CIRCA in the News
Local and State News Clips
CIRCA Blog: Sea Level Rise in Connecticut: Planning for 20 in / 50 cm in 2050
By Rebecca A. French, Ph.D., CIRCA Director of Community Engagement
On October 19, 2017, CIRCA released an Executive Summary of its locally updated sea-level rise scenarios and recommendations on how Connecticut should adapt to the mean sea level changes projected in a 2012 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report (Parris et al, CPO-1 Report, 2012):
"We recommend that planning anticipates that sea level will be 0.5 m (1ft 8 inches) higher than the national tidal datum in Long Island Sound by 2050. It is likely that sea level will continue to increase after 2050. We recommend that global mean sea level measurements and projections be monitored and new assessments be provided to towns at decadal intervals to ensure that planning be informed by the best available science."(O'Donnell, Executive Summary, 2017)
It is important to note that the 20 in/50 cm planning level is
a prediction of the expected sea level increase by 2050, as has been reported in some recent newspaper articles. Rather,
20 in/50 cm characterizes the upper end of the range of values projected using several different simulation approaches and local tide gauge data sets
. Together with the 10-year review, this is a prudent approach to providing planning guidance in a changing world.
On the CIRCA website (https://circa.uconn.edu/) the public can find the Executive Summary of the report and a 30-minute presentation by the report's author and CIRCA Executive Director, Professor James O'Donnell. It provides a more in-depth explanation of his analyses and conclusions. The presentation shows how NOAA's low, intermediate-low, intermediate and high global sea level rise projections were updated for Connecticut, and measurements from tide gauges in Long Island Sound were employed to create the recommendations.
More information can be found on our website or by contacting CIRCA staff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 12, 2018- 12th Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources in Storrs, CT
*Call for Presentations, Posters, and Workshops- Submission Deadline is February 14, 2018*
Many Resources, One Environment was the sentiment of the first Connecticut Conference on
Natural Resources (CCNR) and continues today. This year we will highlight Coastal
Highlights at the upcoming meeting include 1- Plenary by Eric Eckl, founder of Water Words that
Work, and 2- Keynote by David Gallo, oceanographer and top TED talk presenter.
We encourage submissions related to all natural resources topics. This year we will have
two workshop sessions by Water Words that Work on Changing the Subject about climate
science, and anticipate sessions on the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, the Connecticut Institute
for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, environmental education, as well as themes of Coastal
Resiliency and Climate Change, Coastal subaqueous soils, Environmental Education, Fish and
Wildlife Species and Habitat Management, Invasive Species, Long Island Sound/Coastal Zone
Issues, Mapping (GIS) Data and Applications, and Water Resources (Quantity, Quality,
Stormwater, Road Salt). Please indicate if your submission aligns well with either of these
themes. Please note that all presenters should register and pay for the conference.
Presentations will be in McHugh Hall (formerly Laurel Hall) next to the Student Union. As in past years, lunch tickets at Union Street Market in the Student Union are provided with registration.
You may submit for one of the following formats:
- 15-minute presentation (includes questions)
- 1.5 hour workshop or activity that features audience participation
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING ABSTRACTS
Send email to
Subject line should read: Abstract Submission
Attach a word document with following information in this order:
1. Presenter's name, affiliation, address, phone, and email
2. Presenter and all co-authors and affiliations as should appear in schedule
3. Presentation title (60 character limit, including spaces)
4. Indicate preference for presentation, poster display, or workshop
5. Indicate if abstract fits anticipated concurrent session theme
6. 250 word abstract
Body of email may contain correspondence with conference organizers if needed.
Submission deadline is 14 February 2018
Deadline to submit abstracts: February 14, 2018
Notification of contributed paper/poster acceptance: February 26, 2018
Early registration deadline: March 7, 2017
Questions about abstract submission, organizing a workshop, or sponsoring the conference
should be directed to
Jack Clausen at email@example.com or 860-486- 0139
March 17, 2018 - Connecticut Land Conservation Conference
Saturday - March 17, 2018
8:30am - 5:00pm, followed by reception
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Preparations are underway for CLCC's 2018 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference - a full day of educational workshops and peer-to-peer networking for those interested in land conservation, followed by an informal reception with friends and colleagues from across the state.
