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*note* This page is updated regularly. last modified: June 11, 2014 1:38 pm

Climate Change in the Northeast US: Past, Present, and Future

Cameron Wake, University of New Hampshire
Monday, June 16 @ 10:30am

Climate Changes. It always has and always will. However, an extensive and growing body of scientific evidence shows – and 97% of climate scientist agree - that that human activities are now the primary force driving change in the Earth’s climate system. A wide variety of climate indicators show that the Northeast US has been getting warmer and wetter over the past century, and that the rate of change has increased over the past four decades. Extreme precipitation events have also increased dramatically since the 1960s. Statistical downscaling of global climate model simulations indicates that the Northeast will continue to get warmer and wetter, and extreme precipitation events and summertime drought will become more frequent. In addition, sea levels will continue to rise.

A pressing need for significant action to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and prepare for the impacts of our changing climate is clearly warranted given the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks associated with our changing climate. Recent climate assessments developed for New England serve as a foundation for assessing vulnerability and guiding future adaptation efforts.


Presentation Slides
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Improving Storm Surge Risk Communication

Jamie Rhome, NOAA Center for Coastal Studies
Monday, June 16 @ 11:00am

Hurricanes such as Katrina, Ike, Isaac, and Sandy showed that communicating the storm surge hazard remains a challenge. Social science research has repeatedly shown that people’s hesitation to prepare for and evacuate from storm surge stems from their lack of understanding the hazard and their vulnerability to storm surge. Social Science Researchers working with the National Hurricane (NHC) and NHC users and partners concluded that development of a high-resolution storm surge inundation graphic could increase communities’ and individual’s understanding and awareness of, and response to, the storm surge hazard. The NHC will issue a new experimental storm surge inundation graphic during the 2014 hurricane season. Dissemination of this product is supported overwhelmingly by the emergency management and broadcast meteorologist communities. This presentation provides an overview of the new graphic and discusses associated outreach activities aimed at improving storm surge communication.


Presentation Slides
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Storm Surge Risk Modeling and Coastal Engineering Adaptations in a Changing Climate

Kirk Bosma, The Woods Hole Group
Monday, June 16 @ 11:30am

Numerous coastal communities have developed, or started to develop, Coastal Climate Adaptation Plans that integrate projected sea-level rise influences into their planning process. In many coastal areas, the adverse impacts of climate change and sea-level rise may be reduced by a careful response to the increased threat of storm induced flood damage. The identification of appropriate adaptive actions (e.g. abandonment, retreat, elevation, protection, and engineering approaches) depends largely on an understanding of the present and future surge-induced flood risk. In particular, an accurate and precise assessment of the exceedance probability of storm surge water surface elevations, provided at high spatial resolution, helps decision makers identify areas of existing vulnerability requiring immediate action, as well as, areas that benefit from future vulnerability planning. Armed with this detailed information, adaptation strategies and coastal engineering alternatives can be developed that address present and future risks. Coastal protection and flood management alternatives include, but are not limited to, structural alternatives, adaptable and modular engineering concepts, flood proofing, bioengineered technology, managed retreat/relocation, elevating, flow control structures, and evacuation plans. Engineering solutions can be focused on alternatives that are adaptable with time. These concepts provide alternatives and planning approaches to mitigate, minimize, or adapt to effects of sea level rise and storm events.


Presentation Slides
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FVCOM: A New Model to Forecast Coastal Inundation Driven by Regional-to-Local Scale Changes in Atmospheric and Ocean Forcing due to Climate Change.

Changsheng Chen, UMASS Dartmouth
Robert Beardsley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Monday, June 16 @ 12:05pm

FVCOM is the unstructured Finite-Volume Community Ocean Model developed with the aim at simulating multi-scale ocean processes. This model has the advantage of resolving irregular coastal geometry and steep slope topography and ensuring local computational mass conservation. A global-basin-regional-coastal-estuarine-wetland FVCOM system has been established and placed into 24/7 forecast operation along the northeast US coastal region. This system presently includes three “end-to-end” nested coastal inundation hindcast/forecast models for Scituate and Boston (MA) and Hampton (NH).

The Scituate dynamically-based, current-wave coupled inundation model was validated for selected extratropical storms (Nor-easters) in 2005, 2007 and 2010, and the regional model for 1991 Hurricane Bob. FVCOM is now being applied to a) examine the impact of climate-change-induced sea level rise on future tropical and extratropical storm-induced coastal inundation in the Massachusetts coastal region and b) provide the state and agencies a quantitative assessment that could help in developing decision-making policy or strategies for future protection and development of coastal infrastructure, coastal zone management, coastal conservation and habitat restoration over time scales ranging from one to hundred years. The global-regional nested FVCOM system has successfully reproduced the interannual variability of sea ice in the Arctic in the past 36 years and simulated the coastal inundation caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake-induced tsunami and subsequent spread of Cs137 across the Japanese shelf.


Chen, C., et al., 2014. The March 11, 2011 Tohoku M9.0 earthquake-induced tsunami and coastal inundation along the Japanese coast: A model assessment. Prog. Oceanogr. (2014)
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Chen, C., R. Beardsley, and G. Cowles, 2006. An unstructured-grid, finite-volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) system. Oceanography, 19(1), 78-89.
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Coastal flooding in Scituate (MA): a FVCOM study of the Dec. 27, 2010 nor’easter
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Presentation Slides
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National Weather Service Resources for Response to Inland and Coastal High Water Events

David Vallee, Northeast National Weather Service; Robert Thompson, Boston, MA National Weather Service
Monday, June 16 @ 12:10pm

The Northeast River Forecast Center has developed a Self-Briefing Page, which provides a one-stop-shop to a wide range of information related to both past and future hydrologic conditions in the region. Part of this session will demonstrate how partners can utilize the web page in support of high water and flood forecast operations. Another part of this session will focus on resources available from the Taunton, MA Weather Forecast Office to assist with response to coastal storms that impact southeast New England. This will include a look at the importance of and current methodologies for forecasting both waves and storm surge associated with a coastal storm threat, emerging tools to assist emergency managers and other decision-makers, a brief assessment of current day risks along the southeast New England coast, and the challenge of an inexperienced population. Our premise is that efforts at enhancing current day decision support services for storm threats will help lay the foundation for the resources needed to address increased frequency and severity of both inland and coastal impacts expected with climate change.


