Forum 6 (Sept. 19, 2014): Comparing Risk Assessment Tools for Sea Level Rise

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Forum 6 (Sept. 19, 2014): Comparing Risk Assessment Tools for Sea Level Rise

Attendees of the Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum gathered to compare risk assessment tools for flooding and sea level rise.

Adam Parris speaks about sea level rise scenarios for coastal adaptation. ©Julia Robins/VASG

Adam Parris speaks about sea level rise scenarios for coastal adaptation. ©Julia Robins/VASG

Event Files and Presentations

Forum 6 Agenda

 

By Julia Robins, Staff Writer

More than 65 scientists, community planners, and federal and state representatives met on September 19 at the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University (ODU) for the sixth Virginia Sea Grant-funded Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum.

Attendees gathered to compare risk assessment tools for flooding and sea level rise and to discuss coastal adaptation and preparedness.

The first presenter was Adam Parris, program manager from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Program Office. Parris spoke about the National Climate Assessment, which summarizes the current and future impacts of climate change on the United States by developing sea level rise scenarios that decision-makers can use in different planning situations.

Michelle Covi. ©Julia Robins/VASG

Michelle Covi welcomes attendees of the forum. ©Julia Robins/VASG

Scenarios present information about aspects of environmental change that could potentially occur at different points in the future. Developing and preparing for these scenarios takes time.

“Resilience is a process. Resilience is this meeting. It is learning, cooperation, science, and exchange,” Parris said.

Because the range of future global sea level rise is uncertain, the scenarios provide information for decision-makers to consider multiple outcomes. This helps manage the level of uncertainty when planning for coastal adaptation.

“You can’t plan for a single rate of sea level rise, you have to plan for all scenarios,” said Molly Mitchell from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Mitchell also spoke at the forum and presented the Comprehensive Coastal Resource Management Tool, Virginia’s most up-to-date tool regarding sea level rise data. It allows both members of the public and decision-makers to look at different management options for preparing for sea level rise around shorelines. Users can even type in their addresses to see how sea levels around their property have changed over the years.

Said Gwynn Crichton, senior project scientist with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), another presenter at the forum, “If we equip scientists and the community with the tools and know-how they need, they will use them, increasing our resilience to coastal hazards.”

Crichton spoke about the Coastal Resilience Tool, which identifies nature-based solutions to build resilience to natural hazards like sea level rise, including salt marshes, mangroves, sea grass, and riparian forests. The tool not only identifies strategies for risk reduction and conservation, but also measures the effectiveness of the actions taken. TNC has added infographics, customizable apps, and other features to help users understand the data and will continue to make the tool accessible to scientists and the community.

“We at ODU are always surprised at how many government and business staff take time to attend the forum,” says Michelle Covi, ODU extension staff affiliated with VASG, who organized the event. “We hear that attendees get valuable insights from our speakers, which helps to increase local and regional capacity to adapt to coastal change—a necessity, given the current and future flooding risks.”

The Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum is the result of a collective effort by Virginia Sea Grant (VASG), ODU, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission to bring participants together to share and learn about climate adaptation information.