Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer: A Toolkit to Build Adaptive Capacity on Canada's South Coasts

Location

United States
51° 47' 32.3052" N, 60° 7' 1.8768" W
US
Tool Overview: 

This Primer provides an introduction to past and future sea levels, an overview of four different adaptation strategies, a recommended framework for decision making and finally a total of 21 adaptation tools to support local adaptation action.

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change

The National Academy of Sciences’ report on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change is part of the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies that was requested by Congress.  The report concludes that much of the nation’s experience to date in managing and protecting its people, resources, and infrastructure is based on the historic record of climate variability during a period of relatively stable climate.  Adaptation to climate change calls for a new paradigm—one that considers a range of possible future climate conditions and ­associated impacts, some well outside the realm of past experience.  Adaptation is a process that requires actions from many decision-makers in federal, state, tribal, and local governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and community groups. However, current adaptation efforts are hampered by a lack of solid information about the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of various adaptation options, by uncertainty about future climate impacts at a scale necessary for decision-making, and by a lack of coordination.

The report calls for a national adaptation strategy to support and coordinate decentralized efforts. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are currently lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, shared lessons learned, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.

Climate Change and Water

The Technical Paper addresses the issue of freshwater. Sealevel rise is dealt with only insofar as it can lead to impacts on freshwater in coastal areas and beyond. Climate, freshwater, biophysical and socio-economic systems are interconnected in complex ways. Hence, a change in any one of these can induce a change in any other. Freshwater-related issues are critical in determining key regional and sectoral vulnerabilities. Therefore, the relationship between climate change and freshwater resources is of primary concern to human society and also has implications for all living species.

Local Government Perspective on Adapting Water Management to Climate Change

Cities and other local authorities have a critical stake in the adaptation of water management to a changing climate. Virtually all the world’s future population growth is predicted to take place in cities and their urban landscapes. The UN estimates a global increase from the 2.9 billion urban residents in the 1990s to a staggering 5.0 billion by 2030. By 2030, 1 in 4 persons will live in a city of 500,000 people, and 1 in 10 will live in a mega-city of 10 million or more. How will climate change and variability affect water services and water safety for these many millions? What actions should local governments take to adapt water management for climate change?

Institutionalizing Climate Preparedness in Miami-Dade County, Florida

As a coastal community located at sea level and surrounded by water on three sides, with typical land elevation only three to ten feet above mean high water, Miami–Dade County is acutely aware of the dangers posed by climate change. Climate changes, including sea level rise, increases in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, and changes in the intensity and/or frequency of extreme events all threaten the health and safety of residents, the integrity of infrastructure, and the vitality of regional ecosystems. In 2007, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) quantifi ed the vulnerability of various municipalities across the world towards climate change and identifi ed Miami–Dade County as having the highest amount of vulnerable assets exposed to coastal flooding (for the 2070’s) with a projected potential cost of approximately $3.5 trillion.Moreover, the County’s geographical location at the tip of a peninsula, its large, dense population, and the reality that many key economic drivers for the county are weather dependent (e.g. tourism and agriculture), have created a clear impetus to plan for climate change. To help start with the climate planning process, the County worked with local and regional climate scientists to review regionally specifi c climate models. These climate models predict an increase in temperature over the next 50 years between 4.5–9 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the greenhouse gas emissions scenario),with a notable increase in the number of days over 90 degrees. The greatest temperature increases are expected during the summer months – which can have signifi cant implications on energy demand, exacerbate heat waves, and lead to greater evapo-transpiration, resulting in an impact on water supply, as well as local agriculture. These increases in temperature could also lead to more heat related illnesses and deaths, the spread of disease vectors, shifts in agricultural production and growing areas, droughts and excessive crop damage, and affect the viability and habitat of native plant and animal species. 

Adaptation to Climate Change In Forest Management

Adaptation in forestry is sustainable forest management that includes a climate change focus. Climate change over the next 100 years is expected to have significant impacts on forest ecosystems. The forestry community needs to evaluate the long-term effects of climate change on forests and determine what the community might do now and in the future to respond to this threat. Management can influence the timing and direction of forest adaptation at selected locations, but in many situations society will have to adjust to however forests adapt. Adapting to climate change in the face of the uncertain timing of impacts means we must have a suite of readily available options. A high priority will be coping with and adapting to forest disturbance while maintaining the genetic diversity and resilience of forest ecosystems. A framework for facilitating adaptation in forestry is discussed and a review of adaptive actions presented.

Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2008

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and will become even more so as a result of climate change. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in the coming years. These changes will threaten the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes and reducing poverty, and will make it more difficult to achieve the MDGs.

Lami Town, Fiji Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Climate change is already affecting millions of people worldwide. In urban areas, which are typically characterized by significantly higher population density, climate change will exacerbate and compound existing climate vulnerabilities, especially for the urban poor. As a result of climate change, it is expected that storm frequency and intensity will increase, flooding will become more serious and droughts will affect food production in rural areas, which will have damaging effects in cities. Coastal areas are particularly threatened by inundation from storm surges and sea-level rise. Existing urban development challenges, such as poor health and inadequate housing, is substantially exacerbated by the effects of climate change. At the same time, cities are the main drivers of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This means that cities must be at the centre of efforts to both mitigate the causes of climate change, and to adapt to their anticipated effects.

In Fiji, as in many areas in the Pacific, urban populations are located in highly hazard-prone areas in the coastal zone. Storm surges and sea-level rise can affect settlements, food production and infrastructure. A lack of basic services such as clean water supply and solid waste management can exacerbate the negative effects of climate change. Amid all this, the poorest are almost always the most vulnerable, as they have less access to infrastructure, basic services and social safety nets in the event of a disaster.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Climate change is already affecting millions of people worldwide. In urban areas, which are typically characterized by significantly higher population density, climate change will exacerbate and compound existing climate vulnerabilities, especially for the urban poor. As a result of climate change, it is expected that storm frequency and intensity will increase, flooding will become more serious and drought will affect food production in rural areas, which will have damaging effects in urban areas. Coastal areas are also threatened by inundation from storm surges and sea-level rise. Existing urban development challenges, such as poor health and inadequate housing, are substantially exacerbated by the effects of climate change. At the same time, urban areas are the main drivers of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This means that cities must be at the centre of efforts to address the challenge of climate change, both to mitigate its causes and to adapt to its anticipated effects.

In Papua New Guinea, as in many areas in the Pacific, urban populations are often located in hazard-prone areas in the coastal zone. Storm surges and sea-level rise can affect settlements, food production and infrastructure. A lack of basic services such as clean water supply and solid waste management can exacerbate the negative effects of climate change. Amid all this, the poorest are almost always the most vulnerable, as they have less access to infrastructure, basic services and social safety nets in the event of a disaster.

Adaptation in the City

This webinar focuses on how cities and communities may best respond to the complexities of a changing climate and how to best adapt to on-the-ground issues. Community-driven climate adaptation efforts in Brooklyn, New York and Detroit, Michigan are highlighted. Speakers include Kara Reeve (National Wildlife Federation), Kimberly Hill Knott (Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice), Elizabeth Yeampierre (Uprose), and Lara Hansen (EcoAdapt).

This is the third installment of the National Adaptation Forum Webinar Series and is sponsored by EcoAdapt, the National Wildlife Federation, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, and Uprose, and hosted by the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE; cakex.org).

For more details, click here. For other NAF webinar recordings, visit www.cakex.org/NAF/webinars.