The Story After the Storm series examines the aftermath of Duluth's 2012 flood. The increased frequency of extreme weather, not only in Duluth but across the U.S., has given urgency to understanding community resiliency and regional climate change. The series is part of The Science Institute for Educators, sponsored by the Great Lakes Aquarium, Minnesota DNR MinnAqua Program, Minnesota Sea Grant, and The Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. It is funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in conjuction with Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program.
Extreme weather events coupled with sea level rise and erosion will cause coastal and riverine areas where people live and maintain livelihoods to disappear permanently. Adaptation to these environmental changes, including the permanent relocation of millions of people, requires new governance tools. In the USA, local governments, often with state-level and national-level support, will be primarily responsible for protecting residents from climate-change impacts and implementing policies needed to protect their welfare. Government agencies have a variety of tools to facilitate protection in place and managed coastal retreat but have very limited tools to facilitate community relocation. In addition, no institutional mechanism currently exists to determine whether and when preventive relocation needs to occur to protect people from climate change impacts. Based on research involving four Alaska Native communities threatened by climate-induced environmental impacts, I propose the design and implementation of an adaptive governance framework to respond to the need to relocate populations. In this context, adaptive governance means the ability of institutions to dynamically respond to climate change impacts. A component of this adaptive governance framework is a social-ecological monitoring and assessment tool that can facilitate collaborative knowledge production by community residents and governance institutions to guide sustainable adaptation strategies and determine whether and when relocation needs to occur. The framework, including the monitoring and assessment tool, has not been systematically tested. However, the potential use of this tool is discussed by drawing on empirical examples of Alaskan communities faced with accelerating rates of erosion.
The goal of the Hawaiian Islands Climate Synthesis Project was to develop comprehensive, science-based syntheses of current and projected future climate change impacts on, and adaptation options for, terrestrial and freshwater resources within the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis presents the results of the major project components - climate impacts assessment, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning - and provides an inter-island analysis of the findings. More detailed information is available in the individual vulnerability assessment syntheses and adaptation summaries, and should be referred to for decision support, which can be found at http://bit.ly/HawaiiClimate.
Waveland, Mississippi is a small town by the Gulf of Mexico. Many residents reside in areas less than 15 meters above sea level. Frequent floods and resulting costs of insurance rates and home repairs are driving residents out of the city. With a grant funded by FEMA and the Alabama-Mississippi Sea Grant, the City of Waveland hired the consulting firm AMEC Environment and Infrastructure (AMEC) to develop a hazard mitigation plan that followed the Disaster Mitigation ACT (DMA) planning regulations.
Chatham County is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, and erosion. Increasing the ability of the county to adequately prepare for and recover from the impacts of climate change are important goals of the Chatham County – Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission. These goals have expanded into ensuring that all areas of the county are preparing for climate change, including public works, fire departments, hospitals, board of educators, and county engineers.
This Tribal Climate Resilience Resource Guide (TCRRG) was developed by the Climate Subgroup of the White House Council on Native American Affairs to provide federal government-wide resources for tribes and climate in a standard framework. Each of the 567 federally-recognized Tribes can visit their Tribal Fact Sheet "Climate Dashboard" to learn about federal agencies and programs that may assist them to build resilience, whether to manage disasters, relocate, contend with shifting subsistence species, mitigate the human causes of climate change, or address other climate impacts on lifeways.
The Climate and Disaster Risk Screening Tools developed by the World Bank, provide a systematic, consistent, and transparent way of considering short- and long-term climate and disaster risks in project and national/sector planning processes. Screening is an initial, but essential, step to ensure these risks are assessed and managed to support mainstreaming of climate and disaster resilience into key development policies, programs, and projects.
The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) provides a variety of forecasts from the National Weather Service regarding potential magnitude and uncertainty of flood and drought events. The AHPS offers hydrologic forecasts for close to 4,000 locations throughout the United States, and forecasts can be produced from hours to months in advance. The tool mainly draws upon data from the USGS National Streamflow Information Program (https://water.usgs.gov/nsip), a national network of stream gauges.
Severe weather, coupled with an aging and overstressed electrical infrastructure, is having a dramatic impact on the U.S. population. In late 2012, Superstorm Sandy’s devastation left 132 people dead; more than 8 million people in 16 states lost power; subway tunnels were inundated with water; 305,000 homes in New York City and 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey were damaged or destroyed; sewage plants were crippled, causing hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage to ow into waterways; and four New York City hospitals shut their doors.
Rebuilding after any major storm is a formidable challenge. The core principal of any major reconstruction effort should be to “rebuild smart,” ensuring that reconstruction funds maximize the deployment of technologies to mitigate future power outages, save lives, and protect property.
Resilient and reliable power is critical for rst responders, communications, healthcare, transportation, nancial systems, water and wastewater treatment, emergency food and shelter, and other vital services. When smart technologies are in place, power outages are avoided and lives, homes, and businesses are protected.
Good examples are the deployment of microgrids, energy storage, and cogeneration. As reported in the MIT Technology Review:
- Local power generation with microgrids showed the bene ts of reliability during Hurricane Sandy.
- The Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak research facility in Maryland switched over to its onsite natural gas turbines and engines to power all the buildings on its campus for two and a half days.
- Princeton was able to switch off the grid and power part of the campus with about 11 megawatts of local generation.
- Similarly, a cogeneration plant at New York University was able to provide heat and power to part of the campus.
- A 40MW combined heat and power plant in the Bronx was able to provide electricity and heat to a large housing complex.
The 400-plus member companies of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and its staff of experienced engineers and electroindustry experts—spanning more than 50 industry sectors—stand ready to assist industry and government of cials when rebuilding after a disaster.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation is located in the St. Lawrence River Valley in upstate New York along the U.S. Canada border. The Mohawk Nation Territory (Akwesasne) straddles three borders – New York State; Ontario, Canada; and Quebec, Canada (see Exhibit 1). Most tribal members fish in the St. Lawrence River, and several other tributary rivers run through the community (including the St. Regis and Raquette Rivers). The St. Lawrence River has a strong current at Akwesasne, and two dams upstream from the reservation produce a significant amount of power. The territory has 3,000 acres of wetlands.
Climate change, long-term changes in weather patterns caused by anthropogenic emissions, poses an additional threat to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The phenomenon is projected to bring a number of changes to Akwesasne, including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as the Ice Storm of 1998, a severe storm that caused many trees and utility poles to fall and produced widespread blackouts. Akwesasne is planning for climate change not because the climate is changing but because the climate is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Climate change has begun, and adaptation needs to be vigorous. It is no longer possible to not do something about climate change.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s (SRMT) Environment Division is investigating the impacts of climate change on the resources, assets, and community of Akwesasne and is developing recommendations for actions to adapt to projected climate change impacts. This plan is a first step in an effort to develop practical actions that the Tribe can take in order to adapt to ongoing and expected climate changes.