Presentation Slides
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Assessing Ways to Protect Shorelines Against Flooding and Erosion by New High-Fidelity Numerical Models

Stefano Brizzolara, MIT Sea Grant and MIT
Monday, June 16 @ 12:15pm

About 3 billion people in the world live in coastal areas. Just in Europe each year up to 2.5 million people could be affected by coastal flooding (Nicholls, RJ, 2006), and about 20% of coastal wetlands could disappear by 2080 (Nicholls, RJ 2004). Coastal and near-shore marine ecosystems are vulnerable to a host of climate change-related effects including increasing air and water temperatures, ocean acidification, changes in runoff from the land, sea-level rise, and altered currents, increased storm intensity in some regions (U.S. Global Change Research Program - 2009 Report). The coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to the impact of global change, it is expected that these may entail, among other things, an increase in floods and extreme events and accelerated coastal erosion (Nicholls, RJ 2004).

MIT Sea Grant is developing new multi-fidelity numerical simulation models for the prediction of wave flooding due to extreme events in a sensible coastal stretches of Massachusetts. By these simulation tools it will be possible to systematically and scientifically assess the efficacy of different types of innovative underwater protection structures to mitigate flooding risk and reduce beach erosion problems.

We will present some examples of the new protection structures realized in successful beach restoration projects in the North Tyrrenum sea which were designed and optimized by the accurate numerical modeling of costal hydrodynamic processes (Brizzolara & Stura, 1998; Brizzolara & Brizzolara, 2004).

The integrated simulation model will couple a high fidelity Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic (SPH) numerical solver in the near shore domain with a time or spectral domain deterministic model to predict the wave shoaling with tide/current/wind effects from the offshore to the surf region. Among the existing wave transformation models, we will particularly consider the FVCOM developed at UMass Darmouth and WHOI, which is a well validated 3D offshore hydrodynamic model that has been recently integrated with a third generation spectral wave model (SWAVE), supported also by MIT-SG and successfully applied to Massachusetts coast.; and Mike21 NSW and BW models of the Danish Hydraulic Institute, that have been extensively validation for different coastal hydraulic problems and effectively used to design the two mentioned interventions.

The new high-fidelity model based on an enhanced version of the SPH solver (Monaghan, 1992), highly parallelized on GPGPU cards, will efficiently eliminate most of the empiricism currently utilized at various levels, allowing a significant step forward in the accurate assessment of the resilience properties of different coastal structures, building and infrastructures. The model, in fact, will be capable of accurately reproducing the wave propagation and the run up phenomena on sloped beach (Angelini R.R & Brizzolara S. 2014) and to supplying impact forces and water elevation in complex topographies and/or urbanized areas of the coast, evolving the physical processes from the most general (and best known) offshore conditions where the spectral or time domain wave transformation model is applied. Over all the SPH model can be used to define the shape, the dimension and the response of the multi-function submerged coastal structures and to study the innovative system for energy production from wave or current.

The coupled model is expected to bring a major step forward in the prediction of nearshore hydrodynamic processes with respect to the current state of the art (Wolf et al., 2008; Zhang et al., 2004). A much higher fidelity to the real physical processes will be achieved, allowing for important non-linear interaction effects due to complex bathymetries and rigid coastal profiles (i.e. wall overtopping and dune breaching) that are not currently considered by any state of the art code.

Angelini R. R, Brizzolara S. (2014) Numerical Modeling of Breaking Periodical Waves on a Sloped Beach Profile by SPH. ISOPE 2014 TPC 1127.
Brizzolara E., Stura S. (1998). Beach Restoration project on the littoral of Loano (SV) Italy. (in Italian)
Brizzolara E., Brizzolara S. (2002). Hydraulic design of the protected beach nourishment project in Varazze (SV), Italy. (in Italian)
Monaghan J.J. (1992). Smoothed particle hydrodynamics Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 30 543–74
Nicholls, R. J. (2004). "Coastal flooding and wetland loss in the 21st century: Changes under the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios." Global Environmental Change 14, 69–86.
Nicholls, R.J. and R.S.J. Tol. 2006. Impacts and responses to sea-level rise: a global analysis of the SRES scenarios over the twenty-first century. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2006 364.
U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) - 2009 Report
Wolf, J. (2008). Coastal flooding: impacts of coupled wave–surge–tide models, Nat Hazards, 49 (2), 241–260.
Zhang H., Ole S. Madsen, S.A. Sannasiraj, Eng Soon Chan (2004) Hydrodynamic model with wave–current interaction in coastal regions, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Volume 61,2, pp. 317-324, ISSN 0272-7714, 10.1016/j.ecss.2004.06.002

New Mapping Tool and Techniques for Visualizing Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts

Kelly Knee, Director of Coastal hazards Services, RPS ASA; Jamie Carter, NOAA Coastal Services Center
Monday, June 16 @ 12:20pm

It is one thing to have a discussion or write about a one or two foot rise in the ocean surface and potential impacts to a local community; it is another to show someone a map highlighting the areas that could be permanently lost or use the increased base water level to model how storm tide elevations may be impacted by climate change.

The ability to visualize the potential depth and inland extent of water gives us a better understanding of the corresponding impacts and consequences. Mapping sea level changes in a geographic information system (GIS) gives the user the ability to overlay the potentially impacted areas with other data such as critical infrastructure, roads, ecologically sensitive areas, demographics, and economics. Providing maps on the Web via Internet mapping technologies enables the user to have an interactive experience that truly brings out the “visual” part of the map definition.

Over the past several years, the Coastal Services Center developed new techniques to map sea level rise and coastal flooding impacts using high-resolution lidar-based elevation data. A map viewer displays flooding impacts on local public infrastructure, mapping confidence, flooding frequency, marsh impacts, and social and economic impacts from potential inundation. The first half of this presentation will provide an overview of NOAA’s Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer and look at local applications of the data, and mechanisms for obtaining the data.

The second half of the presentation will focus on how NOAA’s Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model can be used to incorporate sea level rise into predictions of future storm tides. Model inputs including hurricane parameters, model grid, and water level will be described.

