- October 21, 2016- What Role Should Climate Risk Play in Insurers' Business Strategies, Environmental Leader
- October 17, 2016- Islands to Lose Fresh Water as Rising Seas Sink Them From Within, New Scientist
- October 17, 2016- Sea Level Rise Upping Ante on 'Sunny Day' Floods, Climate Central
- October 14, 2016- Microgrids Aren't Being Built Fast Enough: Hurricane Matthew, Microgrid Knowledge
- October 12, 2016-
, The New York Times
October 11, 2016
North Carolina's Record Floods: "You Have Got to See it to Believe all the Devastation That Has Occurred,"
As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and severity of droughts are expected to increase across North America - impacting both humans and ecosystems. The Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. are generally considered a well-watered region, but projected changes in temperature and precipitation due to climate change suggest that the region will become more prone to drought in the future. In fact, these changes have already begun to unfold.
EPA Web Portal Helps Communities Prepare for Climate Change
Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X)
is an interactive resource to help local governments effectively deliver services to their communities even as the climate changes. Decision makers can create an integrated package of information tailored specifically to their needs. Once users select areas of interest, they will find information about: the risks posed by climate change to the issues of concern; relevant adaptation strategies; case studies illustrating how other communities have successfully adapted to those risks and tools to replicate their successes; and EPA funding opportunities.
This event is free and open to the public. However, registration is required. To register, click on the link above. If your plans change and you are unable to attend the conference, please let us know by November 2nd by emailing us. In an effort to reduce food waste, we will be ordering breakfast and lunch for registered attendees only.
- Panel I: Challenges and Opportunities for Urban Sustainability: Results from the 2016 National Academy Report Moderator Karen Seto
- Panel II: Building Urban Resilience: How are Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities addressing stresses and preparing for shocks?
- Panel III: Bridging Science and Management to Achieve Sustainability Moderator Virginia Chapman
- Panel IV: Adapting the Connecticut Coast
- In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and more recent projections of sea level rise, the State of Connecticut and its coastal communities have been compelled to reassess patterns of development, placement of infrastructure, storm and flood protection, storm water management, and indeed all the many factors associated with the broad concept of resilience. In particular, the disciplines of planning, architecture and landscape design have had the challenge - but also the opportunity - to reconsider established paradigms and practices. This panel will present perspectives from professionals in all of these fields, who are also currently collaborating on important initiatives and studies throughout the state, but focused on Connecticut's largest city, Bridgeport. We will consider the role of research, policy, politics, funding, design, technology, and community participation in approaching these projects.
The Rockfall Foundation
The Rockfall Foundation invites representatives of non-profit organizations, municipalities, and schools to apply for grants for projects that contribute to the general environmental education of the public, promote environmental planning, contribute to the preservation of the Connecticut River watershed, or fund an internship with a non-profit organization for an environmental project. For the 2016-2017 Grant Cycle, Rockfall will entertain grant applications for amounts ranging from $500 to $15,000. Proposals must have ties to the Lower Connecticut River Valley in order to be considered. This includes projects or programs or applicants based in the area towns. Proposals that focus on the Connecticut River corridor or Long Island Sound will also be considered as long as there is a demonstrated impact on the area towns. Special consideration will be given to projects that impact youth (preschool through college) or are multi-generational.
The FY2016-17 guidelines and application form, as well as additional information about The Rockfall Foundation, are available on the Rockfall website: www.rockfallfoundation.org. The application deadline is 12:00 noon, Wednesday, November 16, 2016; grant awards will be announced and funds distributed early in 2017.
Anyone with questions should contact Tony Marino, Associate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-347-0340.
Applications due November 1, 2016. Applicants can apply for up to $200,000.
CIRCA is excited to announce funding through its Municipal Resilience Grant Program! Up to $200,000 will be made available for projects that advance resilience and that emphasize implementation (including the creation of conceptual design, construction, or the design of resilience enhancing practices and policies). Municipal governments and councils of governments are eligible to apply. Proposals must review and consider integration of CIRCA's research products in the application. Information on CIRCA's research products will be made available on the grant program webpage. The minimum award will be $20,000; applicants are allowed to apply for the full $200,000. Project proposals should develop knowledge or experience that is transferable to multiple locations in Connecticut and have well-defined and measurable goals. Applications are due November 1, 2016.
Local & State News Clips
October 20, 2016- Report: The Hartford, Travelers Taking Climate Change Seriously
Unlike most insurers, who "show an overall lack of focus in addressing climate risks," many insurers based in Connecticut or with major operations in the state, scored highly in a
by a nonprofit advocating for sustainability leadership.
The Hartford, Travelers, Lincoln National, AIG, Munich Re, Prudential, MetLife, Chubb and XL all had comprehensive responses to the surveys, Ceres said.
Ceres analyzed reports submitted by 148 insurers, finding that casualty insurers and reinsurers are taking climate change most seriously. Those insurers have the most exposure to climate risks, the report said.
