The Texas General Land Office (GLO) updated Coastal Resiliency Master Plan provides a framework for the protection and adaptation of coastal infrastructure and natural resources across the most vulnerable regions of the Texas Gulf coast. The Resiliency Plan adopts the most current storm surge and sea level rise models to determine the implication of projected climate impacts, coastal hazards, and prioritization of these projects. The priority issues of concern identified for resilience planning on the Texas coast focus on degraded or lost habitat, beach and dune erosion, storm surge, coastal flooding, impacts on water quality and quantity, loss of marine and coastal resources, and shoreline debris.
Mexico Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico in Bay County, Florida and faces climate enhanced hurricanes, coastal storm surge, sea level rise and flooding impacts. In October 2018, Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in Mexico Beach demolishing 70% of the town’s homes. The coastal community has amended the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zones maps to reflect storm surge flood levels and high risk floodplain areas as implicated by Hurricane Michael flooding. An ordinance has been adopted in which new construction in Mexico Beach must be elevated at least a foot and a half higher than FEMA’s base-level flood predictions in both the region’s 100-year and 500-year floodplains.
The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy partnered with the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC), the Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative, and the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center for this analysis on sea level rise preparedness in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. GCC offers a discussion of strategies related to floodplain, zoning and regulatory standards to support sea level rise and coastal flooding resilience policies and decision making.
Mentorship Spotlight: Coastal Conservation and Urban Resilience
Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards
Congratulations to our 2018 Carolinas Regional Adaptation Leadership Award honorees Holly White, John Fear, and Steven Frank! Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the field of climate adaptation.
Holly White is a dedicated climate adaptation leader in her community as well as for all of North Carolina. Her tenacity in action, vision, creativity, and sheer determination to engage with others and promote adaptation strategies and planning underscores her efficacy in putting dedication into practice. Through her strength and talent for engaging a diverse set of stakeholders, she has established the Town of Nags Head as a model for other communities to emulate in their adaptation efforts. Holly crafted a vision for a resilient Nags Head by learning about adaptation and engaging the public, both those supportive and skeptical of the need for sea level rise planning. To approach adaptation planning, Holly assembled a team across town departments that included planning, engineering, public works, and septic health. Her leadership has fostered integrated, interdisciplinary resilience. Grounding in shared values, her work has strengthened support and capacity for sea level rise planning.
Holly is ensuring that adaptation addresses complex hazards, centering the interactions between sea level rise, rainfall, and water use in driving groundwater table height and consequent flooding. The mainstreaming approach to adaptation Holly recommended will ensure that complex hazards are included across all implemented plans. Holly is now sharing lessons learned from Nags Head throughout northeastern North Carolina, initiating efforts to reach across the border with Virginia as well as rural northeastern NC counties. Through her dedication to public service, she is fulfilling her vision of a resilient rural North Carolina. We are very grateful for her service in the field, and honored to name her the Carolinas RALA Winner. Congratulations, Holly!
John Fear, Honorable Mention for Building Capacity and Fostering Connectivity
Deputy Director, North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Water Resources Research Institute
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
John Fear’s vision is a key asset for North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute. John’s leadership as Deputy Director has shaped each program to meet crucial needs in the state. As part of National Sea Grant visioning efforts, John has helped set the stage for discussion on climate change and adaptation, integrating climate change into strategic plans and daily operations. John chairs the North Carolina Sentinel Site Cooperative, which focuses on climate change impacts along the state’s central coast. Utilizing local ecological knowledge, residents provide valuable historical context in research projects, participate in current citizen science efforts and offer input during planning sessions. A creative expression of this engagement is the innovative RISING project, which uses fine art photography and oral histories to stimulate discussions of environmental changes that include community members and scientists.
The North Carolina Community Collaborative Research Grant Program exemplifies John’s ability to identify needs, work with colleagues to develop solutions, and leverage partnerships to accomplish goals. John recognizes there is a significant training component needed to underpin adaptation practice and planning efforts. John is a mentor and facilitator for graduate studies, leading North Carolina Sea Grant, Water Resources Research Institute and Sentinel Sites programs to provide strong research experiences for students. John also coordinates recruitment and review of applications for national fellowships in marine policy, coastal management and fisheries management. Combined, these state and national fellowships offer graduate students critical opportunities to approach challenges such as climate change — and development of related adaptations — from real-world perspectives that demand interdisciplinary approaches. We are pleased to recognize John for his ability to build capacity and foster collaboration. Congratulations, John!
