Sharing Low Cost Climate Change Adaptation Practices
A year-long Sea Grant partnership with NOAA’s North Atlantic Regional Team (NART) has identified low-cost, innovative ways that coastal communities are addressing climate change at the local level.
In 2012, Sea Grant joined up with NART to survey more than two dozen local communities from Virginia to Maine on their adaptation practices. The team looked at studies, laws, policies, outreach tools, and infrastructure investments that were voluntarily adopted by local governments and developed a report to share this information more broadly. Towns emphasized the importance of using existing processes and plans to respond to coastal hazards. Incorporating climate change information into comprehensive and hazard mitigation plans was an easy first step since most towns already have budgets to prepare these plans. Often these efforts are led by town staff or citizen volunteers, but more sophisticated planning requires funding, technical assistance, and partnerships with entities like NOAA, other federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
Bowers, Delaware, recently took the radical step of completely rezoning its downtown to relocate their commercial district to a less flood-prone part of town. New York City formed a partnership with the Nature Conservancy to develop a GIS-based sea level rise visualization tool for Long Island Sound, then reached out to neighboring communities including Guilford, Connecticut to share what they learned. Such cross-community pollination efforts are spreading successes and leading to more effective adaptation planning.
The Cost Efficient Adaptation in the North Atlantic report inventories these and other examples of how municipalities have been responding to these threats. The report is well-timed to support post-Sandy recovery in the Mid-Atlantic as well as the steps other communities in the region are taking to become more resilient. For more information contact members of the project team: Connecticut Sea Grant Director Sylvain DeGuise, Maine Sea Grant‘s Esperanza Stancioff, or NOAA’s Eastern Region Climate Services Director, Ellen Mecray.