Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Study for the City of Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles (City of L.A. or the City) has initiated research to support planning for the impacts of climate change. The City, the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program (USC Sea Grant) and project partners developed a science-based and stakeholder-supported adaptation planning process to support research on the impacts of sea level rise on City assets, resources and communities.

As a first step, this report, Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Report for the City of Los Angeles, is a summary of initial research on the potential impacts of sea level rise and associated flooding from storms for coastal communities in the City of L.A. The study concentrates on the City’s three coastal regions: Pacific Palisades from Malibu to Santa Monica; Venice and Playa del Rey; and San Pedro, Wilmington and the Port of Los Angeles.

In this study, we provide an initial report by Dr. Reinhard Flick focused on coastal vulnerabilities in locales within City boundaries, and provide recommendations for beach monitoring programs. We then highlight the findings of three vulnerability assessments that provide a preliminary examination of the physical, social, and economic impacts of sea level rise on the City’s coastal assets, resources and communities, and include a summary discussion of ecological vulnerability at Ballona Wetlands. One of the next steps for the City will be to develop an Adaptation Plan. We help get this process started with a matrix of available adaptation measures the City can consider in planning for sea level rise as well as recommendations for moving forward with adaptation planning.

Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization: Transportation Asset Climate Change Risk Assessment Project

The Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (OahuMPO) was selected by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as one of five pilots nationwide to perform and evaluate a risk assessment of climate change on important transportation assets. The conceptual model shown below defines a method of integrating an inventory of assets with climate information and determining how vulnerable the asset is from two dimensions: the impact to the asset itself and, importantly, the socioeconomic consequences of that impact.

While the bulk of this report addresses the outcomes of the vulnerability assessment of specific assets, it is important to place those findings in the context of the work that was done in three stages.

  1. Understand climate change factors as they apply specifically to Oahu and, more generally, to island environments in the Pacific Ocean, over time. Given the climate data available and the evolving state of climate science understanding, the years 2050 and 2100 were defined as the time horizons for consideration. A baseline of 1970‐ 2000 was set as the measure against which future years’ impacts would be evaluated.
  2. Conduct a two‐ day workshop to bring together both the climate science community and key planners and engineers from the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, Federal Highway Administration, and private industry to identify a set of transportation assets that may be particularly at risk due to climate change. The outcome of this workshop established a total of five assets that – if impacted adversely by climate change – have potentially high socioeconomic consequences to Oahu and the state of Hawaii.
  3. Analyze the vulnerability of the selected assets based on the climate stressors that were identified during the workshop.

Recommendations to Improve the Strength and Resilience of the Empire State’s Infrastructure

On November 15, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo convened the NYS 2100 Commission in response to the recent, and unprecedented, severe weather events experienced by New York State and the surrounding region: most recently, Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee. The Governor asked the Commission to examine and evaluate key vulnerabilities in the State’s critical infrastructure systems, and to recommend actions that should be taken to strengthen and improve the resilience of those systems. If done right, we have a tremendous opportunity not only to mitigate future damage and subsequent economic losses, but to invigorate New York’s economy with a robust green technology sector and to enhance quality-of-life for all New Yorkers.

The Commission reviewed the vulnerabilities faced by the State’s infrastructure systems, and developed specific recommendations that can be implemented to increase New York’s resilience in five main areas: transportation, energy, land use, insurance, and infrastructure finance. These recommendations are aimed to:

  • Identify immediate actions that should be taken to mitigate or strengthen existing infrastructure systems – some of which suffered damage in the recent storms – to improve normal functioning and to withstand extreme weather more effectively in the future;
  • Identify infrastructure projects that would, if realized over a longer term, help to bring not only greater climate resilience but also other significant economic and quality of life benefits to New York State’s communities;
  • Assess long-term options for the use of “hard” barriers and natural systems to protect coastal communities;
  • Create opportunities to integrate resilience planning, protection and development approaches into New York’s economic development decisions and strategies; and
  • Shape reforms in the area of investment, insurance and risk management related to natural disasters and other emergencies.

Fact Sheet: Climate Adaptation at the Federal Level

Climate change adaptation is a risk-management strategy characterized by adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change. Climate adaptation (or resiliency) efforts can vary widely based on the needs of a region, but they commonly include better climate information and decision-making tools, new building and infrastructure standards, and infrastructure modifications that improve resiliency to storm water or extreme temperatures.Due to concerns over national climate vulnerability and unavoidable increases in climate risk in the coming decades, policymakers have expanded their focus beyond climate mitigation to include resiliency efforts. Many efforts are ongoing at the state and local level. Although progress by the federal government has lagged, strides have been made in the last few years. Action at the federal level can serve to provide guidelines and resources to states and cities, promote collaboration, and improve financing availability. This fact sheet will explore federal climate resiliency efforts, the majority of which are in progress.

Great American Adaptation Road Trip in 7 Minutes

Kirsten Howard and Allie Goldstein, recent graduates of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, spent three months traveling around the United States collecting 'stories of climate resilience'--examples of people and places adapting to the impacts of climate change. They visited 31 states and conducted 158 interviews with natural resource managers, climate scientists, farmers, city planners, business owners, artists, and more. This is the 7-minute version of their summer. Check out the full story at www.adaptationstories.com.