CIRCA Presenting Workshop
C.3 Climate Adaptation in Coastal Connecticut
Living shorelines are a climate adaptation strategy that provides coastal habitat while also mitigating flooding or erosion. This workshop will present guidance for land trusts when considering the creation of a living shoreline on their property as well as case studies of living shorelines designed for land trusts in Connecticut.
Rebecca A French, Director of Community Engagement, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA)
Kimberly Bradley, Living Shorelines Project Specialist, CIRCA
Schedule at a Glance
7:30 am - Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 am - Plenary Session:
10:00 am - Break
10:30 am - Workshop Session A (90-minutes)
12:00 pm - Lunch
1:15 pm - Workshop Session B (75-minutes)
2:30 pm - Break
2:45 pm - Workshop Session C (75-minutes)
4:00 pm - Break
4:15 pm - Workshop Session D (45-minutes)
5:00 pm - Reception
Travel grants available for the "Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference," on April 30-May 2, 2018, Manchester, NH
Travel grants are available for municipal employees, elected or appointed municipal decision-makers, county government employees, regional planning council personnel, and other local decision-makers for "Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference," April 30-May 2, 2018, Manchester, NH.
For more information and to apply for a travel grant click here
NFWF Resilient Communities Program- Pre-proposals due February 15, 2018
NFWF Issues RFP for National Resilient Communities Program
Deadline: February 15, 2018 (Pre-proposals)
In 2017, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation<
>, in partnership with Wells Fargo, launched the Resilient Communities Program, designed to prepare for future environmental challenges by enhancing community capacity to plan and implement resiliency projects and improve the protections afforded by natural ecosystems by investing in green infrastructure and other measures. The program focuses on water quality and quantity declines, forest health concerns, and sea level rise and emphasizes community inclusion and assistance to traditionally underserved populations in vulnerable areas.
This four-year initiative is supported through a $10 million contribution from Wells Fargo that will be used to leverage other private and public funds with an expected total investment of more than $20 million.
For the 2018 round of applications, Resilient Communities grants will emphasize the interconnectedness of natural systems and community well-being by using wetlands, coastal habitats, and other ecosystems to alleviate future floods, storm events, and sea level rise in eastern states; sustaining water quantity and quality through enhanced natural infrastructure in the central United States; and conserving healthy forests, managing wildfire, fuels and restoring habitats for healthy forest ecosystems in western states.
Priority will be given to high-impact resiliency adaptations to help communities prepare for fire in the American West, floods and droughts in the Midwest, and sea-level rise on the Eastern Seaboard; and to community demonstration and capacity-building projects that help communities understand environmental risks and opportunities and organize and take actions to improve local resiliency by enhancing natural buffers and system functions.
Approximately $1.5 million is available in 2018. Grants will range between $200,000 and $500,000.
Pre-proposals must be received no later than February 15, 2018. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit full applications by May 10, 2018.
Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, local governments, and Indian tribes.
For complete program g
uidelines, to apply and application instructions, visit the NFWF website.
NOAA 2018 Coastal Resilience Grants
NOAA intends to award up to $15 million to support coastal resilience grants that benefit coastal ecosystems and communities. Coastal Resilience Grants support efforts to prepare coastal communities and ecosystems to withstand the impacts of extreme weather and climate-related hazards, which in turn makes our nation safer and our economy more secure.
The FY2017 Coastal Resilience Grants competition included two focus areas-strengthening coastal communities and habitat restoration. In FY2018, new project proposals are being solicited for projects that build resilience through habitat restoration. For the part of the program focused on strengthening coastal communities, NOAA will select proposals from the high-scoring projects submitted but not funded during the FY2017 competition.
The FY2018 Federal Funding Opportunity is accessible through Grants.gov (available on their website), with
mandatory pre-proposals due March 7, 2018
. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, private (for-profit) entities, institutions of higher education, regional organizations, and local, state, and tribal governments. Each proposal may request between $75,000 and $2 million in federal funds.