There are pros and cons to using any model to predict storm surge. In the case of SLOSH, the model is computationally efficient and requires readily available, assumed, or parameterized inputs allowing it to be used operationally by the National Hurricane Center and making it a useful tool for ensemble modeling and screening level studies of potential storm surge impacts. However, the model does not include tides, waves, precipitation, or river flow. To this end, the use of SLOSH in place of a more advanced numerical model such as ADCIRC or FVCOM will be discussed and the results of a climate change vulnerability study that used SLOSH will be presented.


Extended abstract with visual details.
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Presentation Slides
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Bridging Science and Action: Using Interactive Scenario Tools with Decision Makers

Travis Franck, MIT Sloan School of Management and Climate Interactive
Monday, June 16 @ 12:25pm

Climate change science and future climate impacts are uncertain and often hard for decision makers and leaders to grapple with. One solution that has been proven to engage and clarify is interactive decision support tools, or interactive simulators. Dr. Franck will discuss and demonstrate how several of these tools have been develop, who has used them, and the venues of engagement. He will demonstrate tools that test global emission reduction scenarios and project global impacts, test green infrastructure investment to reduce urban flooding, and present a coastal city and hurricane demo simulator. Interactive tools have been used to build consensus across organizational departments, a problem when implementing change policies. The presentation will be interactive, with opportunities to ask questions.


Presentation Slides
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Resilient Cities, Resilient Communities: Sustainability for People

John Barros, City of Boston
Monday, June 16 @ 3:15pm

The growing commitment to addressing Climate Change locally, regionally, nationally and globally is expanding opportunities to promote sustainability. As we work to make our communities more climate prepared, we have a new opportunity, and an obligation, to encourage and support climate actions by individuals, families, and businesses that make up our neighborhoods in Boston.

Preparing for Climate Change in Cambridge, MA: Using Science and Community Engagement

John Bolduc, Environmental Planner, Cambridge, MA
Monday, June 16 @ 3:45pm

Cambridge has been working since 1999 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. Now it is planning for the local impacts of climate change. The City’s first step in the effort is to conduct a rigorous and comprehensive climate change vulnerability assessment.

Cambridge is a small (6.26 square miles), densely populated (105,162 people) community divided between the Charles River and Mystic River watersheds. The city is home to world renowned institutions and is a global biotech center. The levels of the Charles and Mystics Rivers are regulated by dams, which also provide barriers to tides and surges. While Cambridge was historically connected to the sea before the dams were built, the city has not experienced storm surges. Due to the extensive impervious cover and constraints of the stormwater conveyance system, the city has experienced flooding from intense precipitation events and in the Mystic River/Alewife Brook area of the city, overbank flooding has occurred. The City is also concerned about heat vulnerability.

Previous studies of storm surge flooding associated with sea level rise have suggested that moderate increases in sea level coupled with large storm surges would overtop and flank the Charles River Dam. These studies have included “bathtub” analyses and also SLOSH modeling of extreme coastal storm events (i.e., hurricane inundation maps). However, the complexities posed by the dams and the complicated topography between the city and Boston Harbor raise questions about the results of the past analyses.

With growing concern in the community and beyond about risks of climate change, particularly storm surge flooding, the City commenced a climate change vulnerability assessment to develop a technical foundation for a climate change preparedness plan. The assessment incorporates various modeling efforts, including ADCIRC for coastal storm flooding, and utilizes the ICLEI ADAPT framework.

The City also believes it is critical to bring the community and key stakeholders along in the process of understanding Cambridge’s vulnerabilities. Therefore a robust stakeholder and community engagement effort has been made an integral part of the project.


Presentation Slides
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Cambridge Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment & Preparedness Plan

Climate Change and Economic Development in Chelsea

John DePriest, Planner and Development, Chelsea, MA
Monday, June 16 @ 4:05pm

The City of Chelsea, a suburb of Boston, is an economically distressed community. Originally serving as an area of farms for Boston settlers, the City changed rapidly once the industrial revolution took hold in America: Chelsea became a dense urban community housing successive waves of immigrants – a gateway community. At just under two square miles of land and completely built-out well over one hundred years ago, the City’s economic development strategy necessarily consists of urban redevelopment. As climate change becomes a reality, it is expected that Chelsea will be hard hit by sea-level change. This will affect the City’s efforts at attracting new development, residents, revenues, and jobs.


Presentation Slides
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One Community's Concerns: Sea Level Rise and Chelsea

The Honorable Leo Robinson, Councillor, Chelsea, MA
Monday, June 16 @ 4:20pm

Chelsea’s connection to its waterfront and the vitality that connection brings is of historical and continuing importance. Although twentieth-century marine industrial activity limited the waterfront’s fullest potential, hopes that a future where commerce and access can peacefully coexist are being threatened today by potential sea level rise tomorrow. Chelsea, like many other, is working on contributing to a healthier planet, but the questions remain about whether these efforts are substantial enough, and whether there is still time for them to make an difference.

Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program

Richard Zingarelli, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Tuesday, June 17 @ 9:00am

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is an important mechanism through which people can learn about flood risk, and the actions that they can take to prepare for and protect themselves and their property from that risk. There are three key components to the NFIP—mapping, insurance, and regulations. Mr. Zingarelli will provide an overview and introduction to the NFIP, with an emphasis on the mapping and insurance components. A description will be provided of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) produced by FEMA, types of recent revisions to the FIRMs, and a mapping update status and schedule for Massachusetts. Information on insurance under the NFIP will include a general discussion of premiums, coverage, and subsidies, as well as recent changes to the NFIP as a result of laws passed by Congress in 2012 and 2014.


Presentation Slides
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Floodplains and People in a Climate Changing World

Ivy Frances, FEMA Region I, Boston, MA (invited)
Tuesday, June 17 @ 9:15am

Human development in floodplains and along the coast is not new. Three hundred years ago, the very survival of towns and communities relied upon their proximity to water. But today, many of New England’s coastal communities are not located on the coast by necessity, but because of the desire to live, work and play near water. This desire has economic, social and political implications.

A tension exists between the economic benefits and economic risks associated with coastal and floodplain development. Development of floodplains and coastlines can bring high economic value to a community, through mechanisms such as increases in commercial and industrial activity, tax revenue and tourism dollars. However, coastal development also means high risk to homes and businesses, and puts safety in peril.

