June 28, 2018- CIRCA Receives Award for CT Coastal Resilience Planning
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) recently announced a contract awarding just over $8 million to UConn from the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) for administration of a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDR). UConn submitted a proposal to DOH in June 2017 for the project, "Development of the Connecticut Connections Coastal Resilience Plan" (C3RP).
CIRCA, with the support from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will use this $8 million NDR award to develop the C3RP. The planning process will involve extensive public input and coordination with state agencies and regional Councils of Governments and municipalities.
Through these partnerships, CIRCA will develop a resilience planning framework and assessments, develop implementation plans, assess flood risk, evaluate adaptation options, and engage stakeholders in New Haven and Fairfield counties to address vulnerabilities to future climate change and sea level rise. The C3RP project will run through May 2022 and will extend activities from an initial 2016 award from HUD to implement pilot projects in Bridgeport. This 2016 award led to a vulnerability assessment that includes maps of flood risk and social vulnerability and a conceptual resilience framework for the Connecticut coast. More on these products can be found here:
. In addition to the recent $8 million award to UConn CIRCA, additional funding will go to continue the pilot projects in Bridgeport.
In their announcement of this $8 million award, HUD highlighted the priority to "extend the existing planning effort to more communities in New Haven and Fairfield Counties with the goal of providing accessible downscaled inland and coastal flooding information at the watershed scale for inland and coastal municipalities." When referring to the C3RP specifically, HUD said the award would "support the State's efforts to bring these approaches to other at-risk communities along the I-95 corridor by contributing to planning efforts, including economic and climate modeling."
The mission of CIRCA is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment. To learn more about CIRCA, visit
For more information contact: James O'Donnell,
To apply for the new positions being hired to support this work see:
CIRCA in the News
Senate Bill No. 7, Public Act No. 18-82 AN ACT CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE PLANNING AND RESILIENCY.
June 20, 2018- Governor Malloy Bill Signing Ceremony For Legislation Concerning Climate Change & CT's Energy Future
CIRCA's Executive Director, Dr. James O'Donnell went to the Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, CT on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 to speak about CIRCA's Sea Level Rise in Connecticut report and witness Governor Malloy sign Public Act No. 18-82, "An Act Concerning Climate Change Planning and Resiliency" and Public Act 18-50, "An Act Concerning Connecticut's Energy Future." Click on the following links for more information.
Substitute Senate Bill No. 9, Public Act No. 18-50 AN ACT CONCERNING CONNECTICUT'S ENERGY FUTURE.
Local & State News Clips
June 23, 2018- Critics: Trump's Ocean Policy Bad for Coastal States Like Connecticut
President Donald Trump's order last week to refocus the National Ocean Plan on creating jobs - and eliminating references to climate change - is drawing outrage and hand wringing from environmentalists.
"Repeal of the National Ocean Policy is a massive giveaway to Big Oil and polluters at the expense of coastal states like Connecticut," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
With the stroke of a pen, Trump erased the ocean plan put in place by former President Barrack Obama and created a new one focused on jobs, offshore drilling, economics and national security.
"Ocean industries employ millions of Americans and support a strong national economy," Trump said in an executive order creating the new plan.
"Domestic energy production from Federal waters strengthens the Nation's security and reduces reliance on imported energy," the order notes.
The new plan makes no mention of climate change or rising sea levels, and removes previous references to biodiversity and conservation.
John Mandelman, chief scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, said stripping science from the ocean plan will hurt America in the long run.
"Science-based decision-making is the best way to ensure that we use our ocean resources in a way that provides economic and environmental benefits to all Americans for generations to come, rather than just provide a short-lived economic benefit that is likely to have significant and often unanticipated consequences," Mandelman said.
Obama's ocean plan, written in 2010 after the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon spill dumped 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, listed 10 policy priorities aimed at preserving or understanding the environment.
Only two of Trump's seven priorities mention the environment or sustainability - and both include references to the economy.
Obama's plan noted that "America's stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes is intrinsically linked to environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental changes, social justice, international diplomacy, and national and homeland security."
