Cambridge Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - Part 2

CCVA - Part 2 focuses on the risks from sea level rise and storm surges.  The summary report and two technical reports describe the methods and results from applying the Boston Harbor Flood Risk Model, which is based on the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) model, in a vulnerability assessment of key assets and populations in Cambridge, MA.  The Part 2 report complements the Part 1 report, which focuses on the risks from increasing temperatures and precipitation.  The two CCVA Reports form the technical foundation for the Cambridge Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience Plan that is being developed.

Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan: Integrating sea level rise into regional plans


United States
41° 44' 49.8264" N, 70° 20' 43.6524" W

The Cape Cod Commission, established in 1990, is charged with furthering conservation, balanced economic growth, water quality protection, provision of adequate capital facilities, development of adequate fair affordable housing, and preservation of coastal resources and historical, cultural, archaeological, architectural, and recreational values. The Commission adopted a Regional Policy Plan in 1991 to guide land use throughout the county; the plan is reviewed and amended as needed at least every five years.

Adaptive learning - preparing for climate change adaptation in local and state planning in Victoria

Adapting to climate change requires new approaches to strategic planning at state, regional and local scales and the development of learning organizations at all levels of government. In this think tank, held at Northcote Town Hall on 5 July 2010, local policy and decision makers worked with overseas experts to consider how to better integrate adaptation in state and local planning. Adaptive learning is a continuing and long-term process. Large scale social change is required to recognize climate risks and effectively respond to them. It should not take disasters to provoke action or create the realization that governments or communities are not sufficiently well-prepared to deal with the impacts of climate-related events.

Key points emerging from the think tank were: Priority setting, Assessing impacts and adaptation success, and Assisting learning organizations.

Connecticut SB No. 1013: Special Act 13-9: An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation and Data Collection

Section 1. (Effective from passage) Not later than February 15, 2014, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and The University of Connecticut shall, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, report to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment on the joint efforts of said department and university to establish a Connecticut Center for Coasts. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. A detailed description of the mission for such a center that shall include, at a minimum, conducting research, outreach and education projects to guide the development of technologies and regulatory provisions that increase the protection of ecosystems, coastal properties and other lands and attributes of the state that are subject to the effects of rising sea levels,
  2. the proposed governance of such center, including appointment of a center director, establishment of an advisory board and the requisite staffing level for such center,
  3. a plan for the center's performance of:
  • (A) Mapping exercises to assess and visualize key characteristics of shoreline resiliency, such as shoreline changes,
  • (B) pilot-scale engineering and impact assessment studies,
  • (C) consensus building efforts to determine state-wide uniform guidelines for planning and development purposes, including the expected rate of sea level rise for the next one hundred years,
  • (D) ways to develop state-wide, science-based planning and management alternatives,
  • (E) development in science and information-based outreach and technology transfer programs for state and local agencies and officials involved in planning and development,
  • (F) an assessment of soft shore protection strategies in Long Island Sound and the development of instructional guides for the use of such soft shore protection strategies,
  • (G) a comprehensive coastal infrastructure inventory and risk assessment,
  • (H) an analysis of the impact of seawalls in urban and rural communities,
  • (I) the development of uniform, state-wide models that predict inundation flood scenarios under slow, constant sea level rise and under storm surges,
  • (J) projects that lead to the development of rapid storm damage assessment technology,
  • (K) developing design guidelines for the construction and repair of seawalls, and
  • (L) developing tools for determining appropriate shore protection strategies and providing coastal protection information to a diverse range of end users,

  4. a listing of the existing university and department resources that will be utilized in the performance of the center's responsibilities and a description of the specific ways in which each resource will be used to perform such responsibilities, and (5) the sources and amounts of funding that the department and university, either jointly or individually, intend to secure or secured for the purpose of establishing such center.

Bay Area Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Nine County-level Snapshots - Projects, Plans, Structures and Needs

This report, produced for the Joint Policy Committee with funding support from the Kresge Foundation, provides a snapshot of Bay Area county-level climate adaptation and resilience work. The purpose of the report is to accelerate Bay Area climate action in three ways:

  • Inspire and inform cities, counties and other stakeholders about great projects being done by their peers.
  • Help design the next generation of resources and assistance that will support and boost the actions of climate stakeholders in the region.
  • Identify the high-value topics—such as funding, governance, political support and roles—that can only be effectively addressed through joint action.

The information contained here was compiled through individual and group interviews with more than 140 climate stakeholders in the nine Bay Area counties. Key to this information gathering was a set of county-level meetings that were co-hosted by local government agencies. A list of informants is included at the back of each county summary.

Four basic questions were posed to the county stakeholders.

  1. What are the key climate adaptation/resilience projects or initiatives in your county that have the potential for significant impact if replicated across the Bay Area?
  2. What official climate planning has been conducted?
  3. What structure, if any, exists in your county for local governments and stakeholders to work together on climate action?
  4. How could a Bay Area information and assistance “hub” best help to advance your climate adaptation/resilience efforts?

This report focuses on county-level adaptation projects, structures, and needs. While there are a number of important regional-level adaptation initiatives in the Bay Area, our purpose is to dive deeply into work at the local level so we can understand how local, regional, and state adaptation efforts can eventually be integrated into a powerful and effective California adaptation movement

Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Adapting to Impacts

This report provides a comprehensive overview of activities undertaken by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt the state’s transportation system to prepare for the impacts of climate change. It also identifies opportunities for additional reductions in GHG emissions and climate adaptation activities that Caltrans may wish to consider in the future.

