Initiative for Coastal Climate Change Research

Committed to serving as a center of excellence on climate-change issues

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) is ideally situated both geographically and in its role as a premier scientific and educational unit of the College of William and Mary and the Commonwealth of Virginia to conduct basic and applied research on the immediate and future challenges posed by global climate change.

VIMS is one of the world’s leading scientific institutions focused on the coastal zone and the interface between ocean, atmosphere, and land. VIMS research ranges from Chesapeake Bay and its watershed to the open ocean, and from the tropics to the poles.

Research to Guide a Response

Research by VIMS scientists on climate and environmentally related topics includes studies of:

  • The global carbon cycle’s basic functioning and how human activities alter it, with consequences for global warming and other aspects of environmental change
  • Watershed processes interacting with human activities such as agriculture and industry, and their impacts on rivers, estuaries, and the continental shelf
  • Ocean observing systems, including management of data collected via automated buoys, vessel-mounted sensors, and autonomous underwater vehicles
  • Computer modeling of sea level rise and storm surge, development of tools for predicting local storm impacts, and collaboration with emergency management agencies
  • Fisheries resources and changes resulting from short- and long-term climate variation and human impacts
  • Non-native species and their role in altering species distributions, ecology, biodiversity, and provision of ecosystem services
  • Contaminants and pathogens transported via air and water, their impacts on watershed processes and living resources, and development of molecular tools for identifying them
VIMS: Ready to Meet the Climate Change Challenge

With a unique three-part mission of research, education, and advisory service, VIMS is ideally suited for translating climate-change research into applied management and policy, and for training the next generation of environmental practitioners.

  • VIMS has more than 60 scientific faculty, 200 support staff, and 100 graduate students conducting research in coastal regions of the U.S. and other countries, in all oceans, and on most continents.
  • The College of William and Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS is the 3rd largest graduate school of marine science in the U.S. VIMS graduates move into highly competitive jobs in academia, government, and industry, where they have a major impact on research, management, and policy related to marine and coastal environments throughout the nation and the world.
  • VIMS provides critical and timely advisory support to local, state, and federal agencies and planning and regulatory bodies on issues related to coastal resource management, hazard mitigation, ecosystem preservation, and economic sustainability.
  • VIMS' Center for Coastal Resources Management is a leader in providing timely advice to decision-makers concerning the effects of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands
Federal Partners Help Address a Global Issue

VIMS houses and manages three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs that are helping to lead the nation’s response to coastal climate change:

  • The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is involved in numerous major initiatives in climate change research and monitoring.
  • Virginia Sea Grant promotes environmental stewardship, long-term economic development, and responsible use of Virginia’s coastal and ocean resources.
  • NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office in Virginia provides an “on-the-ground” presence in lower Chesapeake Bay for research, restoration, and coastal observations.
Contact Us

For further information, contact us at:

Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The College of William and Mary
Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062-1346, USA
Phone: 804-684-7000