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
January 31, 2018- Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is pleased to announce a competitive funding opportunity for citizen science projects. All USFS units and partners are invited to apply for up to $25,000/project.
The CitSci Fund is a collaborative approach to resource management - each project will have one USFS Project Lead and one Partner Project Lead, and demonstrate how volunteers are meaningfully involved. The CitSci Fund directly supports Chief Tony Tooke's National Priority #3: Promoting shared stewardship by increasing partnerships and volunteerism.
Project applications are due January 31, 2018 by 11:59 pm ET
For questions, email: FSCCS@fs.fed.us
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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 16, 2017- Should Branford Create a Coastal Commission?
One suggestion for updating Branford's Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) includes forming a permanent town board or commission to deal with coastal issues and climate change.
The possibility was mentioned at a meeting of the POCD Steering Committee Wednesday, and it's included in Booklet 4C, which is part of the POCD materials available on the town's website.
Wednesday's meeting, which was held at 4:30 p.m. at the Canoe Brook Senior Center, focused on conservation issues. About 35 people attended, including members of various boards and commissions who made suggestions about conservation strategies
Although some coastal issues were included in the 2008 POCD, there was no separate section about strategies. The need to focus on coastal and climate issues came to the forefront at a public planning session in December. Branford 's coastline from Short Beach to Stony Creek is over 20 miles long and is a significant force in its economy and housing stock.
Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics, the consulting firm hired to oversee the POCD updating process, talked about coastal concerns Wednesday.
"The challenge is how to address the numerous issues that exist," Chalder said, adding that a group could be formed to specifically deal with coastal and climate concerns.
He outlined possible new strategies for the 2018 POCD that could include protecting coastal resources; maintaining and enhancing coastal access; and establishing a framework for addressing sea level rise. (See top photo) Chalder also suggested adding the town's Resiliency Plans into the POCD.
Bill Horne, a member of the Steering Committee, said that based on current projections, Connecticut towns should prepare for a 20-inch rise in sea level by the year 2050. That recommendation was made in October 2017 by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA).
Shirley McCarthy, chair of the Community Forrest Commission, suggested the commission be notified early in the process when there are new or revised site development plans.
Dan Fitzgerald, chair of the Conservation/Environmental Commission, said there is a real need to address issues of sea level rise, and salt marsh conservation.
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Local & State News Clips
January 22, 2018- Trump Spurs Environmental Fears For State
A flood of changes to federal environmental law by the Trump administration is raising alarms among environmentalists and worry over the impact on clean air and water, toxic sites and coastal areas.
Building standards designed to protect homes, railways and infrastructure from storms are being eliminated or rewritten. The environmental review process for large projects is being "streamlined," leaving less space and time for exhaustive review.
Obama-era prohibitions on offshore oil drilling in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean have been lifted, opening the possibility of dangerous oil rigs off the New York or Massachusetts coast.
Clean air rules for coal-fired power plants and water regulations protecting small streams are being scrapped
"We are seeing a slew of maligned measures taken by (Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt) that decimate environmental protections," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "He has undercut enforcement by reducing staff and resources. He has corrupted the process as much as the policies have."
Under Pruitt, EPA has cut its funding by 40 percent, resulting in a 50 percent reduction in its workforce.
The New York Times recently reported that during the first nine months of Pruitt's leadership, the EPA began about one-third fewer enforcement cases than President Barack Obama's initial EPA director.
The agency sought about 39 percent of the civil penalties for pollution and other violations than during the same period under the Obama administration and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period, the Times reported.
"It's all about politics and campaign contributions and the effect of special interests," Blumenthal said. "Failing to enforce means violators are not held accountable. It's a matter of life and death. It's making people in Connecticut have to breathe foul air or endure the effects of climate change."
Chris Collibee, a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the agency is deeply concerned about Trump's rollback of environmental regulations.
January 18, 2018- Ice Chokes Connecticut River in Haddam, Causing "Emergency Condition
Ice dams and flooding pose a danger to Haddam residents, the town's top elected official said, prompting her to declare that an "emergency condition" exists in the riverside town.
First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo made the emergency declaration Thursday. The proclamation will be forwarded to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in hopes he will proclaim that the town is in a state of emergency so the town may get state and federal assistance for any damage.