The goals of the report are to:

  • Help spread information about best practices in GHG mitigation and climate change adaptation among Caltrans staff working in different divisions and districts, as well as among other transportation agencies;
  • Aid staff at other state agencies in identifying potential opportunities for collaboration with Caltrans in efforts to meet statewide GHG reduction and energy efficiency targets; and
  • Inform the public about the status of Caltrans’ initiatives to address climate change.

The report qualitatively discusses activities that are underway across Caltrans divisions and districts, and provides quantitative information on GHG reduction initiatives wherever possible.

Preliminary Study of Climate Adaptation for the Statewide Transportation System in Arizona

This research study presents recommendations for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to continue working toward being more resilient, flexible, and responsive to the effects of global climate change. The main objectives were to identify key individuals within ADOT with decisionmaking authority relevant in incorporating climate change adaptation in planning, design, and operations; review literature and best practices for climate change adaptation as relevant to the desert Southwest; develop a research agenda for ADOT to further understand the impacts of climate change on the agency (including a knowledge-mapping exercise using an online survey questionnaire, structured interviews, and focus groups); and identify key areas for further research.

By initiating this study, there is already an internal interest and momentum at ADOT for climate adaptation planning. Without institutional support, however, it will be difficult to continue forward with the research agenda in a more extensive study. To move beyond a preliminary assessment, ADOT will have to find ways to bring its lessons learned to the forefront and into the national spotlight. This study reveals that ADOT already experiences extreme heat and dust storms, and thus it will be the first to develop tools and techniques that can be applied to other states and regions that will experience climate impacts that Arizona will face first. The study provides some recommendations for ADOT to tap into the national dialogue on climate adaptatio

California SB-379: Land use: general plan: safety element

The Planning and Zoning Law requires the legislative body of a city or county to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan that includes various elements, including, among others, a safety element for the protection of the community from unreasonable risks associated with the effects of various geologic hazards, flooding, and wildland and urban fires.

This bill would, upon the next revision of a local hazard mitigation plan on or after January 1, 2017, or, if the local jurisdiction has not adopted a local hazard mitigation plan, beginning on or before January 1, 2022, require the safety element to be reviewed and updated as necessary to address climate adaptation and resiliency strategies applicable to that city or county. The bill would require the update to include a set of goals, policies, and objectives based on a vulnerability assessment, identifying the risks that climate change poses to the local jurisdiction and the geographic areas at risk from climate change impacts, and specified information from federal, state, regional, and local agencies. By imposing new duties on cities and counties, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Tracking Coastal Adaptation: Implementing California’s Innovative Sea Level Rise Planning Database

Sea level rise presents a significant climate change adaptation challenge for California. The state has over 3400 miles of coastline, millions of coastal residents, and an economy dependent on coastal natural resources. Higher sea levels threaten residents, public and private development, critical infrastructure, and natural resources with increased risk of flooding, inundation, storm damage, shoreline erosion, saltwater intrusion, and beach loss.

Although California has long been a worldwide leader in mitigating global climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the state has only recently begun to focus seriously on adaptation actions, which aim to reduce or adjust the adverse impacts of climate change. California’s coastal communities, agencies, and public and private entities are largely in the early stages of planning for and addressing climate-related changes on the coastline.1 Because the coast is an integrated system, and entities throughout the state have similar adaptation needs and challenges, coordination in sea level rise adaptation across sectors, jurisdictions, and scales of governance is not just beneficial but essential. Yet recent reports on sea level rise have cited a lack of integration between the many actors engaged in adaptation in California and consequently have called for improved information-sharing.2

In response, the California Legislature recently enacted one of the state’s first laws designed to advance climate adaptation. A.B. 2516,3 which Governor Brown signed on September 21, 2014, directs the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to publish information about state and selected local efforts to respond to sea level rise in a publicly accessible online database. The law requires the following entities to submit relevant information to the database biannually: airports and ports in the coastal zone or San Francisco Bay area, investor-owned utilities and publicly owned electric or natural gas utilities in the coastal zone or San Francisco Bay area, regional water quality control boards, and several state entities with relevant jurisdiction (see Box 5 below).4 Notably, municipalities and counties do not fall under the reporting requirements of A.B. 2516.

The CNRA and OPC are currently in the process of developing an implementation strategy for A.B. 2516. A.B. 2516 was not accompanied by an appropriation of funds to support its implementation. With sufficient resources, however, the database has the potential to become one of the most robust sea level rise planning information portals in the country, and an example that other jurisdictions may wish to duplicate.5

Importantly, the law grants the agencies broad discretion to determine which types of sea level rise planning information to include in the database, whom to survey, and how to organize the data. These decisions are not insignificant. Creation of the database offers an opportunity to help establish a coastal adaptation survey and dataset that may be useful not only for state and local planning but also for broader assessment of California’s preparedness for sea level rise. And although mandatory reporting is limited to a discrete list of entities, all public and private actors engaged in coastal climate change adaptation—in California and beyond—stand to gain valuable knowledge and insight from the database. Furthermore, because California’s database is the first of its kind, the agencies’ choices about which information to survey, whom to survey, and how to structure the database have the potential to influence the form and scope of future adaptation databases in other jurisdictions.

This policy brief provides recommendations to the CNRA, OPC, and California Legislature regarding how to harness A.B. 2516 to enhance coastal climate change preparedness in California. The authors and contributors to these recommendations collectively bring expertise in coastal law, climate change adaptation, program evaluation, and survey research. Overall, acknowledging that the CNRA and OPC have limited resources to devote to implementation of A.B. 2516, we urge the agencies to work over the next several years to the best of their capacity toward developing a database that can play an integral role in the development and promotion of coordinated, integrated, and effective state adaptation policy.