Storms and flooding events disrupt the normal economic conditions for both individuals and the community at large. If the damage to the community is severe enough, citizens lose jobs, schools are damaged or destroyed, social support networks break down, and the wellbeing of individuals and the community is impacted. These issues are quietly dealt with on smaller disasters, but as we’ve seen with larger disasters these issues become compounded and complex.
The cost of recovering from these events is shared by individuals as well as among the local, regional and federal communities. Policy decisions at all levels have a large effect on who pays the costs and what incentives exist to take action, both before and after a storm. All taxpayers, via programs such as disaster assistance and government subsidized flood insurance, participate in the recovery of all communities after major storms. Some politicians want to reduce the federal budget by shifting costs to individuals in high risk areas, but others are reluctant to have their constituents bare the full cost of risk because it can make owning a coastal home unaffordable or in many cases be a burden for resale. These high level decisions have very real implications for individuals. Recovery from a storm can often be quick if an individual has flood insurance, while a lack of flood insurance can be devastating.

In addition, the effects of climate change are now adding even more complexity, uncertainty and burden to already overworked local, state and federal officials and to those that live, work and play near the water. How do we cope? What tools have proven to be successful? Do we know what costs to consider when making decisions that affect our coastal and riverine communities? Regulations, coastal retreat, higher flood insurance premiums, FIRM maps, lower flood insurance premiums, build higher, stronger levees, save floodplain habitat, don’t build here –these all seem to be common sense ideas, yet we have enormous difficulty when we try to implement them.

Is it possible to manage our cities, our landscape in a climate changing world? If we look back three hundred years, could the inhabitants of New England ever have imagined what their environment would look like today? Do we have the tools and the wherewithal to plan for the next 300 years? And if we do, how do we do it in a way that can be implemented?


Presentation Slides
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Reducing Climate Change Risks and Costs

Cynthia McHale, Ceres
Tuesday, June 17 @ 9:30am

Both insured losses as well as total economic losses due to weather catastrophes have been trending upward over the past 30 years. Huge losses are being absorbed by our federal government, as well as by businesses (e.g. property losses and business interruption), individuals (e.g. damage to homes and job losses), state and local governments (e.g. public infrastructure losses) and by investors in all the above.

On average, since 1980 private sector insurers have paid for about half of annual losses in the U.S. from catastrophic weather events, with public funding and private parties paying out-of-pocket picking up the other 50 percent. But direct damages are only part of the devastation of natural catastrophes; natural catastrophes also have long-term indirect costs. For example, the long-term effects may include foregone revenue, disruptions in supply chains and price increases for certain consumer staples. Those indirect costs undermine both individuals and local economies.

In addition to high impact, natural catastrophe events, there is a wide variety of increasingly volatile weather activity, such as unseasonably high or low temperatures, periods of unusually high wind speed, intense precipitation, unusual snowfall patterns and even the amount of sunshine – all of which can significantly impact the balance sheets of local governments and businesses, even if these only constitute minor deviations from the mean. Weather variability is typically not insured, and with few safety nets in place already strained municipal budgets are further stressed.

In defining plans for strengthening resiliency to climate change, it is critical to anchor the development of those strategies in the best possible understanding of the magnitude of the risks facing localities—including their infrastructure and neighborhoods. Although to some extent it is impossible to quantify future risks, the insurance industry has developed probabilistic models that rely on analytical techniques and wide ranging data sets to provide quantitative guidance on these topics.

Once state and local planners have assessed future climate and weather variability risks, they will need to invest wisely in resiliency measures by examining a broad portfolio of options including both green and grey solutions. When making resiliency investments, local governments should also seek to combine climate adaptation measures with strategies that reduce GHG emissions (and vice versa.) These include, for example, promoting and enforcing stronger risk reduction policies and practices with regard to land-use planning, building codes and renewable energy/energy efficiency. Finally, local governments should promote adequate insurance coverage and will increasingly need to consider a range of weather and catastrophe insurance products to help reduce the costs and risks of climate change.


Presentation Slides
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Facing More Extreme Weather, Insurers and Cities Forge New Path Toward Climate Resiliency

Crafting and Selling a “Whole Community” Approach to Ensuring a Safe and Resilient Future for our Nation

Ed Thomas, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association
Tuesday, June 17 @ 9:50am

As a Nation we may never have had a greater opportunity to seriously consider how to reduce the mounting toll which follows foreseeable natural events. The passion and energy of those of you who believe in the reality of climate change brings an entire new breath of oxygen into conversations about what sort of future we will build for the next generations. As a Nation, we are building the future every day: one cubic yard of fill at a time, one building at a time, and one road at a time. We have a choice: we can build safely and properly so as to not exacerbate existing problems caused by improper construction and development; or we can continue to do business as usual and build an unsustainable future of misery, waste and needless destruction. Right now we are clearly on the path of mounting losses from foreseeable natural events.

Floodplain Management, Climate Adaptation and Natural Hazard Mitigation are all too often thought of as a zero sum situation: one side wins and one side loses. One person or group externalizes the costs of their actions to others while reaping a bonanza. Developing a Resilient society requires a win–win “Whole Community “approach based on sound economic principles so that communities, folks who would otherwise be disaster victims, developers, and sound natural hazard risk mitigation all win. Such solutions have the advantage of being based on sound economics, law, ethics, and environmental sustainability.

We have a huge sales job to do to change the current development and redevelopment mind-set. Implementing the needed solutions will require a different way of doing business than community development practices in general use in the United States. We must seize every opportunity to insert a message of safe and resilient development into all conversations about climate change, climate uncertainty, housing, community development, planning, national security, love of family, love of country. We must also recognize that our sales job must be made to the many powerful and influential decision makers who absolutely do not believe in climate change; but who generally passionately love this Nation and wish to build a resilient future for future generations. Our sales message of public safety & safe and resilient development and redevelopment must be delivered in an apolitical manner, crafted in a different manner to reach the hopes, fears, desires, and dreams of the various audiences which comprise our “Whole Community.”


