiliency research nationwide.

Last year, the University was selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be one of two primary partners, along with Jackson State University, in the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The selection enables URI to provide research designed to help build resiliency along the country’s coastlines and prepare for increasingly severe coastal hazards.

Two of three funded research projects focus on the design of tools and methods to enable communities to become better prepared for sea level rise, more intense hurricanes, and other coastal hazards from climate change. A third project uses Rhode Island coastal waters as a test area to develop computer modeling for hurricanes.

“We’ve worked here in Rhode Island and internationally on these issues,’’ says Rubinoff. “We’re eager to learn from the expertise of others from the conference and to share that with our communities worldwide.’’

Online registration for “Keeping History Above Water’’ is closed, but tickets can be purchased at the conference registration desk, beginning at noon on Sunday, April 10, and each day after that. For more information, visit

“Leaders from many different disciplines are joining us from around the globe because they recognize that this is a historic opportunity to facilitate change,” said Pieter N. Roos, executive director of the Newport Restoration Foundation. “The caliber and breadth of our speaker line-up demonstrates just how important these issues of sea level rise and historic preservation are to so many people and communities. We’re honored and humbled to be able to convene some of the brightest minds working in these fields today.”

The foundation is hosting the conference in partnership with URI’s Coastal Resources Center; Roger Williams University; Salve Regina University; Preserve Rhode Island; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Pictured above: Pamela Rubinoff, senior coastal manager at the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Sea Grant. Photo courtesy of GSO’s Coastal Resources Center.