Of 64 property and casualty insurers, 22 percent are meeting the best practices for enterprise wide climate risk management, and 34 percent are meeting top standards for climate change analytics.
Life and annuity insurers are more indirectly affected, largely in how they treat carbon intensive assets and renewable energy projects in their investment portfolios, the report said. It singled out MetLife and Prudential as leaders in the category.
The report said health insurers do not see climate change as a threat to public health and none produced comprehensive survey answers. Ceres, however, says climate change will affect air quality and could increase the danger of pest-carried diseases
October 16, 2017- John Stoehr: Planning Ahead Worth the Cost
I know. You probably don't want to talk about it. It's boring. It's costly. And seriously, it's playoff season.
But I have to ask: Should we bury the power lines?
I thought about this as Hurricane Matthew ripped through Florida and the Carolinas. Many residents are dealing with flooding and property damage as well as lost power, cable, phone, internet - anything running through overhead lines.
If the hurricane doesn't get you, the power lines might. Some people died in the wake of Hurricane Sandy because they had no power or because of they were electrocuted. Fallen lines also damage property. It was weeks before electricity and other utilities were back to normal, causing many millions in lost wages and business revenue.
I also thought about burying power lines as it became clear Connecticut is suffering from a major drought. Some state officials have never seen rivers and streams at such low levels. Fairfield County has had 35 inches of rain this year, officials say. We haven't been this dry since 1965.
Trees take a beating during droughts. They get weak or sick. When they get weak and sick, they fall. In normal times, 40 percent of all power outages come from fallen trees and tree limbs. But add a major drought, weak and sick trees, and the next Hurricane Matthew - well, these together have the making of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
To make matters worse, the drought has caused an uptick in the number of emerald ash borers. These non-native little green nasties eat ash trees, which are about 10 percent of Connecticut's forests. The more they eat, the weaker trees get. The weaker trees get, the more they fall - and the more frequently homes and businesses face blackouts.
September 6, 2016- NOAA and Sea Grant Fund $800,000 in Research to Understand Effects of Ocean Changes on Iconic Northeast Marine Life
NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) and the Northeast Sea Grant Programs joined together to prioritize and fund new research on how ocean acidification is affecting marine life including lobsters, clams, oysters, mussels and sand lance that are so important to the Northeast region. Funding includes$800,000 in federal funds from the two programs with an additional $400,000 non-federal match.
Hannes Baumann, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Connecticut have received a grant of $198,393 to study the sensitivity of the Northern sand lance to ocean warming, acidification and low oxygen.
Unbeknownst to many visitors to
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
, who marvel at humpback whales, seals, bluefin tuna, and marine birds, most of these animals concentrate in the sanctuary because of sand lance. "Sand lance are a small forage fish that we call the 'backbone of the sanctuary' because they are at the base of the food chain," said Baumann. "Despite their importance to the ecosystem, their sensitivity to climate and ocean change is unknown."
This joint effort is part of a larger focus of the OAP and a number of the 33 state Sea Grant programs across the country that are investing in ocean and coastal acidification research to help coastal communities better adapt to ocean change.
National News Clips
October 21, 2016- What Role Should Climate Risk Play in Insurers' Business Strategies
Insurers are in the business of managing risk. But does this include risks associated with climate change?
A growing number of insurance companies say yes, according to a new report by sustainability advocacy organization Ceres. But most insurers still give climate change risk minimal attention.
Two years ago insurance regulators in five states - California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington - began requiring insurance companies writing in excess of $100 million in premiums to fill out the climate risk survey developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
The Ceres report, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report and Scorecard: 2016 Findings & Recommendations, is based on these disclosures to the NAIC survey and evaluates companies based on five performance areas: governance, climate risk management, the use of catastrophe modeling or other modeling to evaluate and manage risk, greenhouse gas management and stakeholder engagement.
"Since our last report in 2014, the number of insurers receiving high scores has more than doubled - from 9 companies to 22 - and that is welcome news," said Ceres president Mindy Lubber in a statement. "But too many insurance companies are still ignoring the issue, especially when it comes to engaging on climate policies that would reduce the pollution causing climate change in the first place."
October 17, 2016- Islands to Lose Fresh Water as Rising Seas Sink Them From Within
Small island nations are among the countries most at risk from climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to swamp them and make their fresh water salty.
But they face another danger - the rising seas will cause them to lose their fresh water by pushing it above ground, where it gets evaporated.
As seas rise, they not only
lap higher up the beach
; they also raise the level of the groundwater - sometimes above low points on the surface. This can cause existing lakes to expand and new ones to form, which speeds up evaporation.
at the University of South Florida in Tampa wanted to know whether the presence of lakes on such islands would affect the amount of water lost - both for existing lakes that might grow and newly forming ones.