Presentation Slides
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Reforming Federal support for Risky Business

Turning Koontz into an Opportunity for More Resilient Communities

A Perfect Storm: The Collision of Tropical Cyclones, Climate Change and Coastal Population Growth

Jeffrey Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Tuesday, June 17 @ 10:50am

Damage from hurricanes has increased markedly over the last century, largely the result of increased coastal population and wealth. The recent impacts of Hurricane Sandy, a minimal category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale (sustained winds of ~80 mph), in New York and New Jersey highlight the vulnerability of the northeastern United States to tropical cyclone strikes. Despite the relatively low sustained wind speeds associated with Sandy, the large size, shore-perpendicular track, and slow movement of the storm resulted in a significant surge along the New Jersey and New York coastline (e.g., 2.75 m In New York City). Making matters worse, the peak in surge in New York City (NYC) and surrounds coincided with a high tide, resulting in total storm tide heights of more than 3 meters above mean sea level in NYC. Current estimates of the damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy exceed 71 billion USD and 285 lives were lost.

While direct hurricane strikes to NYC and New Jersey coast were rare in the 20th century (a cat 1 hurricane made landfall in southern NJ in 1903), hurricanes tracked slightly east and impacted Long Island and southern New England in 1938, 1944, 1954, 1960, 1976, 1985, and 1991. Looking back to the 19th and 18th centuries reveals that NYC and the New Jersey coast were struck by hurricanes in 1788, 1821 and 1893. The combination of documentary evidence and SLOSH modeling of these historic events indicates that the intensity of these storms were much greater than that of Hurricane Sandy, with the 1788 and 1821 storms likely making landfall at category 3 intensity. In southern New England storms of this intensity struck in 1938, 1869, 1815, 1675, and 1635. Given the increase in coastal population and development over the last two centuries, if storms like these were to occur today they would likely result in significantly more damage and loss of life than Hurricane Sandy.

Overwash-deposit based reconstructions of hurricane landfalls suggest that the northeastern US may have at times experienced intense hurricane strikes much more frequently than historically observed. In addition, the scale and character of some of these prehistoric overwash deposits suggests that some of these events may have been much more powerful than any the region has experienced historically. Thus, looking to assess the risk of hurricane landfalls in the region by relying on recent observed landfalls could potentially significantly underestimate the threat to the region, particularly given recent ocean warming that results in more energy available to hurricanes. Consequently in order to characterize future hurricane-related risks it is essential that we better understand past patterns of hurricane landfalls in the region and the underlying climatic forcing mechanisms that drive such changes.


Presentation Slides
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Hybrid Edges: A Typology of Coastal Adaptation Strategies

Kristina Hill, University of California Berkeley
Tuesday, June 17 @ 11:20am

Coastal cities around the world have begun to plan and build physical adaptation strategies for storm surges and/or sea level rise. These strategies are often quite different: some use concrete and steel barriers, some use landforms such as beaches and marshes, and others use tiered development to build urban districts that are resilient to flooding. Some are dynamic, as in the case of movable barriers and beaches that must be replenished after major storm events, while others are fixed in their spatial position and are intended to be relatively permanent. A typological organization of these strategies that uses examples from different cities can help create a set of investment choices for communities that bring multiple benefits: protection from flooding, coastal habitat areas, and resilient urban developments. Depending on a city’s local topographic conditions, wave energy regimes, and the availability of basic materials such as sand or rock, hybrids of dynamic and fixed coastal structures can provide long-term resilience to rising sea levels and more extreme rainfall events. It may be possible to delay re-development of urban districts until tiered urban design approaches are better understood, if communities use landform strategies (beaches, marshes) in the near term. New coastal districts could be produced over 50-100 years that support resilience, quality of life, and biodiversity.


Presentation Slides
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Pro-active Landscapes

Kristian Koreman, ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles)
Tuesday, June 17 @ 11:50am

Landscapes can be understood as context, tissue, underground and scenery, but ZUS approaches landscapes as pro-active drivers for long-term transformations. Not only by means of protection, but moreover as a physical manifestation of the idea of an evolutionary urban landscape. Furthermore pro-active landscapes represent the ‘public’ aspect of space like no other and are therefore true political instruments. Bureau ZUS will present a few of its latest works, featuring pro-active landscapes such as Almere Dune and the Rotterdam Luchtsingel. As ZUS was part of the Rebuild by Design competition team MIT CAU + ZUS + Urbanisten their project New Meadowlands will be presented for the first time to a larger audience. The project is a response to climate change, but takes it as an opportunity for regional ecological restoration and adaptive re-use of industrial districts.


Kristian Koreman's CV
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Progressive Plant-Focused Bioengineering Strategies to Promote Coastal Adaptation

Seth Wilkinson, Wilkinson Ecological Design
Tuesday, June 17 @ 12:20pm

In highly productive habitat areas such as salt marshes, the plant community is often anchored in place by a peat layer, which can take centuries to develop. Given the realities of accelerated sea level rise, coastal adaptation dictates that many coastal plant communities will be and are experiencing rapid migration into areas without the proper substrate to anchor these plant communities. In the absence of a peat layer, Coconut fiber (Coir) and other biodegradable bioengineering materials can be very effective at securing restoration plantings in dynamic coastal wetlands where periodic inundation and wave action can challenge the fastest growing plants. This presentation will include specific techniques to realize effective results in restoration plantings. Case studies in the restoration of salt marshes, coastal banks and coastal dunes will be used to illustrate how effective these techniques can be to meet some of the most challenging restoration goals.

Challenges with the Built Environment

Michael Benedetto, Skansa
Tuesday, June 17 @ 1:30pm

Researchers are developing powerful new analytical tools which allow more accurate predictions and modeling of climate impacts than ever before. Owners of critical infrastructure, institutions, corporations, and building asset managers are now better positioned to assess the likely effects of climate impacts to their property and businesses. As modeling around these climate impacts takes shape, questions arise as to how to assess this new information, and determine the appropriate and responsible adaptations.

The data generated from these newest models will form the basis of regional and business adaptation measures now and in the future. These models are providing decision makers with valuable information and giving rise to questions relating to the merits of one set of adaptation measures over another. In order for adaptation investment to be effective, a connection needs to be established between the outputs of sophisticated science-based predictive models and the investment-based business world requiring near term results.

This talk will look at strategies which bridge between the various climate models and the business of owning and operating important regional and business assets. At the intersection of science and business, accurate analysis is required to achieve the results that will protect critical assets and maintain business continuity.


