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NOAA will spend $3 billion to fight climate change along the coast

Federal officials are poised to invest three billion dollars in projects aimed at dealing with climate change along the coast. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has more than $3 billion ready to fund projects that bolster natural systems which can buffer the impacts of climate change.

In California, funded projects could include sand replenishment, wetlands recovery and expansion, or natural projects that fight coastal erosion.

“Rebuilding some of that natural infrastructure,” said Lori Arguelles, NOAA communications director. “Helping to restore wetlands and marshes. And to make sure that the systems that are naturally in place can do their best work.”


The federal agency is tapping a three-billion-dollar pool of money that was part of the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress recently.

The law also includes a significant amount of money to invest in NOAA’s weather forecasting capability. Arguelles says that includes a significant investment in supercomputers.

“All of those things will be really beneficial to the people of Southern California,” Arguelles said. “Particularly fire-prone years as we are in this La Niña — El Niño cycle. Mother nature is reminding us who's in charge. We’re just doing our best to make sure we can help manage, mitigate, predict, forecast the various different elements.”

The warming climate is pushing up sea levels and increasing the frequency and intensity of storms that can batter the coast. Arguelles said billion-dollar disasters used only to happen an average of once every 80 days. The warming climate means those big weather events now happen an average of every 18 days.

“And so, we’re already seeing the many ways that, through recovery efforts, we are paying for climate change,” she said.


NOAA set up a competitive grant process for cities and agencies that’ll do the work, with money awarded over a five-year period.