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Online Tools Help Planners Visualize and Plan for Sea Level Rise

Online Tools Help Planners Visualize and Plan for Sea Level Rise

Sea Level Rise Forum Image 1The Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise and Flooding Adaptation Forum held its sixth meeting September 19, 2014, at the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center in Suffolk. The focus of this meeting was online tools for visualizing and analyzing the impacts of sea level rise and flooding on local communities. Featured speakers included representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate Central, The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and NASA Langley.

The morning’s first speaker was Adam Parris, Program Manager for NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program. Mr. Parris’s subject was the third National Climate Assessment, which was published in May 2014, and the significance of its findings for local governments. More information on the National Climate Assessment can be found here: http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment.

Following Mr. Parris, the forum heard from two speakers on the tools their organizations have developed to assess climate change impacts. Dr. Ben Strauss from Climate Central spoke about newest version of their “Surging Seas” visualization and analysis tool (http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/), which was just released for Virginia on September 16. This tool incorporates the new LIDAR elevation data which the HRPDC provided funds for in 2013.

Sea Level Rise Forum Image 2Ms. Gwynn Crichton from The Nature Conservancy concluded the morning session with a presentation on her organization’s Coastal Resilience mapping tool (http://coastalresilience.org/), which allows users to visualize sea level rise impacts on coastal development and natural resources and also identify potential solutions.

The first speaker in the afternoon was Ms. Molly Mitchell, who presented on the VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management’s Comprehensive Coastal Resource Management Portals, which are developed for individual counties and cities in Tidewater Virginia. These portals (http://ccrm.vims.edu/ccrmp/index.html) include guidance and mapping tools to help localities plan for sea level rise. The final speaker was Mr. Brad Ball from NASA Langley, who presented on the facility’s efforts to better prepare for storm events through the use of GIS modeling.

The Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise and Flooding Adaptation Forum is a partnership between the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Sea Grant. The forum provides opportunities for local government staff in Hampton Roads to meet with academic researchers, experts, and other stakeholders in an informal setting so they can stay up to date on climate science, adaptation planning, implementation, and other related fields.

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