Presentation Slides
665 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 7:23pm

Climate Adaptation Challenges for Boston’s Water and Sewer Systems

John Sullivan, Boston Water and Sewer
Tuesday, June 17 @ 1:50pm

Boston Water and Sewer Commission is completing a 25 year Wastewater Facilities Plan which includes Climate Adaptation Planning. This presentation will highlight results of the study including possible future flooding potential due to increasing rainfall intensities and sea level rise and their impacts on delivering wastewater and drainage services within the City. Ongoing and planned future data collection needs, and possible new design criteria will be discussed.

MassDOT-FHWA Pilot Project-Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Options of the Central Artery

Steven Miller, MA Department of Transportation
Tuesday, June 17 @ 2:10pm

The Central Artery is a remarkable feat of engineering that is a critical link in the regional transportation network and a vitally important asset to the City of Boston and the surrounding areas for which Boston is an economic focus. As one of the single most valuable parts of Massachusetts' infrastructure, its maintenance, protection, and enhancement are a priority to the Commonwealth. Over the more than twenty years that have passed since the genesis of the project, climate conditions have changed, and they're expected to continue to change over the course of the 21st century. In order to keep our commitment to the people of the Commonwealth to preserve and protect their public assets, it is vital that these new conditions be considered and adapted to.

The presentation will provide an update to the audience on MassDOT’s efforts concerning climate impacts and adaptive capacity of the Central Artery for present day conditions, as well as for projected climate change scenarios in the middle and late 21st century. MassDOT is developing a technically advanced, leading-edge pilot project for the Federal Highway Administration evaluating the vulnerability to sea level rise and extreme weather events for the Central Artery in Boston, MA. The project combines new systems-level vulnerability assessment and evaluated adaptation options to reduce risk to specific assets. The project also is geared towards integrating climate change vulnerability into MassDOT and FHWA engineering practices. A highly resolved, numerical processes model (ADCIRC tightly coupled with SWAN) was developed to assess the combined impact of sea level rise, storm events (tropical and extra-tropical), winds, tides, and waves. Results from the model are being used to assess risk for various assets throughout the project domain, and to subsequently investigate adaptation options to reduce the identified vulnerabilities and to establish an emergency response plan for tunnel protection and/or shutdown. The investigation also intends included a cost benefit analysis, which will assist MassDOT select the most efficient method of protecting valuable existing assets against today’s weather events and future climate impacts.

The project is currently underway, but not scheduled to be completed until the third quarter of 2014. Another goal of this project is to integrate climate change science and modeling with transportation engineering and planning. Climate Change science has been primarily the responsibility of academic institutions and scientists, while infrastructure planning and design has been the responsibility of planners and engineers. These two groups can have vastly different ways of problem solving using different assumptions and analysis that generated different expectations for outcomes, making communication between the disciplines difficult. And yet the gap between climate science and infrastructure design and planning must be bridged in order to prepare valuable assets for the current and future impacts of climate change. With this presentation, MassDOT will discuss progress in bringing Climate Change science at the local level together with engineering and planning.

Resiliency - Building for the Future

Marie Jordan, National Grid
Tuesday, June 17 @ 2:30pm

Economic damages from weather-related disasters approached record levels in 2012, with more than 800 major events worldwide and an estimated $130 billion in losses. Much of the impact was felt in the United States with Super Storm Sandy, droughts and tornadoes in the Midwest and raging wildfires in the West. Many utilities are looking for ways to improve the resilience of their networks. America’s gas and electricity networks, most of which were originally constructed more than 70 years ago, were once hailed by the National Academy of Engineering as America’s greatest technical achievement of the 20th century. Utility companies need to build a resilient backbone for our energy system that can provide reliable, flexible electric and gas service to all customers and integrate clean energy wherever it is located on the grid. We must understand that tomorrow’s power grid cannot look like today’s power grid and we will have to kill our 20th century infrastructure paradigm in order to have one that works for the 21st.


Presentation Slides
337 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 12:10pm

Building A Stronger, More Resilient New York

Daniel Zarrilli, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency; Acting Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability
Tuesday, June 17 @ 3:20pm

Hurricane Sandy highlighted New York City’s vulnerability to a changing climate, killing 44 New Yorkers and causing $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity across the city. As a result, the City established a task force to develop a plan to rebuild neighborhoods hard hit by Sandy and to strengthen the city's infrastructure against long-term climate risks.

The City used the best available science, as provided by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), to understand its climate risks. The NPCC projects that, by mid-century, the city could face increased precipitation and temperature, sea levels could rise nearly 2 1/2 feet, the number of days above 90 degrees could triple, and there could be an increase in the most intense hurricanes occurring in the North Atlantic Basin. Further analysis showed that these changes could make a Sandy-like event in 2050 cost nearly $90 billion. Clearly, the City must act to reduce these vulnerabilities.

Based on these projections, the City released its recommendations in June 2013 in a report entitled A Stronger, More Resilient New York. This plan contains a detailed roadmap including 257 initiatives for strengthening New York City’s coastline, improving its buildings, protecting its infrastructure, and making its neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

In March 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the establishment of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) to strengthen and accelerate these efforts. ORR is tasked with enhancing policy and planning coordination, incorporating resiliency into how New York City operates, and implementing the long-term climate resiliency strategies laid out in A Stronger, More Resilient New York. Additional priorities include securing supplementary federal funding, collaborating with complementary State and Federal programs, and expanding economic opportunities for New Yorkers in the recovery and resiliency process.

In April 2014, the City released its first annual resiliency progress report, showing substantial progress. While this early progress shows the city's commitment to the work of climate adaptation, much remains to be done over the next several years to prepare New York for the future.


Presentation Slides
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How Boston is Planning for Climate Resiliency

Kairos Shen, Boston Redevelopment Authority
Tuesday, June 17 @ 3:50pm

Boston's planning for the last 25 years has been about reconnecting the downtown to the harbor and reclaiming Boston's identity as a Seaport. This basic planning objective led to the massive public investments of the last two decades to cleanup Boston Harbor and to depress the city's elevated highway. These public investments have, in turn, spurred the rapid private development in the South Boston Waterfront Innovation District.

It is a big irony that after all this effort to reconnect to the harbor that we now have to also acknowledge it as a threat because of climate change and sea level rise. This presentation will highlight how Boston is re-calibrating its relationship to the harbor and how the city is integrating climate resiliency in all of its planning efforts.

