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Sea Level Rise Planning Tool

More than 8 million people live in areas at risk of coastal flooding. Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast alone, almost 60 percent of the land that is within a meter of sea level is planned for further development, with inadequate information on the potential rates and amount of sea level rise.

Global sea level rise has been a persistent trend for decades. It is expected to continue beyond the end of this century, which will cause significant impacts in the United States. Scientists have very high confidence (greater than 90% chance) that global mean sea level will rise at least 8 inches (0.2 meter) and no more than 6.6 feet (2.0 meters) by 2100. Many of the nation's assets related to military readiness, energy, commerce, and ecosystems that support resource-dependent economies are already located at or near the ocean, thus exposing them to risks associated with sea level rise.

Using the best available science and data, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and several Federal agencies through their partnership within the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) have jointly developed tools to help state and local officials, community planners, and infrastructure managers understand possible future flood risks from sea level rise and use that information in planning decisions. IWR’s Climate and Global Change Team has been participating in these efforts.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed a Sea-Level Rise Calculator to assist in developing information to support its sea-level change policy, which supports the USACE overarching climate change adaptation policy. This tool has been modified to support the Sea Level Rise Planning Tool using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC 2013) scenarios to help people rapidly assess what the coming changes could look like.

Climate Change and Water Working Group

The Federal Climate Change and Water Working Group (CCAWWG) was established in 2008 by the Bureau of Reclamation, USACE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The working group's (fact sheet, pdf 258 KB) objectives include:

  • Working with the water management community to understand their needs.
  • Fostering collaborative efforts across the Federal and non-federal scientific community to address their needs in a way that capitalizes on interdisciplinary expertise, shares information, and avoids duplication.

The working group is pursuing many collaborative efforts including:

  • Working with the Federal and non-federal water management community to identify the most critical gaps This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site. in our capability to forecast and adapt to climate change.
  • Developing good practice guidelines for assessing the portfolio of possible approaches for producing and using climate change information for water resource adaptation questions.
  • Performing collaborative studies to identify research and technology development gaps and suggest approaches to fill these gaps.
  • Conducting pilot and demonstration projects to test and refine consistent methods to mainstream climate adaptation.
  • Engaging in a dialog in which decision-making informs climate science research priorities
  • Instituting an authoritative training venue that can facilitate translating and applying emerging science and technical capabilities into water resource planning and technical studies.

The working group is focused on helping the water management community adapt practices as climate changes.  The principal Federal water management agencies are the Bureau of Reclamation and USACE, with Bureau of Reclamation primarily being a water supply agency and the USACE primarily a flood control and waterway navigation agency.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the primary Federal science agency responsible for understanding and predicting short and long-term climate variations, while the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the primary Federal agency that engages in surface water, ground water and aquatic species sciences.  Collectively, these four agencies span all aspects of the hydrologic cycle and are currently the four core Federal agencies of the working group.

Interagency Forum on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations

NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers co-host an informal forum on climate change impacts and adaptations. This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site. The forum is attended by numerous agencies. It provides a venue for presentations and discussions on issues common across agencies relating to the impacts of climate change on:

  • agency resources and operations
  • adaptations of agency activities, facilities or lands to respond to these impacts

Relevant new publications and reports from participating agencies and from sources such as the U.S. Global Change Science Program Office, the Government Accountability Office, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Pew and Heinz Centers are regularly presented and discussed at this forum. Meetings are held periodically in the Washington D.C. area. Interested parties can join forum sessions in person or by telephone. For more information, contact ccforum@fedcenter.gov.

Other Federal Agencies

Many of the needs and capabilities associated with water management are common to other Federal resource management, regulatory or science agencies.  We actively attempt to identify linkages and pursue collaboration in areas of common interest.  For example, how climate change will influence the social and economic dynamics of water demand has been identified as an important knowledge gap.  To address this gap area, working group agencies are pursuing a research collaboration that currently includes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), Economic Research Service (ERS), Agriculture Research Service (ARS); Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS); Bureau of Indian Affairs; National Park Service; and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Other Organizations

USACE works closely with regional, nongovernmental and quasi-governmental organizations in evaluating and responding to climate change. These include such organizations as The Nature Conservancy You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information., the Water Utility Climate Alliance You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information., the National Academy of Public Administration You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information., the National Academy of Sciences You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information., and the National Research Council You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click this icon for more information..

State and Local Entities

State and local utilities, including agricultural water districts, user groups and stakeholder organizations are also significant members of the water community affected by climate change.  Their perspectives are vitally important to creating effective and efficient research and technology development agendas; and their collaborative participation is being sought.

Federal Agency Sponsors

Bureau of Reclamation    
Executive Sponsors: Karl Wirkus, Michael Gabaldon    
Program Managers: Curt Brown, Chuck Hennig

EPA
Sponsors: to be announced

FEMA
Sponsors: to be announced

USACE
Executive Sponsors:  Steve Stockton, Bob Pietrowsky
Program Managers: Kate White, Rolf Olsen

USGS  
Executive Sponsors:  Tom Armstrong, Matt Larsen, Sue Hazeltine  
Program Managers: Earl Greene, Robin Schrock

NOAA                                   
Executive Sponsors: Chet Koblinsky, Steve Murawski
Program Managers:  Robert Webb, John Stein

 

revised 20 June 2013

 

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