Coastal Resiliency: Adapting to Climate Change in Hampton Roads, Virginia

This report provides a summary of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission’s (HRPDC) Coastal Resiliency work for FY2012 and FY2013 with a focus on the impact of sea level rise on the region’s transportation infrastructure. HRPDC coastal resiliency and sea level programs have been funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZMP) and Virginia Sea Grant (VSG) as well as contributions from local governments in Hampton Roads.

This project had three overall goals:

  • continue working to develop useful geographic information systems (GIS) tools for local  governments to use when planning for sea level rise,
  • research and identify ways local governments incorporate planning for sea level rise into their existing plans and policies, and
  • continue outreach and coordination efforts with regional stakeholders on sea level rise and related issues.

The report first describes global sea level rise scenarios and projections, including recent scientific findings related to the acceleration of sea level rise, and then details how adaptive management and other planning paradigms can be used to plan for sea level rise. The report addresses how local governments can plan for sea level rise in their existing planning processes, and describes efforts to update sea level rise inundation maps with new elevation data.  A summary of the project’s activities, findings, and recommendations concludes the report.

The ‘Sea level rise planning’ section describes adaptive management in the context of transportation vulnerabilities and strategies. The ‘Incorporating sea level rise adaptation into local plans’ section addresses how sea level rise planning and adaptation can be implemented with existing municipal planning processes. The report explains these “natural opportunities” for local governments to begin integrating sea level rise planning - including those that result in local comprehensive plans, vulnerability assessments, capital improvement programs, and zoning ordinances. Resiliency, smart growth, and ‘No Adverse Impact’ approaches to local development are described also.

The fifth Appendix contains an excerpt from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guidance on how to incorporate sea level rise into projects in coastal areas.


Publication Date: July 2013

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