"The First Selectman has declared that an emergency condition exists throughout the said Town...It has now been found that local resources are unable to cope with the effects of said emergency," according to a copy of the declaration on the town's Facebook page.
State police at the Troop F barracks in Westbrook said Thursday morning that they were not aware of any emergencies, such as serious flooding or injuries, in Haddam.
The town has now drawn attention as did Kent, where a boarding school and roads were flooded by the Naugatuck River this week. The ice dams have attracted national attention.
In Haddam, where the Connecticut River narrows and a steel swing bridge spans the 881 feet separating its banks, jagged slabs of ice lie atop each other like broken teeth in need of orthodontia, paralyzing the river and rendering it a silent, craggy tundra.
South of the East Haddam Bridge is open water. North of the bridge is an icy chokehold.
"I don't think it's ice - I think it's rock!" shouted Bruce Jackson's grandson, who was clambering over a sedan-sized shard near the Haddam bank. Jackson, of Newington, had brought his two grandsons down to Haddam to see the rugged ice formations on a snow day.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime sight," Jackson said. "I've lived in Connecticut all my life, and I've never seen this. It's amazing how strong Mother Nature can be."
Haddam's crystallized stretch of river was perhaps the most dramatic of Wednesday's weather, which turned out to be less severe than most forecasters had predicted. The National Weather Service downgraded its earlier winter storm warning to an advisory early Wednesday, citing snow totals that were lower than expected.
National News Clips
Cinematographer Dave Harp and I are longtime collaborators on Chesapeake projects and knew what we'd find when we began working on this film. The great estuary's 11,000 miles of tidal shoreline have been eroding for centuries as wind and wave and ice take their toll. But now there's a new ballgame. Emerging climate science has documented an ominous acceleration of the sea level rise that gradually formed the Chesapeake over thousands of years. The latest projections for the Chesapeake region are two feet or more of sea level rise by mid-century, and as much as six feet by century's end. That's a troubling combination of higher water and sinking land around the bay.
Dave and I have focused our cameras on my old stomping grounds, Dorchester County on Maryland's Eastern Shore, a place where the future is well underway. "Water moves us" is the county's tourism slogan, both apt and ironic. It's been called "Maryland's Everglades" - a wonderland of water and wetlands, tidal creeks and wooded swamps and islands, nurturing an abundance of seafood and wildlife, and home to historic fishing communities and the internationally-known Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. With its hundreds of thousands of acres of land, Dorchester ranks fourth largest among Maryland's 23 counties; but it will shrink to 14th by 2100 as nearly half the county turns to open water.
To most people, the word "tide" has only vague import - high and low, flooding and ebbing. But "tide" in Dorchester is rich with meaning: school bus schedules and shopping trips revolve around it; emergency responders reposition ambulances; and property owners truck in soil on which to park their cars, grow vegetable gardens, and install septic tanks.
In the southern portions of the county you can easier come by a bushel of crabs than a wheelbarrow load of dirt, observed Mike Draper, a recent homebuyer near the tiny settlement of Crocheron. We filmed as he jacked his house 7 feet in the air and built a low dike around the yard, while his son, Dan, prepared to fish tasty blue crabs from the tidal ditch along their road frontage.
But while you can raise a house if you've got the money (it cost Draper about $38,000 including the new foundation), you can't raise the long, lonely marsh roadways serving residents throughout the lower-lying half of Dorchester. At least you can't raise them easily. Dorchester has roads where the pavement is up to 5 feet thick-layer after layer applied, a couple inches at a time, as the road slowly sinks.
Continue and Watch the Video...
January 15, 2018- Annapolis Sea-Level Rise, Historic Protection Plan Still In The Pipeline
Before she left her post, former chief of cultural preservation Lisa Craig spent four years making a plan.
The result, Craig and the Weather It Together team's Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan, is a comprehensive roadmap for protecting Annapolis' historic landmarks and assets against imminent sea-level rise. The plan calls for a greater public understanding of flood risk areas and vulnerabilities, an active building resilience protocol, a disaster response and recovery plan and an alignment that would protect the city's historic and natural assets when lawmakers craft land use, economic, environmental and regulatory policy.
It also targets funding for public improvements and incentives for private parties to invest in flooding adaptations to buildings.
Craig left her job with the city in December, leaving the plan with Planning and Zoning Director Pete Gutwald to finish. After years of crafting and months of editing, the plan is almost ready to go public - though with a few adjustments to Craig's last draft.