Steven Frank is an internationally recognized Entomologist known for his work to understand how urban heat islands affect tree health and pest populations, and whether the effects of urban warming can predict the effects of global warming and climate change. As trees are critical to mitigate urban heat islands, remove air pollutants, and benefit human health, Steven’s mission is to understand why urban tree health declines and develop ways to sustain urban trees and ecosystem services. A hands-on climate adaptation leader training arborists, municipal foresters, landscape architects, government regulators and others, he envisions an adaptive urban environment that supports health and conservation.
Steven leads by example on innovative public communication and integrating adaptation into his work. He is a founding member of the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management working group, a regional consortium of horticulturists, plant pathologists, and entomologists. In response to a member survey identifying ambrosia beetles as the most economically costly nursery pests, Steven developed a system to alert growers by Twitter when beetles are active, and created a targeted insecticide spray technique and tool to reduce insecticide use. These practices, along with his protocols for managing water stress, have transformed how growers manage ambrosia beetles throughout the US.
Steven’s passion for his work creates enthusiasm among his stakeholders about tree care and research based adaptation to climate change. He has built trust with stakeholders, municipal leaders and the general public because of his innate curiosity and willingness to listen to others, learn from them, and develop tools and techniques to help solve their problems. We are pleased to recognize Steven for his innovative integration of adaptation into his field. Congratulations, Steven!
Read more about our 2018 RALA Winners in California, the Great Lakes and Northeast. We’d like to thank everyone who has helped to make this a successful effort to recognize the adaptation champions in the field. Congratulations to everyone, and thank you for all that you do in the field of adaptation!
The plan to develop a climate resilient Boston Harbor in the City of Boston, Massachusetts offers strategies for Boston’s 47-mile shoreline that will increase access and open space along the waterfront while better protecting the city during a major flooding event. The plan focuses on green infrastructure and natural solutions to lowering the severity of sea level rise and flooding from climate change. “Resilient Boston Harbor” invests in Boston’s waterfront with a proposed restructuring of Fort Point Channel, and development of coastal protection from East Boston to the Dorchester shoreline.
Regional Adaptation Leadership Awards
Congratulations to 2018 Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award honorees Chris Swanston, Matthew Gray, Jessica Hellmann and Heather Stirratt! Thank you for your contributions and leadership in the field of climate adaptation.
Director, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub
Chris Swanston is a leader among Great Lakes adaptation professionals, directing both the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) and USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub. Through his leadership, he has transformed the way many people approach climate adaptation in land management and forestry. His vision is clear: there is a need in the field to bridge the gap between science and action communities. Chris created the Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF) as an integrated approach for responding to climate change through partnerships, vulnerability assessments, adaptation resources, and real-world demonstrations.
As a strong communicator, he has built his team of one to a team of twenty. Vibrant with expertise in climate impacts modeling, ecosystem adaptation, and forest carbon management, the efficacy of the NIACS team has culminated into a high-performing, collaborative, and trusted organization dedicated to serving the needs of land owners and managers across the region. Thousands of natural resource professionals have learned about climate change adaptation through CCRF presentations, trainings, field tours, and more than 250 real-world demonstration projects that use the Adaptation Workbook. Prioritizing respect for local knowledge and individual landowners’ perspectives on managing risks, NIACS team members are coaches for smart adaptation decision-making. Chris’s ideas are central to the adaptation work done at NIACS, and these ideas have ensured success for many. We are honored to honor Chris Swanston as the Winner of the Great Lakes Regional Adaptation Leadership Award. Congratulations, Chris!
Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland
Since returning from a Fulbright in Mauritius and joining the staff of the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Matthew Gray has been working to both reduce greenhouse gases and increase resilience of the City of Cleveland. As a positive role model for other cities in the region, Matt has led efforts through the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network to create a template for climate change vulnerability assessments to help other cities move forward on climate adaptation. Matt has revamped the Cleveland Carbon Fund to include adaptation work, and co-leads an effort to develop a regional network of cities working on climate adaptation to streamline adaptation efforts.
