North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Project

Created: 8/05/2021 - Updated: 11/28/2021

Summary

North Carolina is significantly vulnerable to sea level rise due to its landform and unique coastal habitats. The North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Project evaluated the potential changes in coastal flooding hazards due to rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and intensity, including changes to human and natural systems. The project produced a final report in 2012 describing hazards and risks, as well as preferred mitigation and adaptation options.  

Background

The North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Project began in February 2009 with the goals of informing state and federal policymakers about sea level rise impacts and promoting the development of risk management policy. The geographic scope of the project included areas along eastern North Carolina at risk of flooding from sea level rise and increased storms. The project evaluated the likely changes in coastal flooding hazards due to sea level rise as well as changes in storm frequency and intensity, and examined future vulnerability to temporary and permanent flooding and erosion. It was funded through a FEMA budget appropriation of $5 million to the State of North Carolina and administered through the North Carolina Office of Geospatial and Technology Management Floodplain Mapping Program. The study was carried out through a collaborative effort between the State of North Carolina, the North Carolina university system, Dewberry, and other stakeholders, and was organized into nine workgroups: (1) conceptual modeling, (2) analytical modeling and programming, (3) coastal landforms, (4) processes and structures, (5) flood risk strategies, (6) buildings and coastal structures, (7) critical infrastructure, (8) ecological, agriculture and aquaculture, and (9) societal. 

Implementation

The three-year project studied the potential impacts of sea level rise, coastal flooding, and erosion in 20 North Carolina coastal counties. Study partners examined future hazard scenarios (e.g., 70 cm rise in sea level, 1 meter, 1.4 meters) at 25-year intervals (e.g., 2025, 2050, 2075, 2100) to identify vulnerabilities. They also reviewed existing federal and state risk management plans and initiatives related to hazard and/or flood management, and evaluated how effective these plans are at addressing new risks (e.g., quantifying performance and/or examining their potential adaptability). Based on their results, partners made recommendations to modify existing programs or create new programs. The information from this project was also used in an impact assessment framework to evaluate average annualized losses.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Final products included a report identifying hazards and risks, as well as mapping products; a study template, data requirements and guidance for assisting future studies; a GIS analytical toolset; and preferred mitigation and adaptation options applicable to different environments. Example adaptation strategies include acquiring properties vulnerable to inundation and managing as floodable open space, using rolling easements to allow for inland migration of coastal habitats, providing new job training for individuals in industries at risk of losing their livelihoods due to sea level rise, elevating and relocating critical infrastructure, and retrofitting historic buildings to withstand flooding.

Status

Last updated 8/21.

Project File (s)

Dewberry: North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Study - Preventing Loss… N.C. Environmental Quality: Sea Level Rise Study Update

Citation

Kershner, J. and Braddock, K.N. (2021). North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Project [Case study on a Dewberry Project]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/north-carolina-sea-level-rise-risk-management-project (Last updated April 2021)

Project Documents

North Carolina Sea Level Rise Risk Management Study Conceptual Model Report.pdf N.C. Sea Level Rise Assessment Report.pdf N.C. Sea Level Rise Impact Study Flood Impact Management Strategies Report.pdf

Project Contact(s)

Jerry Sparks
Associate Vice President
Dewberry, Inc.
jsparks@dewberry.com

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
https://deq.nc.gov 

 

Dewberry is a leading professional services firm with a proven history of providing architecture, engineering, and management and consulting services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 40 locations and 1,800+ professionals nationwide.

Keywords

Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Culture/communities
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Policy
Research
Transportation / Infrastructure
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Erosion
Flooding
Sea level rise
Climate Type
Temperate
Timeframe
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Design protected areas or lands to allow inland, altitudinal, or latitudinal movement
Capacity Building
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Make infrastructure resistant or resilient to climate change
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Habitat/Biome Type
Coastal
Sociopolitical Setting
Urban
Rural
Effort Stage
Completed

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Awareness
Assessment
Planning
Implementation
Integration/Mainstream
Evaluation
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Biodiversity
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture/communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Fisheries
Land Use Planning
Policy
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
Read more