- CIRCA is hiring! We are looking for a Project Coordinator to help us manage a variety of resilience and adaptation projects across Connecticut. Applications will be accepted through August 25, 2016. Apply for the position.
In the News
- August 14, 2016 - Boston Is Preparing A Plan To Cope With Climate Change, PRI
- August 12, 2016 - America's Latest 500-Year Rainstorm Is Underway Right Now In Louisiana, Pacific Standard
- August 11, 2016 - Living Shorelines Improve Biodiversity - Study, Climate Wire
- August 10, 2016 - Watch Your Coastal Property. Here Comes The Sea, Bloomberg
- August 9, 2016 - New Flood Maps Could Save You Money But..., Coastal Review Online
- August 3, 2016 - Bid To Extend California's Climate Change Fight In Jeopardy, Capital Public Radio
The Georgetown Climate Center is proud to announce a new partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN). The two organizations are hosting a local government network on the Adaptation Clearinghouse
to make it easy to find adaptation plans, assessments, and other documents needed to help communities prepare for climate change impacts.
USDN members and many others are already starting to use the site, which is full of great resources - so click the link below and join this online network today!
Become a member of the local government professionals network.
Participation is free and will enable you to view resources rated highly by other local governments professionals
The Earth's climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events - like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures - are already happening. Many of these observed changes are linked to the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, caused by human activities.
EPA partners with more than 40 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to compile a key set of indicators related to the causes and effects of climate change. The indicators are published in EPA's report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, available on this website and in print.
CAFM seeks a broad range of professionals to address the many issues and problems associated with managing flood risk, making communities more sustainable, and protecting floodplain and fragile natural resources. This conference will examine the challenges facing Connecticut, and share experiences and lessons learned as flood managers and municipal officials.
Last year, presenters covered a broad range of riverine and coastal topics, including dam operation, insurance requirements and changes, hazard and mitigation planning, and FEMA administrative processes for changing flood boundaries. We encourage you to share your knowledge with Connecticut's flood management community.
We look forward to hearing your flood management presentation! We are accepting presentations in lengths of 15, 25 and 50 minutes. Please submit the following to us:
- Abstract of your presentation
- Presentation length in minutes
Forward these materials to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 31, 2016. Proposers will be notified by September 7, 2016
September 9, 2016 - GC3 Lunchtime Webinar
featuring Jessica Bacher and Joshua Galperin, Principal
Land Use Collaborative
The Collaborative is a new project that brings together the students, faculty, and staff of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, with the expertise and experience of the Land Use Law Center at Haub Law School at Pace University in order to address the sustainability needs of local governments in Connecticut and across the United States. The Collaborative is dedicated to supporting municipal governments, non-profit organizations, and other entities that have use for leadership training, research, education, or technical assistance related to sustainable land use. The Collaborative is an opportunity to educate students by engaging them with real-world projects that drive real and lasting environmental progress.
In the webinar, participants will learn about how local governments, with their power to plan and regulate land use, are a critical ally of state and federal governments in the race to mitigate climate change. They have always been laboratories for experimentation-crucibles of change-from the time that New York City invented the comprehensive zoning ordinance through a host of celebrated land use movements: post-Euclidean zoning, growth management, the advent of local environmental law, and smart growth. Presenters will discuss models for greening public and private buildings, reducing vehicular travel, preserving undisturbed lands for sequestration, and fostering wind and solar power. Join us to hear how global leaders have begun to realize the role of local governments and bottom up approaches and the benefits of urbanization as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change.
September 15, 2016 - Living Shorelines III: A Design Charrette
- Teams made up of workshop participants will design a living shoreline for the on-site beach/dune, bluff or tidal wetland system at Harkness Memorial State Park. The designs will be presented and critiqued from a regulatory perspective by a panel of municipal, state and federal officials. The goal of this charrette is for participants to gain a better understanding of living shoreline designs and what will and will not be permitted in Connecticut. The event is sponsored by the Climate Adaptation Academy (UConn CLEAR and Connecticut Sea Grant).
The Charrette will take place rain or shine. Please bring umbrellas/rain gear depending on the weather forecast.
Packets of on-site information will be provided to each team, with each team collecting a minimal amount of field data for their ecological system.
The cost is $25 and includes coffee/tea and lunch.
WHEN: 8:00 - 4:00PM
WHERE: Harkness Memorial State Park, 275 Great Neck Road, Waterford, CT
CIRCA is excited to announce funding through its Municipal Resilience Grant Program! Up to $200,000 will be made available for projects that advance resilience and that emphasize implementation (including the creation of conceptual design, construction, or the design of resilience enhancing practices and policies). Municipal governments and councils of governments are eligible to apply. Proposals must review and consider integration of CIRCA's research products in the application. Information on CIRCA's research products will be made available on the grant program webpage. The minimum award will be $20,000; applicants are allowed to apply for the full $200,000. Project proposals should develop knowledge or experience that is transferable to multiple locations in Connecticut and have well-defined and measurable goals. Applications are due November 1, 2016. Questions can be sent to
September 15, 2016
MRGP webinar on CIRCA Information on Flood Risks. Participating in the webinar or reviewing the recording is a
requirement for applicants
Local & State News Clips
Back to News Clips
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) - Heavy rainfall caused serious problems in
including one of the city's schools.
