Sea Level Rise Adaptation: Emerging Lessons for Local Policy Development

This technical report analyzes the steps 14 coastal jurisdictions took to develop sea level rise adaptation initiatives. From the Marine Policy Institute at the Mote Marine Laboratory, the report synthesizes information for coastal planners interested in how other communities have started to adapt to rising seas.

Many coastal communities across the United States are beginning to plan for climate-related sea level rise. While impacts and solutions will vary with local conditions, jurisdictions which have begun this process seem to pass through three common stages when developing policy for local sea  level rise adaptation: 1) building awareness about local sea level rise threats, 2) undertaking analyses of local vulnerabilities, and 3) developing plans and policies to deal with these vulnerabilities.

The purpose of this paper is to help advance community dialogue and further inform local decision-makers about key elements and steps for addressing climate-related sea level rise. It summarizes the results of a project the Marine Policy Institute undertook during 2011-12 to review experiences from fourteen U.S. coastal jurisdictions representing a variety of city, county, and state efforts with sea level adaptation. There are many more initiatives underway than those reflected in this sample, but the “focus jurisdictions” were selected because of the extensive information publicly available on their experiences and lessons being learned that could provide insights for coastal communities.

The jurisdictions reviewed for this project and described in the report include: 
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Area, FL; City of Punta Gorda, FL; City of Satellite Beach, FL; Lee County, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; Delaware Coasts; Hawaiian Islands Coasts; New Jersey Coasts; Rhode Island Coasts; San Diego Bay Area, CA; San Francisco Bay Area, CA; Somerset County, MD; Worchester County, MD; and the City of Olympia, WA.  



Publication Date: December 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Marine Policy Institute, Mote Marine Laboratory


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study


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