Matt has worked tirelessly to promote equitable adaptation in Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan and has reached out to numerous city departments to encourage climate change mitigation and adaptation in internal planning efforts. As a city liaison forging strong relationships among organizations in Cleveland to support and carry the work forward, he organizes learning events with partners and an annual Sustainability Summit that brings together leaders from across the city to discuss priorities. We are happy to recognize this work that is so beneficial not only to the people of Cleveland, but to the entire region. Congratulations, Matt!
Director, University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE)
Jessica Hellmann is an Ecologist studying the effects of climate and other global changes on ecosystems and the people who depend on them. She is dedicated to finding solutions to environmental threats that improve human livelihoods and ecosystem health. A civic leader dedicated to integrating climate adaptation into other fields, she regularly advises organizations such as the Great Plains Institute, Climate Generation and other nonprofits about often-overlooked strategies for adapting to climate change. Jessica envisions a network of change agents for climate adaptation with broad reach within and outside academia. Through her leadership of IonE and the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, she asserts that powerful networks informed by research and education are what is needed to create a hopeful, climate adaptive future. Jessica has taken the Urban Adaptation Assessment to the next level of impact and effectiveness by expanding it to 240 cities in the U.S., integrating a novel approach to measuring social equity.
Additionally, Jessica has led research showing changing climate conditions can influence both species distribution and the rate of evolution by examining modern day and museum butterfly species. Emphasizing her ability to learn and teach on the fly as a skilled science communicator, Jessica is routinely called upon by leading media outlets around the world such as CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to adaptation and ways to minimize adverse impacts to people and nature. We are very grateful for her contributions to the field of adaptation and her presence in the Great Lakes region. Congratulations, Jessica!
Tune in to hear Director Jessica Hellmann present her vision for the future of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.
Great Lakes Lead for NOAA’s National Ocean Service at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management
Twin Cities, MN
Heather Stirratt’s work on climate change adaptation motivates communities across the Great Lakes Region. From her NOAA National Ocean Service office in Twin Cities, MN, she has worked with researchers, municipalities, and students to ensure communities receive the support that they need to advance climate-informed decisions at multiple scales. Heather sees the need for broad capacity building. She has acted on this vision through the development of the Great Lakes Climate Training toolkit and of city and neighborhood specific resources in collaboration with the Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative. Heather has a demonstrable ability to think holistically about climate change and its related impacts. She is remarkably capable at bringing together the branches of federal government to serve the needs of the whole region.
A natural engagement specialist, Heather brings people together for a common cause, routinely communicates complex challenges, and truly meets people where they are. Her ability to build and work within teams from across a range of federal agencies — as well as coordinate numerous regional NOAA activities — highlight her power of persuasion and tenacity. When she brings together this potent combination it leads to successfully implemented projects, groundbreaking reports, and successful, engaging events. Her ability to summon resources makes her a terrific ally on a project and one of the most effective adaptation professionals in the Great Lakes region. We are very happy to award her with this Special Recognition for her contributions to the field of adaptation. Congratulations, Heather!
AB 3012 authorizes the State Coastal Conservancy to address climate change impacts on California’s coastal resources through funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address extreme weather events, sea level rise, storm surge, beach and bluff erosion, salt water intrusion, flooding, and other coastal hazards that threaten coastal communities, infrastructure, and natural resources.
The City of Boston, Massachusetts is implementing many coastal resilience projects through the Climate Ready Boston program. This project tracker maps and describes a number of these progressive approaches to coastal resilience. The projects included in this tool are recommendations from the coastal resilience solutions plans for East Boston, Charlestown and South Boston.
In the latest episode of our ASAP Mentorship Program, we learn that a common theme that has come out of this mentorship pair’s discussions is the need for creative, out of the box thinking for solving complex problems. Vidya Balasubramanyam (Mentee) is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow working in New Hampshire’s coastal communities. She leads the Smart Shorelines project to inform the siting and socialization of living shorelines in New Hampshire. Josh Foster (Mentor) is an adaptation consultant and active ASAP Board Member who has over 25 years of experience working on climate change science, policy, and adaptation in the federal and non-profit sectors.