For additional information and to apply click here
CIRCA in the News
January 25, 2018- New Sea Level Projections Affecting Local Shoreline Communities
Please note that CIRCA does
state "expect 50 cm of sea level rise by 2050." On the CIRCA website and the sea level rise scenarios Executive Summary, CIRCA recommended that communities
20 inches or 50 centimeters of sea level rise by 2050 as the upper end of the range of values projected using several different simulation approaches and local tide gauge data sets. These projections are shown in the graph in the WFSB report. Please see the
CIRCA Blog: Sea Level Rise in Connecticut: Planning for 20 in/50 cm by 2050
for more details.
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Local & State News Clips
February 2, 2018- New Haven Moves To Combat Climate Change
Mayor Toni Harp and various environmental leaders joined together to introduce a new climate and sustainability plan for New Haven on Thursday afternoon.
Citing federal attacks on climate change and environmental protections, leaders in New Haven announced the new Climate and Sustainability Framework at a City Hall press conference. By 2030, the city aims to reduce emissions by 55 percent from the amount recorded in 2001 - a 10 percent increase on Connecticut's 45 percent reduction goal, which was outlined in a Governor's Council on Climate Change meeting on Jan. 19.
In January 2016, the New Haven Climate Movement asked the city to update the 2004 Climate Action Plan. Now, two years later, staff including City Engineer Giovanni Zinn '05, Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen '04 and Engineering Project Manager Dawn Henning worked with a large group of interns, local climate specialists and grass-roots organization members to create a vision for a climate plan.
"[Climate change] poses a grim risk now," Harp said at the event. "It is not some ill-defined, future event."
Harp also noted that because New Haven is a coastal community, it has "more to lose" than other municipalities. She said the report represents a "call to action" for not just the government and businesses, but for all members of the New Haven community. Still, she said, New Haven has been "ahead of the curve" with initiatives related to sustainable transportation, renewable energy adoption and resilient infrastructure.
The framework, which is publically available online, lists 97 different actions in six areas: electric power, buildings, transportation, materials management, land use and green infrastructure, as well as food. But Zinn noted that the climate framework would be useless without a mechanism to track the city's efforts.
January 24, 2018- New London, Groton Eye Recognition in Sustainability Program
Maybe your town wants to knock down its energy bills to save taxpayers money. Maybe it needs to revamp recycling programs or assess vulnerabilities in a changing climate. Maybe it hopes to improve sidewalks and bike paths, or boost arts and culture.
Maybe your local leaders haven't considered these or other sustainability measures yet, but they might if they had more time, funding, administrative support or tips from other towns.
, a voluntary statewide certification program, hope to help municipalities navigate these efforts, which they describe as marketable to families and young people, while providing bottom-line benefits to towns and school districts.
"There's something for every town, no matter who you are," said Jess LeClair of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, which is helping manage the program. "The goal is to help towns become more efficient, safer, resilient and thriving."
Launched statewide at the Connecticut Council of Municipalities'
in November, Sustainable CT provides towns, cities and school districts with a roadmap on a range of sustainability actions.
Towns seeking certification through the program's online action checklist can market their accomplishments, share insight with other areas and take advantage of the program's logistical support to target and apply for state, federal and nonprofit grants.
"We're a small state with small towns," LeClair told a few dozen residents and municipal leaders at a local launch and information session Wednesday night at Connecticut College. "It makes sense to work together."
The more than 50 actions towns can implement to earn Sustainable CT certification run the gamut of environmental and economic initiatives. Goals include improved transportation; infrastructure; planning; community development; housing; historical preservation; waste management; energy consumption; watershed management; tourism and more.
National News Clips
February 4, 2018- Florida Keys To Raise Roads Before Climate Change Puts Them Underwater. It Won't Be Cheap
One started a Facebook page to document the flooding: Key Largo Community Swamp.
That was the fall of 2015, courtesy of freak weather and high tides. Neighbors have clamored for solutions since, and Monroe County has finally pitched a potential fix. Officials want to elevate the lowest, most flood-prone road in the Twin Lakes Community of Key Largo and in the low-lying Sands neighborhood of Big Pine Key, 70 miles south - and 2018 might be the year it happens. The county will start accepting design proposals in the coming weeks, and money for construction could be available in October.