The presentation will cover:
1. The most current assessment of the city's climate vulnerabilities;
2. New development guidelines, zoning and building regulations to promote climate resiliency;
3. The city's pilot design efforts at exploring physical adaptations at different scales and neighborhoods;
4. Policies on how the city can continually assess the effectiveness of new regulations aimed at climate resiliency.

Preparing Metro Boston’s Water and Sewer Systems for Climate Change

Stephen Estes-Smargiassi, Director of Planning and Sustainability, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Tuesday, June 17 @ 4:10pm

MWRA operates the regional wholesale water and sewer system for over 2.5 million people in 61 cities and towns in eastern and central Massachusetts. Water and sewer facilities span over seventy miles from central mass to the shores of Boston Harbor.

As part of successive efforts to plan effectively for the long term, MWRA has examined and responded to the potential impacts of climate change on our facilities, operations and reliability. We’ve worked cooperatively with experts from foundations, advocacy groups, federal and state environmental agencies.

MWRA’s Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant was designed in 1989 to account for the then projected two feet of sea level rise: the entire plant was raised up and the outfall made slightly larger to protect the facility and preserve its design capacity.

Our research findings since then include that our water supply system will likely see an increase in available reliable yield, which MWRA will be able to use to help other nearby systems during the projected more frequent drier periods. Detailed reviews of MWRA’s 30 coastal facilities indicate that 18 may potentially be affected by storm surge flooding. Short-term actions are being implemented for the most vulnerable, and longer-term modifications are being programmed into planned and anticipated rehabilitation projects for each facility.

MWRA is including the potential impacts of climate change into our emergency action plans and has already taken critical steps to ensure reliable operations.


Presentation Slides
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City of Portsmouth Coastal Resilience Initiative

Peter Britz, Environmental Planner and Sustainability Coordinator, Portsmouth, NH
Tuesday, June 17 @ 4:40pm

The City of Portsmouth completed a climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan in order to prepare and protect the City of Portsmouth. The report and the maps that go along with it are the City’s first step in addressing the City’s vulnerabilities. The impacts the community and it environment faces from sea level rise and coastal storm surges will be explained in some detail. By providing this information to the people in Portsmouth, the City has taken the first big step towards making the City of Portsmouth more resilient. Peter Britz will talk about the City of Portsmouth’s Coastal Resilience Initiative what it at looked, how the public was engaged in the process and introduce the next steps the City will take in preparing for Climate Change.


Presentation Slides
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Technology Pathways to Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Our Energy System

Robert Armstrong, MIT Energy Initiative
Wednesday, June 18 @ 9:00am

Abstract not yet submitted.


Presentation Slides
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The Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act

Aisling O'Shea, Global Warming Solutions Manager, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Wednesday, June 18 @ 9:30am

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts established the most ambitious, economy-wide reduction goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for any single state in the nation when Governor Deval Patrick signed our Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) in 2008. By 2020, Massachusetts aims to reduce GHG emissions by 25% from the state’s 1990 level. The GWSA requires an 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. It includes requirements for a state-wide GHG inventory, plans to achieve the 2020, 2050 and interim limits, as well as progress reports and plan updates every five years.

In December 2010, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) published The Massachusetts Clean Energy & Climate Plan for 2020 (The 2020 Plan) which outlines a portfolio of twenty-seven key policies to help achieve the emission limits required by the GWSA. Substantial progress has been made in implementing the 2020 Plan as described in the GWSA 5-Year Progress Report, which covers the period 2008-2013. During this time, Massachusetts implemented a variety of legislative actions, new regulations and other strategies addressing climate change and promoting clean energy. These strategies include cost-effective energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, transportation, land use and smart growth policies, and reduction of non-energy GHG emissions. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which provided significant funding for energy efficiency programs, was revised in 2013 to reduce the regional carbon dioxide (CO2) cap by 45 percent.

Based on EEA’s analysis to date, the 5-year report indicates that Massachusetts is likely to reduce emissions 18 percent by 2020 and has the potential to achieve at least the 25 percent goal with enhanced and supplemental strategies. Conducting this analysis requires significant inter-agency collaboration, capacity building and information management. To meet the incredible challenge of continually tracking hundreds of metrics and reporting on progress against dozens of policies, strategies, and projects to a range of stakeholder audiences, EEA recently launched a robust, cloud-based performance management system that feeds into a public-facing online dashboard. The system tracks both state-wide emissions reduction trends as well as reductions tied to specific policies. This enables state agencies to evaluate performance of policies and strategies and make necessary adjustments in a timely manner.

EEA and its agencies, in collaboration with other Secretariats, are working to implement the 2020 Plan and to promote supplemental strategies such as renewable thermal energy and the electric vehicle initiative. Evaluation of progress to date is helping to inform potential revisions to the 2020 Plan and discussions about a roadmap to 2050. The GWSA Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC), comprised of representatives from business, industry, academia and environmental advocacy organizations participate in policy discussions and workgroups, advising the Secretary on implementation issues.


Presentation Slides
842 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 4:57pm


GWSA 5-Year Progress Report

GWSA Dashboard

On the Role of Public Health in Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Planning

Patrick Kinney, Columbia University
Wednesday, June 18 @ 9:50am

Avoidance of human health damages among vulnerable populations has long been a key driver of environmental regulations in the US. To date, however, public health science has played a small role in climate change policy discussions. There is a growing body of research demonstrating health impacts of climate extremes in the present climate, with potentially more severe impacts in the future. I argue that public health science should play a central role in policy discussions around climate mitigation and adaptation planning. Among the many mitigation strategies available to achieve a given level of CO2 emission reduction, some but not all strategies bring substantial near-term health benefits for local populations, often in ways that reduce environmental inequities. Health impact assessment (HIA) can help quantify these benefits. HIA can also be used to identify emerging adaptation needs, by combining known exposure-response functions with projected climate change scenarios. I will illustrate these approaches using data on the health effects of heat and air pollution.