Mayor Drew said the water was so heavy.
"Water was so heavy that it flooded WWMS through the HVAC system. Our dispatch center antenna was hit by lightning. We have crews out making repairs to everything now. The antenna is fine (because they're designed to withstand direct hits) and the school system is bringing in a cleaning crew tonight to clear water so we don't get mold."
Students are expected to return to school for the first day of classes on September 1st.
National News Clips
As a port city with low-lying areas, Boston, Massachusetts is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise that is expected to occur due to global warming. So, the city's mayor, Marty Walsh, is taking action now: He has commissioned a team of experts, called Climate Ready Boston, to report on how climate change will affect the city in coming years.
"The city has been working on climate change adaptation and mitigation for a while," says UMass Boston Professor and hydrologist Ellen Douglas, who is part of the team. "But in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City, it made a lot of people in Boston realize that we dodged a bullet and that we need to make sure that we're prepared for an event like that."
Climate Ready Boston
is composed of about twenty people from a variety of disciplines and institutions, including oceanographers, climatologists, meteorologists hydrologists, engineers, atmospheric scientists, climate scientists and economists.
"We had people who work in consulting firms; we had people from Harvard and Northeastern and Boston University - all the local universities. It was really quite exciting and very educational to work with all these people," Douglas says.
By mid-century, Boston should expect to see between six inches to a foot of sea level rise, Douglas says. Towards the end of the century, that figure could be as high as four to seven feet. Ten feet is the maximum estimate.
By mid-morning on Friday, more than a foot of rain had fallen near Kentwood, Louisiana,
in just a 12-hour stretch
a downpour with an estimated likelihood of just once every 500 years, and roughly three months' worth of rainfall during a typical hurricane season. It's the latest in a string of exceptionally rare rainstorms that are stretching the definition of "extreme" weather. It's exactly the sort of rainstorm
that's occurring more frequently
as the planet warms.
In response to the ongoing heavy rains, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a statewide state of emergency on Friday, and local governments are
, and facilitating
. The New Orleans Times-Picayune is maintaining
a live blog
of the latest developments. The Tickfaw River north of New Orleans soared
18 feet in about 12 hours
to a new record crest on Friday morning,
beating the water level of April 1983
, and five feet higher than the high-water mark during Hurricane Isaac in 2012, the last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana.
Meanwhile, a lot more rain is still on the way. High-resolution weather models
an additional one or two feet of rain by Saturday evening, a total the local National Weather Service referred to as "
." The NWS has issued
its highest alert
for excessive rain and
"significant to catastrophic flash flooding." A "flash flood emergency"
is in effect
for the hardest-hit regions, a warning reserved only for the direst and most life-threatening events.
A study that looked at the effects of various coastal protection strategies found that "living shorelines" host more biodiversity than traditional sea walls or other hardened infrastructure.
The finding could help many coastal communities as they consider how to protect themselves from sea-level rise cause by rising global temperatures.
Many coastal conservation and restoration practitioners have been advocating for nature-based strategies or living shorelines for some time, said Rachel Gittman, a postdoctoral research associate at Northeastern University's Marine Science Center and the lead author of the study, which appeared in the journal BioScience.
But there has been relatively little research into the ecological consequences of choosing living shorelines over hard infrastructure. Living shorelines are natural or nature-based structures built to protect communities and infrastructure from extreme storms and flooding, even as they protect habitat.
The paper analyzed 54 existing studies on shoreline hardening. It found that biodiversity was 23 percent lower along shorelines with sea walls compared with other types of shorelines. The analysis also found that organism abundance was 45 percent lower in places with sea walls.
"Basically, anything is typically better than a sea wall," Gittman said. "Anytime you can move to more structurally complex, more natural components, you're getting closer to the natural environment than just building a wall. And that's kind of the point we wanted to make with this paper."
Living shorelines host greater populations of fish and other organisms crucial for shorebirds and for recreation and commercial fisheries, Gittman said. Sea walls, bulkheads and vertical structures with marginal structural complexity don't provide the same habitat for marine organisms as natural shorelines, Gittman said. Breakwaters and riprap - which are often rocky - can provide more biodiversity than sea walls.