June 20, 2018- Bill Would Help Create Living Shorelines
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and others in the Senate have introduced the Living Shorelines Act, legislation that would create a new grant program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for nature-based shoreline protection projects known as living shorelines.
Living shorelines are a type of green infrastructure that protect and stabilize coastal edges by using natural materials such as plants, sand, shell, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other artificial structure, which impedes the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines can grow over time, allowing them to adapt to changing conditions. Using green and natural infrastructure, communities can create a buffer that mitigates the impacts of shoreline flooding by reducing wave energy and decreasing erosion. Green infrastructure is cost-effective and can also provide benefits such as improved local water quality and ecology.
Murphy held a listening session on the legislation in Essex on Friday.
"Preserving the shorelines of Long Island Sound is critical to Connecticut's economy. Coastal resiliency projects like building marshes or restoring wetlands protect our coast and help the environment. The Living Shorelines Act will help towns fund projects to fortify against future storms and rising sea levels, while improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat," Murphy said in a press release. "This bill will help rejuvenate big stretches of our coast that communities across the state rely on."
June 20, 2018- Malloy Signs Clean Energy and Climate Bills
HARTFORD - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday signed a pair of bills that establish higher Greenhouse gas reduction standards, restrict some coastal development and increase the amount of clean energy coming into the state.
"The time to act is now," Malloy said before signing a package of climate change and energy bills passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.
"The effects of climate change, which is unquestionably man-made, can be felt in Connecticut and poses a threat to our residents," Malloy said.
The new laws adopt a Greenhouse gas emissions target of 45 percent below 2001 levels by 2030 and require that future coastal projects, either undertaken by a state agency or funded by a state or federal grant or loan, take into account a projected sea rise of two feet by 2050.
The new law also mandates that 40 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 and creates a new flat rate for solar power - a move opponents say is a nod to electric companies.
Under the current net metering pricing system for solar power, homeowners and businesses receive a credit on their electric bill for excess power produced by their system.
Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the new laws are designed to combat climate change and create clean energy jobs.
"While the current federal administration continues to deny human induced climate change as real, it is incumbent upon states to take action," Klee said.
"For the sake of future generations to follow, I encourage other states to look at what we have done as a state and follow our lead," Klee said.
June 19, 2018- Sen. Murphy Introduces Bill to Spur Living Shoreline Project
- Federal funding for projects that protect shorelines using natural materials and environmentally friendly designs could soon be available to coastal communities through legislation introduced June 19 by Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Meeting on June 15 with about 75 representatives of various coastal interests - from beach associations to state agencies to environmental groups - Murphy said the Living Shorelines Act he would introduce four days later would provide $25 million in grants to help build living shoreline projects. Such projects help make shorelines more resilient in the face of rising sea levels and intensifying coastal storms that put thousands of homes at risk, he said.
"This legislation will build off the great work already being done in Connecticut and elsewhere," said Murphy, speaking to the gathering in the boathouse at the Connecticut River Museum.
Living shoreline projects use shellfish beds, marsh and wetland restoration, plantings and stone sills that mimic natural habitats to buffer shorelines. They are considered environmentally preferable alternatives to sea walls and other hard structures that degrade wildlife habitat and can worsen erosion of adjoining shoreline areas. Unlike artificial structures, living shorelines allow for the growth of plants and animals that can adapt to changing conditions, creating a buffer that softens wave energy, while also reducing erosion.
"This grant program will support states and municipalities and non-professionals engaged in green infrastructure that buffers shorelines along oceans and rivers," said Murphy.
June 14, 2018- Citing Climate Change, Gov. Malloy Issues Order Declaring State Water Supply A 'Public Trust'
Dannel P. Malloy
issued an executive order Wednesday to put into effect a new state water management plan, including a controversial provision declaring Connecticut's water to be "a public trust" that had blocked legislative approval of the plan.
State Water Plan
is a critically important initiative that puts the needs of Connecticut families ahead of commercial interests of private water utility companies and big businesses," Malloy said in issuing the order.