Plans for past events and a dedicated resiliency officer will likely fall out before it goes before the City Council.
"We're moving it forward," Gutwald said. "We have to. We're hoping to follow right on the coattails of (Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Simmons) and (Deputy Director David Mandell)."
The City Council on Jan. 8 moved to suspend regular parliamentary rules and pass the city's Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, an emergency preparedness plan required to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, which Simmons and Mandell presented.
The two plans were supposed to come to the floor at the same time, Gutwald said, but with the administration change and Craig's departure, planning and zoning staff needed more time to brief new lawmakers. The cultural hazard mitigation plan is not as time sensitive as the natural hazard mitigation plan, so the city felt comfortable extending the timeline, Gutwald said.
January 11, 2018- Disaster Mitigation Targeted by Trump Saves $6 for Every $1 Spent, Report Says
Federal programs to protect Americans against extreme weather and other natural disasters save even more money than previously thought, according to a report funded by the same agencies that have proposed cutting many of those programs.
The report, released Thursday by the National Institute of Building Sciences, found that every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems or strengthening buildings against earthquakes, reduces future costs by an average of $6. That's higher than the 4-to-1 savings the institute last estimated in 2005; the increase reflects the growing effects of climate change as well as better data and measurement, according to the group.
"Invest properly in mitigation, you're going to get your money back -- regardless of what your beliefs in climate change are," Bryan Koon, chairman of the institute's Multihazard Mitigation Council, which prepared the report, said in an interview.
Trump's first budget request called for cutting many of the programs designed to protect Americans from the effects of climate change. He and some of his cabinet members have questioned the science of global warming, rolling back many of the programs and regulations established by President Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
January 10, 2018- As Storms Get Bigger, Oyster Reefs Can Help Protect Shorelines
Two hundred years ago, the streets of lower Manhattan were lined with "
," rough-and-ready establishments hawking all-you-can-eat oysters for six cents. In those days, the floor of New York Harbor was covered in oyster reefs, making the bivalve a cheap and plentiful snack for the underclass of the rapidly growing city.
Flash forward to the early 21st century, and pollution and overharvesting have all but killed off New York oysters. Then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy hits. The storm surge floods lower Manhattan, submerging the streets once home to the oyster cellars, causing $65 billion in damage.
But if the waters surrounding Manhattan had still been thick with oysters, the damage might not have been so severe. And if we bring them back, experts say, we might better protect our coastlines from future storms, which are likely to be worse because of climate change. These experts are calling for a rebuilding of oyster reefs in coastal areas around the country. And people - private property owners, businesses, the military - are listening.
"Oyster reefs protect shorelines from wave erosion naturally," says Antonio Rodriguez, a professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Before their enormous decline in abundance - we have lost about 80 percent of oyster reef habitat over the last 100 years - they were much more common along estuarine shorelines."
January 9, 2018- Congress's 'Watchdog' Agency Urges Federal Response On Costly Impacts
The warnings were there in terms that are readily understood - dollars and cents.
The Government Accountability Office reported that the costs to address the after-affects of extreme weather, fire, and other factors related to climate change are likely to increase beyond the $350 billion spent in the last decade. The independent and nonpartisan congressional agency recommended that the Executive Office of the President "identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses."
Not long after that fall report, Moody's Investor Service
that it is adjusting its criteria to make climate change risk an important factor in weighing the credit worthiness of the cities and states it rates.
If the Trump administration was listening, there's no sign it's backed off moves in the opposite direction. The administration appears committed to doing away with an Obama administration requirement that climate change risk be considered for federally funded projects. In December, Trump's first National Security Strategy did not include climate change as a key threat, as earlier versions had. And the National Defense Strategy, scheduled for release in January, is expected to remove mentions of climate change.
Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut who has served on the International Panel on Climate Change and on the National Climate Assessment, said he is "not at all" surprised by the findings in the GAO report.
"He does not include projections of future climate in any of his decisions," Yohe said of President Trump. "So he's going to make some really big mistakes. He's going to put infrastructure and rebuild roads in places that have been damaged by extreme weather and it's going to happen again."
Yohe joins others saying it's time to re-think how we assess risk by switching from the common actuarial norm of what's happened in the past to risk management - assessing future scenarios that include projected climate change effects.
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).