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 email@example.com.
March 12, 2018- 12th Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources in Storrs, CT
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.
Questions about abstract submission, organizing a workshop, or sponsoring the conference
should be directed to
Jack Clausen at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
April 20, 2018 - Paris, Policy and The Grid: The Future of Transnational Energy Policy, UConn CEEL event
Friday, April 20, 2018 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
The Paris Agreement brought nearly two hundred countries together to pledge their national efforts to combat climate change. Less than two years later, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from this agreement. Please join the Center for Energy & Environmental Law and the Connecticut Journal of International Law for a symposium devoted to the international, national, and regional impacts of this new global reality on energy policy, grid stability, and renewables.
Our day will include distinguished keynote addresses from Commissioner Richard Glick of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate and Energy Practice.
Our panels will focus on the changing face of international energy policy, how national policies are adapting to the new Paris reality, and the impact on New England and the rest of the United States. Panelists are drawn from diverse perspectives and include Commissioner Robert Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, international and national academics and practitioners in energy law, and industry representatives.
Our day will conclude with a networking reception.
This event is free for students, faculty, and staff; $40 for practitioners and other guests.
Eligible for Connecticut CLE credit.
If you require reasonable accommodations for a disability, please contact the Law School at 860-570-5130 or via email at
at least two weeks in advance.
April 30, May 1, and May 2- 2018 Local Solutions: Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference
Antioch University New England and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are hosting the 2018 Local Solutions: Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference on April 30, May 1 and May 2nd 2018 at The Manchester Downtown Hotel in Manchester, NH.
Thanks to the engagement of more than 500 participants from Washington, D.C. to Maine, the first Local Solutions conference in May 2014 in Manchester NH was a great success. Our second conference in April 2016 in Baltimore MD continued to draw participants across the eastern U.S. to successfully deliver interactive capacity building sessions on all aspects of preparing for severe weather and climate change impacts in the United States. See our Conferences page for more information on the past two conferences.
For this third conference, we will cover a range of climate preparedness and resiliency issues such as: sea level rise, urban heat, and both coastal and inland flooding issues. The conference is geared for small government planners and decision-makers striving to create healthy resilient communities that are better able to handle severe weather and climate impacts. The current methodologies, protocols and policies inherent in planning and budgeting at the community level are not always adequate for the recent onslaught of climate impacts.
This conference guides local government planners on how to make climate resilience an aspect of their daily operations. The conference will be organized with the help of a diverse and dedicated Steering Committee, which will include members from state and federal agencies, non-profits and academic institutions from around the eastern United States.
Christa Daniels for Registration & Hotel questions
Antioch Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience
Back to Announcements
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
CIRCA in the News
February 28, 2018- New England Grid Operators, Regulators Combat Vulnerabilities
Norwich - Grid operators at ISO New England's control room in Holyoke, Mass., watch the region wake up in real time, as people turn on their kitchen lights, coffeemakers and ovens, illuminating data points on hundreds of screens showing the rise in electricity use.
"You can think of ISO as the air traffic controller for the power grid," Eric Johnson, ISO New England's director of external affairs, told a group of business and energy leaders Wednesday at a Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut meeting in Norwich. "Our job is to make sure that we have resources online to meet all the changes in demand throughout the day."
ISO New England and regulators say that job is becoming more challenging quickly, as the grid faces an unprecedented blend of vulnerabilities.
Johnson and Rob Klee, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner, painted a picture of a grid under siege from climate change, cyberthreats, potential closures of major generators and a growing reliance on natural gas despite no new major pipeline projects in the works.
"Last year, almost half of the electricity in New England came from natural gas, up from about 15 percent in 2000," Johnson said. "There's a physical limit on how much gas can flow through the pipes ... and most of the gas-fired power plants are idle in wintertime."
The region's increased reliance on natural gas coincides with the decline of aging oil and coal plants. But a recent ISO New England study shows reliability problems are heightened in winter, when natural gas pipelines are constrained.
More than a third of the region's electricity comes from nuclear power, Johnson said. A premature Millstone Power Station retirement would hamstring the grid severely, according to regulators and ISO New England.
Some advocates and analysts point to a lack of rolling blackouts as evidence that infrastructure is stronger than ISO New England has
. Some environmental groups also are pushing for much heavier investments in renewables rather than new gas pipelines.