"We should all be able to agree that water is a precious resource that should be protected for the public's interest and safeguarded for future generations in the event of emergencies," the governor said in a prepared statement.
Malloy's executive order requires a water management plan will provide protection "at a time when regulations, climate and economic conditions are changing." The plan would "balance the use of water to meet all needs" of state residents.
National News Clips
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June 18, 2018- Coastal Real Estate Worth Billions at Risk of Chronic Flooding as Sea Level Rises
Most people check out Zillow, a popular online real estate app, for information on how many beds and baths a house includes, or the quality of local schools, or how long a home has been on the market.
But climate experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) saw Zillow as just the kind of big data needed to better inform assessments of the risks of flooding to properties around the nation's rim. And looking at the app through that screen, they have turned up some troubling visions.
Property losses in the United States could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars unless rapid action is taken to bring climate change under control, they warned in
a study released
The owners of more than 150,000 existing homes and commercial properties, worth $63 billion, could find their assets at risk from repeated flooding in the coming 15 years. That risk could double by 2045.
"This is, of course, homes that are often people's single biggest assets," said Rachel Cleetus of the UCS. "This is about entire communities that might find much of the property in their community gets inundated, and that might affect their community tax base."
By the end of the century, if seas rise by 6.6 feet-a high, but not worst-case projection in the 2017 National Climate Assessment-the damage could be staggering.
More and more houses will be hit by more and more floods, some so frequently that they are essentially not fit to live in.
June 18, 2018- Newburyport Plans Public Session on Resiliency Efforts
NEWBURYPORT - The city and region are dealing with the growing threat of climate change, with Newburyport officials and a group of residents working together to map out a plan and bring more people into the discussion.
On June 28 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall Auditorium, the city will hold a public listening session to present highlights of a new report and to hear comments on the results of a full-day municipal vulnerability preparedness, or MVP, workshop held April 7.
The goal of the workshop was to identify hazards Newburyport faces that may be made worse by climate change, and to prioritize what the city can do to prepare for the hazards.
The workshop was planned and led by a core team of local officials, city residents and an environmental consulting company, Horsley Witten Group. The program was funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs through an MVP planning grant issued to the city.
One result of the project is MVP certification, which gives communities access to additional state grants for projects related to climate change resiliency. At the public listening session, the city will present the results of the workshop and ask for public comment and questions.
During the workshop, participants concluded the most relevant hazards to Newburyport were storms, including nor'easters, winter storms and hurricanes; bipolar weather, including extreme heat, extreme cold and drought; inland flooding; and sea-level rise.
The group identified seven "action items," which will be incorporated into the city's planning efforts and provided to the Resiliency Committee.
June 15, 2018- Hilltown Voices: Plainfield Gets Climate Change Resiliency Grant
PLAINFIELD - On May 29, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $2 million in grant funding to 82 towns and cities across the Commonwealth to complete climate change vulnerability assessments, and develop climate change resiliency plans through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program.
As one of the grant recipients, Plainfield was awarded $25,000.
"I think it is very important to take advantage of this program," Select Board Chairman Howard Bronstein said as he was on his way to a meeting on climate change with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Kathleen Theoharides, assistant secretary of climate change for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in Holyoke on Thursday.
"Once we go through this vulnerability assessment program, then we will be eligible for grant money to help implement ways to mitigate the effects of climate change," Bronstein said.
The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program provides support for cities and towns to begin to identify areas in which climate change is affecting them, and to prioritize mitigation projects, or "action-oriented resiliency plans" that will effectively address those issues.
June 11, 2018- Map Monday: Climate-Smart Cities New Orleans
Temperatures and sea levels are rising. These trends should be of particular interest to cities, where dense populations, darker surfaces, and reduced green space lead to higher temperatures and lower water drainage capacity than in surrounding regions. Forward-thinking city administrations are taking action now to identify their most at-risk communities and bolster infrastructure to promote public safety.