Projections of seasonal patterns in temperature-related deaths for Manhattan, New York
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Presentation Slides
686 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 7:45pm

Eco-districts: Test Beds for Technology and Infrastructure Innovation and Linking Mitigation and Adaptation Planning

Prof. Joan Fitzgerald, Northeastern University
Wednesday, June 18 @ 10:10am

Many cities have developed climate action plans that address climate mitigation and to a lesser extent, climate adaptation. Much effort has been devoted to identifying the practices and policies of leading cities and to figuring out how they can be adapted and replicated elsewhere. A key similarity among Europe’s leading sustainable cities—Stockholm, Malmö, Freiburg, and Copenhagen, to name a few—is that they have developed eco-districts to experiment with new technologies and practices that can be applied throughout the city to accelerate the achievement of sustainability and climate action goals. Now, many North American cities are experimenting with district-scale sustainability projects to achieve citywide climate action goals. District-scale sustainability refers to a wide spectrum of activities, ranging from developer-and-municipality-led projects, to community-based, affordable housing initiatives, to narrowly focused strategies for a given building or complex, to coordinated plans for infrastructure development. Many practitioners view the district as the “sweet spot” between the building and the city in achieving climate action goals. The project discussed today attempts to answer three questions: To what extent do cities use the lessons from experimentation in eco-districts to accelerate practices in other parts of the city? To what extent does planning at the district level allow integration of mitigation and adaptation goals? What is the process of organizational learning and adaptation that improves overall achievement of climate action goals?


Presentation Slides
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Building Resilience, Advancing Solutions: Policy Opportunities and Challenges

Kenneth Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists
Wednesday, June 18 @ 11:00am

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, will discuss how increased coastal flooding and other climate impacts underscore the need for immediate climate action.

Drawing upon his experience as the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the former chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Kimmell will explain how a strong commitment to renewables and energy efficiency can successfully lead to a substantial reduction in global warming emissions. He will also address the urgent need for a price on carbon and discuss how the EPA’s newly proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants could be strengthened, and how an ambitious rule could lead to a more widespread acceptance of carbon pricing.

Massachusetts Leads: Protecting the Environment and Greening Up the Bottom Line

The Honorable Marc Pacheco, Massachusetts Senate, Boston
Wednesday, June 18 @ 11:30am

Every nation of the world shares the problem of climate change, as well as the burden for its consequences if we do not address the threats we face. Considering this, one would expect the best way to defend our world against climate change is to develop policy that can be coordinated on a national and global scale. Despite the United States’ status as a superpower, however, we have yet to even ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for example, or to implement a national strategy that competes with that of the European Union. As a result, it is clear that state governments must lead the way on climate change initiatives until a federal policy can be agreed upon and executed. Massachusetts has taken that lead.

As founding Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, I am proud of the policies Massachusetts has put into place that not only protect our environment and natural resources, but also green up the bottom line in the process. Today the Commonwealth is aggressively pursuing our target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, through landmark clean energy policies such as the Global Warming Solutions Act, which I authored in 2008. Our economy supports a booming clean energy industry comprised of nearly 80,000 employees and more than 5,500 jobs. But as successful as we have been in dealing with this issue from an economic development perspective, we’re still far and away from where we need to be to meet the environmental goals we’ve set forth. The State Legislature passed climate change legislation prior to our understanding of the full consequences of CO2 emissions; we’ve reached low-hanging fruit in areas such as energy efficiency and renewable fuel sources, but we still have a long way to go to make the more difficult choices that will preserve us from the worst effects of climate change, such as the implementation of a carbon pricing system. It is the public’s responsibility to make sure the strong political will to act on climate change continues with the next administration and with all future legislative leaders in Massachusetts in order to continue the progress we have made so far.

Meeting our Environmental Protection Goals in the Face of a Changing Climate: Building Resilience from the Ground Up

Curt Spalding, EPA Region 1 Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Wednesday, June 18 @ 11:50am

The talk will be built upon our recently completed adaptation plan – what is EPA doing to address vulnerabilities to achieving its mission. EPA will be working with New England’s states and tribes to incorporate climate adaptation into our annual planning and funding efforts. Additionally it will focus on how EPA and Regional leaders who participated in a summit in November 2013 are working to help helping states and municipalities be resilient to climate impacts. Through collaborative leadership we are working on vulnerability assessments; state roundtables with federal partners to coordinate assessment resources; integrating climate planning into all municipal planning; developing a common data platform in New England; a communication initiative to make climate impacts and solutions local and personal; and scoping out smarter spending on resilient infrastructure.

Do the Economic Costs of Inaction Motivate Adaptation Action in Coastal Cities?

James Neumann, Industrial Economics
Wednesday, June 18 @ 1:30pm

Research on the economics of adapting to climate change is well underway but there remain significant gaps in methods and data to fill before the economic results can be used to support adaptation decisions. In this talk, Mr. Neumann will reference the economics of adapting to sea-level rise and storm surges in the coastal zone in three recent efforts: 1. The IPCC’s Working Group II report, in particular the chapter on the Economics of Adaptation; 2. The National Climate Assessment’s Coasts chapter; and 3. Work he is currently directing for USEPA and other clients to model coastal adaptation decision-making using economic analyses. While great uncertainties remain about the magnitude and timing of these effects, economic analyses show that early adaptation action in many locations can be highly cost-effective, but a key challenge for policy-makers is the decision about where to hold back the sea, and where to accommodate it.


Presentation Slides
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How Big Should My Village Be? Strategic Partnerships for Increased Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

Margaret Davidson, Director, NOAA Office of Coastal Resource Management
Wednesday, June 18 @ 2:00pm

There is a growing momentum across sectors in the coastal zone (e.g., transportation planners, natural resource managers, port developers) to incorporate climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into planning and management to protect our Nation’s coastlines. In this talk, Ms. Davidson will address the perception and management of risk by examining relevant factors ranging from the geophysical to the political. How we approach risk now will shape our future exposure, and the costs associated with major environmental events.


Presentation Slides
3032 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 12:04pm

Enhancing Resilience to Climate-Related Surprises in Coastal Cities

Thomas Wilbanks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Wednesday, June 18 @ 2:30pm

Coastal cities are threatened by a number of potentials for climate-related disruptive surprises in coming decades, many of which cannot be reliably projected by climate scenarios. Enhancing resilience to such surprises is complicated by the facts that some impacts will not be avoided, there will be limits to adaptation if climate change is severe, and transformational changes are likely to be needed for some cities. But there are a number of pathways toward greater resilience that are worth considering now, many of which offer other co-benefits for coastal cities as well.


Presentation Slides
2360 kb uploaded September 30, 2014 5:16pm