An estimated 14 percent of the U.S. coastline is what researchers described as "armored," Gittman found in earlier research. If coastal populations continue to increase, and if "shoreline hardening" continues at the current rate, nearly one-third of the contiguous U.S. coastline could have sea walls or other gray infrastructure by 2100.
The analysis was sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which asked Gittman to look at the effectiveness of natural shorelines compared with hard infrastructure. The work, also supported by the National Science Foundation, is part of Pew's efforts to make U.S. communities more flood-ready and adaptable to climate change.
Sea-level rise means entire regions, not just beachfront towns, will have to adapt, said Shannon Cunniff, who leads the coastal resilience program at the Environmental Defense Fund, which was not associated with the report. She said in an email that Gittman's work demonstrates the ecological values and risk reduction benefits of living shorelines in coastal environments as well as their structural integrity after experiencing an extreme weather event.
"I think there exist exciting and real opportunities to design solutions that serve multiple needs - risk reduction, erosion control, water quality improvement, and habitat improvement," Cunniff said. "Living shorelines are a means to design with nature, bringing together the best of what engineering and ecology have to offer to create solutions that improve human safety, property values, and many of the values that draw us to the coasts."
Gittman and her co-authors argue that it's crucial to understand the ecological effects of such hardening as communities develop sustainable coastal management and climate adaptation strategies. Knowing the value of various shore protection systems will help maintain fisheries and protect property and water quality in coastal communities facing decisions about how to manage sea-level rise, the paper found.
The Army Corps of Engineers is considering adding a new category to its nationwide permits that would allow faster permitting of living shorelines, including wetlands that incorporate sea and marsh grasses, sand dunes, mangroves and coral reefs (
, July 6). If the corps moves forward with the new category, permits to build living shorelines could be issued in as little as 45 days, instead of 215, a spokesman for the agency said last month.
The shift toward more natural coastline protection comes as federal agencies, state governments, and local and business leaders focus on how communities will adapt to climate change. Finding ways to build dynamic systems marks a major shift for agencies like the Army Corps, which in the past paid more attention to sea walls and other so-called gray infrastructure.
Fresh evidence, in a study published today in Scientific Reports, suggests the scientists were right, and that satellite measurements have been distorted by the eruption in 1991 of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
The volcanic eruption, the second-largest of the 20th century, is estimated to have spewed almost 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, lowering global temperatures by about
1 degree Fahrenheit
from 1991 to 1993, as gas and dust particles blocked solar radiation, and causing sea levels to drop. The researchers, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Old Dominion University, used models to calculate the impact of the Pinatubo eruption and found that sea levels fell about six millimeters.
The confusion lies in the timing. The six-millimeter drop took place right after satellite measurements of the sea level began, in 1993, followed by a bounceback in the sea level. From today's vantage, that makes it look like the rate of increase hasn't risen over the past few decades. In fact, it makes it look as if it's fallen. If you take the eruption out, the satellite surveillance would show a clear acceleration in the rate, the researchers conclude.
Many coastal property owners should save money if newly proposed federal flood insurance maps are adopted, but some officials fear that the maps' changes might lead to complacency.
"They're just maps, and people need to realize that lines on paper don't mean there won't be floods," said Donna Creef, director of the planning department in Dare County, where the proposed maps would remove thousands of properties from flood zones altogether and move many others from to lower-danger zones. "Mother Nature doesn't necessarily do what maps and lines say she will do."
Dare has the largest number of rental units and second homes on the ocean and sounds in the state. Changes in the proposed maps, Creef said, would positively affect the insurance rates and or required elevations and flood-proofing of close to 16,000 buildings.
"Obviously, that's a very good thing for a lot of people, homeowners and business owners," she said.
The proposed maps move the 100-year flood zone along the oceanfront significantly landward, Creef said. That will result in lower flood-insurance premiums or remove any requirement for that type of protection. "But we are a little concerned that some people who get moved out of a flood zone altogether might think they no longer need flood insurance," Creef said. "That might be the case, but there's always a margin for error with maps, and again, storms don't always do what the maps indicate they will do."
The proposed maps also lower the base flood elevation, in some areas by almost half. That could allow property owners to enclose and convert to living space areas underneath houses that are on stilts.
The concern, Creef said, is that people might do those kinds of things, or simply not renew flood insurance policies when they expire, then be surprised.
California leaders took victory laps at last week's Democratic convention, touting the state's role fighting climate change.
"We have solar, wind, zero-emission cars, energy efficiency, and yes, a price on carbon," Gov. Jerry Brown told the crowd of delegates in Philadelphia. "We're proving that even with the toughest climate laws in the country, our economy is growing faster than almost any nation in the world."
California's current greenhouse gas reduction mandate is set to expire in 2020. So is the "cap and trade" program the state is using to achieve that goal. And while the Brown administration had been negotiating with the oil industry to address all those questions, those talks have stopped - at least for now.
The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).