Johnson noted ISO New England, which also manages the wholesale energy market, is an independent group with no financial ties to energy companies and a neutral stance on resources and technology.
"Some folks like that," he said. "Some folks like that a little bit less."
Asked about the danger of physical or cyberattacks to the grid, Johnson noted the Massachusetts headquarters is physically secure with limited access.
ISO New England recently established a dedicated team monitoring a "cyber perimeter" 24/7, he said. The group shares cyberattack information with other ISOs and the FBI, when necessary. The system is not Internet-based; it is a private and encrypted network, Johnson said.
Johnson and Klee noted that despite severe challenges, the grid is trending cleaner and more efficient.
New England states annually have invested $1 billion combined in energy efficiency, translating to New Englanders using less electricity in the years to come.
Johnson highlighted several transmission projects that could inject hydropower into the grid from Canada. He also noted a big boost in active and proposed
and wind projects throughout New England.
"In January of 2010, we had about 40 megawatts of solar systemwide," Johnson said. "But there was policy direction to support solar. As of the end of last year, we had almost 2,400 megawatts."
Wind power projects seeking connections to the grid outnumbered natural gas proposals for the first time last year, totaling about 8,500 megawatts of new power.
Klee said Connecticut is in a coalition of 17 states that realize "we need to invest time, energy and resources" to combat climate change.
"Seawater and substations don't mix," Klee said, noting Connecticut had critical infrastructure "within a foot of being impacted" during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. "We feel climate change in this community ... this new normal of dramatic weather events and extreme rainfall punctuated by long periods of drought. Our infrastructure was never built to handle that kind of fluctuation."
DEEP's recently updated
Comprehensive Energy Strategy
and bills from Gov. Dannel Malloy include aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The state is pushing for utilities to buy 40 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2030, Klee said.
The state also is seeking bids for offshore wind, fuel cell and anaerobic digestion projects.
Local & State News Clips
February 20, 2018- Team of Architects, Engineers, Designers, And Urban Planners To Design Coastal Resilience For Bridgeport, Connecticut
), Arcadis (EURONEXT:ARCAD), Waggonner & Ball, and Yale Urban Design Workshop today announced their selection to design resilience measures to minimize flood risk and account for sea level rise affecting Bridgeport's South End businesses and residents.
The project, one of 13 awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is part of the $1B National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), an initiative to help communities recover from disasters and safeguard against future hazards.
The Connecticut Department of Housing hired this multidisciplinary team to design climate change and flood resilience plans to reduce risk from future impacts resulting from rising sea levels.
Recent storms have left streets flooded for days, forcing residents to leave Bridgeport for necessities such as food and clothing. Storm impacts have also weakened the community's infrastructure while hindering economic growth.
The coalition will plan and design resilience strategies to reconnect communities to the water, create new uses for the city's waterfront, foster new development, and revitalize a community sitting five minutes from downtown Bridgeport. WSP will be responsible for project management, public outreach, civil and geotechnical engineering, and environmental assessments. Arcadis will undertake numerical modeling and design of coastal flood risk reduction structures and interior drainage solutions, environmental assessments, and support stakeholder and community engagement. Waggonner & Ball, in collaboration with Yale Urban Design Workshop, will lead architecture, urban design, and coordinate landscape architecture, as well as support public engagement.
Design features will include a combination of floodwalls, raised corridors, embankments, interior drainage improvements, and green infrastructure, all integrated with Bridgeport's South End. The project includes the continuation of a Rebuild by Design pilot project, a $6.5M stormwater system designed by Arcadis, Waggonner & Ball, and Yale Urban Design Workshop, with Reed Hilderbrand. The pilot includes a 2.5-acre stormwater park integrated into the urban fabric to store and manage rainfall runoff while relieving combined sewer system overflows. The park also will enhance recreation opportunities in the neighborhood.
February 19, 2018- Report Card On Coastal Health Ranks Sound's Shoreline Habitats As 'Fair'
A group of federal and Connecticut scientists have rated the overall health of the Long Island Sound's coastal habitats in Connecticut as "fair" in a new report based on scores measuring their size, connectivity, resilience and species diversity.
The report is the first of its kind compiling several measurements to make a collective judgment about the quality of the health of Connecticut's coastal forests, tidal wetlands, eelgrass habitats, rivers and embayments from Greenwich to Stonington, said Georgia Basso, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and one of the authors of the study.
"No one's ever looked across the entire Connecticut coastline and given these habitats a quantitative score," Basso said.