One such initiative comes from the Trust for Public Land's Climate-Smart Cities program, which partners with cities to create parks in areas lacking green space. Low-income neighborhoods are often hit hardest by climate changes, as insufficient green spaces combined with lower financial means leave their populations at greater risk of intense heat or flooding. In New Orleans, the Climate-Smart Cities program harnesses data from city hall, the federal government, and area non-profits to create detailed GIS maps that help decisionmakers develop effective and equitable park projects. Using this map, officials have aimed to improve New Orleans' resistance to environmental stresses through four strategies: cool, connect, absorb, and protect.
New Orleans' subtropical climate makes for hot summers, creating health risks from dehydration to heat stroke. Using GIS mapping, New Orleans city officials can track average temperatures across the city and identify daytime hotspots using data from landsat satellites. They can use this information to strategically situate parks and vegetation in priority areas, keeping residents cool by providing shade and reducing the urban heat island effect through carbon dioxide absorption.
The map also contains detailed transit information, ranging from bus stop data to pedestrian safety across the city. Among a host of other benefits, improvements to transportation infrastructure could reduce energy use, further mitigating high city temperatures.
Understanding the modes by which New Orleanians connect to essential services and to one another-and placing this information within the context of crucial environmental indicators-may help spur improvements to public transit services and trail systems that improve local conditions as well as residents' ability to cope with unsafe conditions.
June 12, 2018- Hot Streak: U.S. Sets Records for Warmest 3, 4, and 5-Year Periods
With May 2018 ranking as the warmest such month on record in the continental U.S., beating out the Dust Bowl May of 1934, the country has extended a much longer heat streak.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the country has had
its warmest 3-year, 4-year, and 5-year periods
on record through May 2018.
Why it matters: The unusually mild temperatures are one way that global warming is affecting the U.S., as long-term temperatures trend higher. Even if individual months fail to break a heat record, such as April 2018, the long-term trend is clear.
What they found:
Recently released NOAA data
show that May 2018 was 5.21 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average in the U.S., taking the top spot.
Every state in the lower 48 had above average temperatures for the month, and eight states set monthly records.
During the month, there were more than 8,590 daily warm temperature records set or tied, compared to just 460 daily cold temperature records during the same period.
The NOAA report also shows that the past 36 months, from June 2015 through May 2018, had a temperature anomaly of 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average, qualifying as the warmest 36-month period since reliable instrument records began in 1895.
The past 48 months, from June 2014 through May 2018, have also been the warmest such period on record.
The same is true for the past 60 months, dating back to June 2013.
The big picture: The report, a summary of temperature statistics and rankings through May, does not attribute the temperature trends to global warming or any other causes, but the consistency of the record warmth is in line with expectations from the
record amounts of greenhouse gases
in the air.
Globally, the past few years have been some of the hottest years on record, as long-term climate change has combined with natural climate phenomena, such as El Niño, to produce record-shattering temperatures. The year 2016 was the warmest on record, and 2018 is expected to be
another top 5 warmest year
June 2, 2018- Flooding And Rising Seas Threaten America's Oldest Farmland
Bob Fitzgerald lives on the edge of a flat field that's just a few feet above sea level. It's the same spot on Maryland's Eastern Shore where his ancestors settled before the U.S. became a country.
"The land grant came into the family in 1666," he says.
When he was a child his parents grew tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans. Now nearing 80, Fitzgerald plants corn and soybeans to supply local chicken farms.
This area is some of the oldest farmland in America. But the land here is sinking, and as the climate warms, sea levels are rising. Fitzgerald says a tidal creek that runs alongside his fields is flooding more. Just the other day the water in one section of his land was higher than he'd ever seen it.
"It looked like a lake," he says. "You could not see a piece of grass sticking up, the tide was that high."
Fitzgerald shows me a small dirt berm he built to keep water out. But the floods spill over it probably once a month now. So far, he says, the saltwater has killed 15 acres of his soybean crop. In its place are bare patches of soil and a wall of tall, feathery phragmites, an invasive plant common in wetlands.
"I mean, I have actually thought about having dirt hauled in just to build this up another 6 inches or something, just to hold it off," he says. But he's not sure it's worth it.
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).