It's a small but significant project - it will be the first road project in the Keys specifically designed for adaptation to future sea level rise, a clear and present problem for the famous chain of islands. The county has already spent $10 million on road projects that include elevation, and plans to spend at least $7 million more in the near future. But these are the first to include collecting, pumping and treating the stormwater that runs off the newly raised road.
These small stretches of road
are test cases for the county. Monroe hopes to use lessons learned here on the rest of the roads that climate change will swamp in the years to come. Out of 300 total miles of county roads, half are susceptible to sea level rise in the next 20 years, said Rhonda Haag, the county's sustainability program manager.
For comparison, the county spent $3.3 million repairing about two miles of road in Lake Surprise Estates in Key Largo. That was a less ambitious fix that rebuilt some parts, elevated others and included more limited drainage additions.
This new project is nothing like the county has done before, said Haag. It's "like comparing oranges to apples."
Elevating is pricier than repairing a regular chunk of road because the process entails much more than just pouring extra asphalt on top. All that water from incoming tides has to go somewhere, and handling it requires building new structures like pumps and pipes.
"In the Keys we don't have drainage infrastructure," said Haag. "Basically it's blacktop on the road."
The unique geography of the Keys plays a big part in why drainage solutions common in other areas won't work on the South Florida islands. Underneath the dirt on each island is porous limestone rock. Sometimes, when water levels get high, that sponge-like rock is filled with groundwater. It can degrade the materials used to form the base of the roads and crack asphalt.
February 2, 2018- Most Voters Want Stronger Federal Flood Defenses- Survey
Most U.S. voters support policies requiring that taxpayer-financed infrastructure projects in flood-prone areas be built to better withstand the impacts of flooding, according to new polling from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Moreover, researchers found that most residents in seven storm-affected states also strongly support implementing stronger flood protection requirements.
"The message from this poll is clear: The American public supports improved flood policies, and that sentiment holds across political party and geographic lines," Laura Lightbody, Pew's director of flood-prepared communities, said of the
The poll, conducted by the research firm Public Opinion Strategies for Pew, is based on telephone surveys of 800 registered U.S. voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with a 3.5-point margin of error.
Additionally, 252 interviews were conducted with voters in communities affected by hurricanes and storms that led to flooding, including people in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. Responses from the "storm-affected counties" sample had a 6.5-point margin of error, according to Public Opinion Strategies.
The survey findings come amid a continued stalemate in Congress over how to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which has operated in the red for more than 12 years after payouts from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 exceeded the program's revenues, derived mainly from premiums.
Meanwhile, experts have said payouts from the 2017 hurricane season could deepen the program's debt crisis - from $24 billion to as much as $40 billion - as claims continue to be processed from Texas, Florida and other states.
Congress this week took up new legislative efforts to address NFIP reforms. The program was due to be reauthorized late last year and has been extended under several continuing resolutions, with the latest deadline for reauthorization coming on Feb. 8.
The Trump administration has also made major changes to U.S. flood protection policy, including last summer's executive order rescinding an Obama administration rule requiring that federally funded infrastructure projects factor for a variety of flood risks, including building at least 2 feet above the 100-year floodplain.
January 31, 2018- Tabasco's Homeland Fights for Survival in Louisiana Against Storms and Rising Seas
The McIlhenny family fortune is hidden in barrels black with age, encrusted with salt and draped in cobwebs. They sit in a warehouse, stacked six-high in rows of 150 or more. Fiery peppers and a salty brine are aging inside the barrels, turning into one of the world's most popular hot sauces: Tabasco.
"This is the way it's always been done," said Harold "Took" Osborn, company vice president and great-great grandson of the company's founder, Edmund McIlhenny. Quality control consultants fret about the appearance of the barrels. Can't they look more modern, more sterile, more befitting of a big-time food company with exports to 187 countries?
"They say, 'Terrible. Get rid of it.' But it's what makes us special. It's how we've made Tabasco here for 150 years," Osborn said.
A giant wave nearly swept it all away. In 2005, Category-3
blew in from the Gulf of Mexico, grabbed hold of Vermilion Bay and pushed it into Avery Island, home base of the McIlhenny Co. since 1868.