Along with researchers from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the University of Connecticut and Connecticut Sea Grant, Basso created a rubric that assessed how big each habitat is, how connected they are to each other and other metrics measuring the health of the ecosystem.
"We track all the restoration projects throughout the Sound," said Mark Tedesco, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound Office. "It's also important to note how conditions generally within these habitats are changing - are they improving, are they getting worse?"
The coastal habitats along the Connecticut shore ranked a 27 out of 100 overall, though the health of the coastal forests, tidal wetlands and eelgrass habitats earned lower scores that the researchers ranked "poor."
A habitat with a score of between 50 and 75 would have ranked "good" on the scale the researchers developed, and a score of higher than 75 would have earned a "very good" ranking.
Basso said the scores and rankings will provide a baseline assessment of the coastline that scientists, residents and policymakers can compare to similar assessments in the future and know how the various metrics are changing.
National News Clips
March 1, 2018- As Climate Change Intensifies, Here Are The Most-and Least-Resilient Counties in America
Kodiak Island Borough is a remote community of around 14,000 people that spreads down the coast of the Alaska Peninsula and across 16 islands. It sits downwind from a cluster of active volcanoes, and its six villages are accessible only by boat or plane. It is home to 3,500 oversized bears.
It is also one of the safest places to live in the United States-at least when it comes to climate change. A recent
of America's 3,135 counties concluded that this inhospitable stretch of land is the most climate-resilient place in the entire nation.
, current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, may question the very reality of man-made global warming, but from 2015-17, EPA scientists were mapping out in extraordinary detail how communities around the U.S. will cope with its consequences, including droughts, hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.
The results shed light on the vast inequalities in how different parts of the U.S. will deal with such hazards. While places like Kodiak Island are expected to fare well, residents of areas like Appalachia, the southeast, and western Texas are on course to suffer far worse than the average American.
These findings were contained in a 317-page
that was released without fanfare in October of last year. EPA scientists had set to work on the tool, called the Climate Resilience Screening Index, under the previous administration. By ranking regions, states, and counties across the U.S., they hoped to reveal which areas need to boost their resilience most urgently-and to prompt local and national governments to act accordingly.
Still, the EPA resilience report isn't just about extreme weather events, but also about how factors like inequality, ethnicity, and infrastructure affect a community's ability to deal with and recover from such events when they do occur.
Assessing that ability requires looking beyond data sets about the Earth's atmosphere and geophysics, and focusing as well on indicators not typically included in discussions of climate change. The EPA scientists behind the CRSI calculated resilience as a combination of five characteristics-risk, governance, society, built environment, and natural environment-based on 117 data sets.
February 27, 2018- New Report Touts Success Of Regional Carbon Emissions Reduction Program
A New England carbon emissions reduction program could generate more than $7 billion by 2030 for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy, according to a new report,
released Monday by a national environmental advocacy group.
Environment America, in collaboration with the left-leaning think tank, Frontier Group, analyzed the economic impact of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, also known as RGGI.
RGGI is a 10-year-old program where power plant companies in New England, Maryland, Delaware and New York have to buy allowances to emit carbon pollution. It also places a cap on carbon emissions that reduces by a small percentage each year.
Analysts multiplied the price of these allowances by each state's expected carbon emissions for each year up until 2030. They estimate the program could generate $7.3 billion for member states.
"(The report) signifies tremendous progress on one of the most important challenges of our time," Andrea McGimsey, co-author and senior director for global warming solutions for Environment America, said.
"The money can be invested by the states in more energy efficiency and turbo charging the clean energy revolution."
Since 2008, RGGI has raised more than $2.78 billion for participating states. More than $1 billion have been invested into energy efficiency improvements, such as home insulation to reduce heating bills, and $270 million have been put into clean and renewable energy.
February 24, 2018- Fortified But Still In Peril, New Orleans Braces For Its Future: Our Drowning Coast
Burnell Cotlon lost everything in Hurricane Katrina -- "just like everyone else," he said.
When the flawed floodwall bordering his neighborhood in the Lower 9th Ward gave way in August 2005, the waters burst through with explosive force that pushed his home off its foundations and down the street. What was left: rubble, mud and mold.