"Lots of work so far has focused on coastal inundation," he says. "But there has been less focus on interior indentations that flood as sea-level rise pushes the water table higher."
Gulley's team used computer simulations of islands similar to those in the southern reaches of the Bahamian archipelago to show that such lake formation reduces groundwater resources more than twice as much as coastal inundation for a given amount of sea-level rise.
October 17, 2016- Sea Level Rise Upping Ante on 'Sunny Day' Floods
Parts of the Atlantic Coast are still recovering from the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew, but even more flooding is on the way as local tides will reach some of their highest points of the year. With little chance to recover between events, coastal cities are facing a constant reminder that climate change has already tipped the scales toward more frequent and bigger floods.
When the earth, moon, and sun are in perfect alignment, gravity pulls the oceans to their highest tides, often afflicting coastal communities with minor or nuisance flooding that can close roads, inundate local businesses, erode beaches and cause sewage overflows. And as global warming accelerates sea level rise, these floods - often called sunny day floods - are increasing; in many locations they're occurring 10 or 20 times a year.
This week, points along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts will be experiencing those highest of high tides - commonly known as king tides. But added to this natural tidal cycle are several inches of water brought on from an unnatural source: us. Rising temperatures over the past century - mostly fueled by our carbon emissions from fossil fuels - have caused sea levels to rise, which has made high tides even higher than they used to be in most places. And with sea level rise accelerating, this week's king tides, and the floods they will deliver, give us a preview of what everyday water levels will soon be like because of global warming.
October 14, 2016- Microgrids Aren't Being Built fast Enough: Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew made a blunt case for microgrids last week as it toppled thousands of electric poles and wires across four states in a cascade that left millions without electricity, some even a week later.
Arriving about a month shy of the four-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Matthew again reminded the U.S. why interconnected grids and storms can be a toxic pair.
Of the larger utilities, Florida Power & Light reported 1.2 million outages at the height of the storm. In the Carolinas, 1.36 million Duke Energy customers lost power as 60 transmission lines and 150 substations failed under the hurricane's onslaught of wind and water. The company struggled through flood waters to repair damage. Georgia Power reported 341,000 outages.
"Hurricane Matthew, and similar storms in the past like Hurricane Sandy, show us that our grid is still vulnerable. And while smart grid technology can reduce and eliminate power outages, when superstorms hit, entire regions are still affected," said David Chiesa,
senior director of global business development.
During such storms, microgrids offer refuge as they electronically island from cascading destruction, basically shutting down their connection to the larger grid to protect themselves. The microgrid then activates its own distributed generators to serve customers within its footprint.
October 12, 2016- The Beach Boondoggle
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Hurricane Matthew was not a megadisaster like Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, but if precedent holds, simply rebuilding the beaches may cost federal taxpayers billions of dollars.
As the storm grazed the Southeast over the weekend, it caused moderate flooding and property damage. The erosion of the beaches, however, was significant. The hurricane eroded beaches and dunes from Vero Beach, Fla., up to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. On Sunday, President Obama announced a "major disaster" in Florida, making the state eligible for additional federal aid.
Data from the United States Geological Survey show that more than half of beaches on the East and Gulf Coasts are eroding. We seem to be to trying to hold every shoreline in place forever by pumping sand onto them, largely at federal expense. But this is folly. As sea-level rise continues, and if storms intensify as predicted, the projects will require more sand, and more dollars. We are going to run out of both.
You may think that taxpayers dodged a bullet after Hurricane Matthew because the damage to roads and buildings was less than expected. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers engineered beaches - in which sand is added to beaches and dunes largely to protect coastal investment property - to be part of the infrastructure of a community. This means that even in places where there has been no property damage at all, taxpayers may still be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars to restore the beaches.
October 11, 2016- North Carolina's Record Floods: "You Have Got to See it to Believe all the Devastation That Has Occurred"
Hurricane Matthew may have wandered out to sea, but the watery mess it left behind in North Carolina keeps getting worse and worse.
The hurricane dumped record amounts of rainfall on the state over the weekend, and floodwaters are still rising as rivers continue to fill up and overtop their banks. These floods have already killed 17 people in North Carolina and left thousands stranded in their homes or on their rooftops, waiting to be rescued.
In some areas, the flooding isn't likely to peak until Friday, as rivers keep swelling. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in 31 counties:
"This storm is still impacting people in a big way,"
Gov. Pat McCrory. "You have got to see it to believe all the devastation that has occurred."
For those following Hurricane Matthew from the start, this was all a bit of a shock. The storm wasn't expected to affect North Carolina much; instead, forecasters initially thought it would drift off into the Atlantic Ocean after running along the coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
But the storm ended up veering onshore on Saturday, making landfall in South Carolina and dumping record amounts of rain on the region. Parts of the coastal Carolinas got 12 to 18 inches of rain, and the National Weather Service quickly warned of a "serious inland flooding event."
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).