"This was just one big lake," said Osborn, outside the warehouse. "There were barrels floating around. And the water kept rising. There was panic."
The 2,200-acre island - actually more of a hill surrounded by bayou and marsh in southern Iberia Parish - was an ideal spot to establish a lasting business. Rising 163 feet above sea level, Avery is one of the highest points on the U.S. Gulf coast. While the Gulf has always raged with hurricanes, Avery was at a safe remove. Not anymore.
Like most of south Louisiana, coastal land around Avery is
disappearing at a rapid pace
. The marsh protecting the island is losing about 30 feet per year. Saltwater is seeping into the marshes, killing freshwater plants and causing soil to loosen and dissolve. Nearby ship canals grow busier and wider, hastening erosion. Storms are more frequent and hit with more force.
The land is sinking as well. Subsidence drops the Louisiana coast by nearly an inch per year. Combine that with the global phenomenon of rising sea levels, and it won't be long before Avery is a true island surrounded by an increasingly turbulent sea.
January 30, 2018- The Rise of Cities and States in Fighting Climate Change: Key Takeaways From the 2017 United Nations Climate Conference
Two years ago, the world came together in Paris to pass an international agreement that sought to limit the most disastrous effects of climate change. The historic nature of this "Paris Agreement" cannot be overstated. It took a long time for countries to agree climate change was a problem worth addressing and many failed attempts at turning that acknowledgment into something many diverse nations could agree to. Two years after Paris, every country on Earth has now signed the agreement and publicly pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would avert climate disaster. Unfortunately, progress by national governments in passing the necessary policies to actually meet their pledges has been slow.
The rhetoric isn't turning into reality and time is running out.
Weak commitments by national governments in meeting their Paris Agreement targets has led cities, states, and other "subnational actors" to take policymaking into their own hands in the fight against climate change. Last November's United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany highlighted this geopolitical shift. As Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center and Professor from Practice at Georgetown Law, who has been to many negotiations over the years, put it to me, "this was the most important conference for subnational actors in the 25-year history of international climate negotiations."
Professor Arroyo and the Georgetown Climate Center led a bipartisan delegation of 11 U.S. states, which included four governors, state legislators, and heads of state environmental and energy agencies to Bonn. It was the largest delegation of U.S. states to ever attend the annual climate talks. The Center and its partners also sponsored several side events at multiple venues. At one such event, the Center announced new developments in its "Transportation and Climate Initiative" with eight Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. The initiative will launch listening sessions to seek state-based policy solutions to "create the clean transportation system that the region needs to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges." As Arroyo put it, "because of the presence of leading states, cities, and businesses, we were able to change the narrative despite the actions of the Trump Administration. The presence of subnational actors sent an inspiring message around the world that the U.S. is still committed. That made a big difference and is helping to move the process forward."
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January 29, 2018, Phil Murphy Reverses Christie and Brings Jersey Back into Climate Change Pact
Reversing yet another policy of predecessor
on Monday announced he's returning New Jersey to a regional pact designed to fight climate change.
"Leaving RGGI, as it is called by most, made us an outlier in our own neighborhood," Murphy said during a news conference at the SeaStreak ferry in Highlands. "It signaled a retreat from a comprehensive and collaborate effort to curb the carbon emissions that contributed to climate change."
"It was a decision that, frankly, lacked any common sense," he added about Christie's 2012 move to pull New Jersey out of the pact.
Under RGGI, power plant operators have credits for the amount of carbon dioxide that they emit. The power plant operators buy the carbon credits at quarterly auctions.
The proceeds from the auctions are used to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects throughout the member states.
Christie explained that he pulled New Jersey out of RGGI because it was "not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future." Christie also argued that the program led to increased energy costs for New Jersey residents.
But Murphy -- who was sworn in Jan. 16 to succeed Christie -- said that while New Jersey had long been a model for environmental policy, the state "lost that part of our soul" under his predecessor the last eight years.
The new governor argued that returning to RGGI was needed because New Jersey is a coastal state that's vulnerable to climate change -- especially just five years removed from Hurricane Sandy.
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).