Not far from his rebuilt home stands a rebuilt floodwall, taller and more solidly anchored in its levee than the old one. On the other side of that lies the canal whose storm-swollen waters toppled the old wall, letting Lake Pontchartrain spill into the neighborhood and then sit, more than 10 feet deep, for weeks on end. As an added shield, an enormous gate closes the canal off from the lake when storms approach. Similar gates can secure the city's other major canals. In all, federal, state and local governments spent more than $20 billion on the 350 miles of levees, floodwalls, gates and pumps that now encircle New Orleans.
"I hope and pray that the money was well spent and it is a decent system," said Cotlon, who opened the first grocery store in the still-recovering neighborhood in 2014.
This year, New Orleans celebrates its 300th birthday. Whether it will see 400 is no sure thing.
As Jean Lafitte and other vulnerable little towns that fringe the bayous plead for some small measure of salvation, New Orleans today is a fortress city, equipped with the best environmental protection it has ever had -- probably the strongest, in fact, that any American city has ever had. Yet even the system's creators have conceded that it may not be strong enough.
The problem, in the argot of flood protection, is that the Army Corps of Engineers designed the new system to protect against the storms that would cause a "100-year" flood -- a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. And that, experts say, is simply insufficient for an urban area certain to face more powerful storms.
"All along we knew that 100-year was somewhat voodoo math," said Garret Graves, a Republican congressman from Louisiana and former chairman of the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Indeed, the corps has stopped calling its handiwork a hurricane protection system, opting instead for the more modest hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system.
How that came to be is a story of money and politics and, perhaps, a degree of Louisiana fatalism. In simplest terms, though, it comes down to a mismatch between limited resources and limitless amounts of water.
February 24, 2018- Our Drowning Coast: Left To Louisiana's Tides, Jean Lafitte Fights For Time
JEAN LAFITTE -- From a Cessna flying 4,000 feet above Louisiana's coast, what strikes you first is how much is already lost. Northward from the Gulf, slivers of barrier island give way to the open water of Barataria Bay as it billows toward an inevitable merger with Little Lake, its name now a lie. Ever-widening bayous course through what were once dense wetlands, and a cross-stitch of oil field canals stamp the marsh like Chinese characters.
Saltwater intrusion, the result of subsidence, sea-level rise and erosion, has killed off the live oaks and bald cypress.
Stands of roseau cane and native grasses have been reduced to brown pulp
by feral hogs, orange-fanged nutria and a voracious aphid-like invader from Asia. A relentless succession of hurricanes and tropical storms -- three last season alone -- has accelerated the decay. In all, more than 2,000 square miles, an expanse larger than the state of Delaware, have disappeared since 1932.
Out toward the horizon, a fishing village appears on a fingerling of land, tenuously gripping the banks of a bending bayou. It sits defenseless, all but surrounded by encroaching basins of water. Just two miles north is the jagged tip of a fortresslike levee, a primary line of defense for New Orleans, whose skyline looms in the distance. Everything south of that 14-foot wall of demarcation, including the gritty little town of Jean Lafitte, has effectively been left to the tides.
Jean Lafitte may be just a pinprick on the map, but it is also a harbinger of an uncertain future. As climate change contributes to rising sea levels, threatening to submerge land from Miami to Bangladesh, the question for Lafitte, as for many coastal areas across the globe, is less whether it will succumb than when -- and to what degree scarce public resources should be invested in artificially extending its life.
February 23, 2018- 'Cities Aren't Going To Wait': Mayors Drive Action On Climate Change
BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Whether grappling with rising sea levels, drought or floods, mayors of cities worldwide are increasingly on the frontline of efforts to help communities prepare better for the impacts of climate change as it hikes the risk of disasters.
With cities home to over half the world's population and producing more than 80 percent of global economic output, mayors are also driving climate action by adopting renewable energy and cleaner methods of transport.
Jenny Durkan, mayor of the U.S. city of Seattle, said U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to walk away from the Paris Agreement, a global pact to curb climate change, and his support for fossil fuels have prompted city leaders to step up.
"Mayors have been galvanised in America, and now will be taking more unified steps than perhaps they would have been when they had to rely on federal partners," Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.
"Our federal government unfortunately has completely backed away from all their commitments (on climate change) ... so the leadership on this front has to come from state and local government," she added.
Seattle, a port city with low-lying areas, already faces worsening flood risk due to higher seas and more frequent torrential rains, exacerbated by global warming, Durkan said.
"Climate change is huge for us. We've had extreme weather conditions shifting," she said."Cities are not going to wait."
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).