U.S. Executive Order - Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change

The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to take a series of steps to make it easier for American communities to strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change. The Federal Government has an important role to play in supporting community-based preparedness and resilience efforts by establishing policies and prioritizing investments that promote preparedness, protecting critical infrastructure and public resources, supporting science and research needed to prepare for climate impacts, and ensuring that Federal operations and facilities continue to protect and serve citizens in a changing climate.

The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to:

  • Modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments: Agencies will examine their policies and programs and find ways to make it easier for cities and towns to build smarter and stronger. Agencies will identify and remove any barriers to resilience-focused actions and investments– for example, policies that encourage communities to rebuild to past standards after disasters instead of to stronger standards – including through agency grants, technical assistance, and other programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief.
  • Manage lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience: America’s natural resources are critical to our Nation’s economy, health and quality of life. The E.O. directs agencies to identify changes that must be made to land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations to strengthen the climate resilience of our watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them. Federal agencies will also evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands, as well as how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change. 
  • Provide information, data and tools for climate change preparedness and resilience: Scientific data and insights are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change.  The E.O. instructs Federal agencies to work together and with information users to develop new climate preparedness tools and information that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.  In keeping with the President’s Open Data initiative, agencies will also make extensive Federal climate data accessible to the public through an easy-to-use online portal.
  • Plan for climate change related risk: Recognizing the threat that climate change poses to Federal facilities, operations and programs, the E.O. builds on the first-ever set of Federal agency adaptation plans released earlier this year and directs Federal agencies to develop and implement strategies to evaluate and address their most significant climate change related risks.  

To implement these actions, the E.O. establishes an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, chaired by the White House and composed of more than 25 agencies. To assist in achieving the goals of the E.O., these agencies are directed to consider the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change

Businesses face growing threats from extreme weather and climate change: damage to facilities, loss of water or power supplies, higher costs, and disruption of supply and distribution chains.

In this report, C2ES provides a detailed snapshot of the state of resilience planning among a cross-section of global companies and outlines steps companies can take to better assess and manage their growing climate risks.

The report includes a comprehensive review of resilience practices among S&P Global 100 Index companies and detailed case studies of six companies in diverse sectors: American Water, Bayer, The Hartford Group, National Grid, Rio Tinto and Weyerhaeuser.  It also draws on input from a technical workshop with representatives of a wide range of industries.

Key Findings:

  • Ninety percent of S&P Global 100 Index companies identify extreme weather and climate change as current or future business risks.
  • Almost two-thirds (62 percent) say they are experiencing climate change impacts now, or expect to in the coming decade.
  • Companies are most concerned about the direct impacts of extreme weather on property, production and supplies, and indirect impacts on operational costs, such as higher prices for commodities or insurance.
  • Most companies are managing these risks through existing business continuity and emergency management plans. Only a few have used climate-specific tools to comprehensively assess risks.
  • Most companies (75 percent) also see new opportunities from a changing climate, including drought-resistant crops, storm-resistant building materials, and weather-related insurance products.

Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation – Ensuring Services in an Uncertain Future

This study was an activity of the Engineering the Future partnership, carried out on behalf of Defra by The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The conclusions of the study will feed into the Defra led cross-Government Infrastructure and Adaptation project. The study was carried out from the perspective of the engineering profession and the engineering response to the demands of climate change adaptation.

Engineers will be central to the process of adaptation, both ensuring that current infrastructure assets are protected from the long term and acute affects of climate change, and developing new infrastructure systems fit for changing climate conditions. Investing in engineering efforts to protect infrastructure is essential both to minimise risks to infrastructure, and thereby the public and the economy, due to climate change; and to maximise opportunities for the profession and the economy in developing cost-effective and marketable solutions to adaptation needs.

This report examines vulnerabilities in different sectors of the national infrastructure to the effects of climate change and the modifications that would be needed to increase resilience. It also considers vulnerabilities that affect the infrastructure system as a whole and which arise as a result of interdependencies between different sectors. The effects of climate change on infrastructure are not limited to changes in weather, but include the impact on infrastructure of efforts toward climate change mitigation, and climate induced changes in behaviour and demographics. These must be considered alongside other developments such as population growth and changes in the economic environment.

 

Climate Change and Energy Supply and Use

This technical report on “Climate Change and Energy Supply and Use” was prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in support of the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA). Prepared on an accelerated schedule to fit time requirements for the NCA, it is a summary of the currently existing knowledge base on its topic, nested within a broader framing of issues and questions that need fur- ther attention in the longer run (also see the on-line version of the report, which includes figures in color: http://www.esd.ornl.gov/eess/NCAEnergySupply.shtml).

The report arrives at a number of “assessment findings,” each associated with an evaluation of the level of consensus on that issue within the expert community, the vol- ume of evidence available to support that judgment, and the section of the report that provides an explanation for the finding.

GCRP, 2009, indicates that the US energy sector is large and complex, with impres- sive financial and management resources, capable of responding to major challenges. It is accustomed to strategy development and operation in the fact of uncertainties and risks, both environmental and political. No sector has better capabilities to respond to challenges posed by climate change impacts.

Current knowledge indicates that such challenges tend to focus on climate-change- related episodic disruptions of energy supply and demand related to extreme weather events at a regional scale, on exposures related to risks in especially vulnerable areas, and on implications of changes in temperature and precipitation patterns – extremes as well as averages – for supply and use systems that are sensitive to climate parameters.