Summary of Potential Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation Strategies in the Metropolitan Washington Region (Washington D.C.)

Subtitled 'A synopsis of lessons learned from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (COGs') climate adaptation planning initiatives from 2010 - 2012,' this report is intended to identify effects of climate change in the region, and encourage local resiliency planning. This is part of an ongoing project with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Sustainable Communities to create an EPA guidebook on smart growth and climate adaptation. The report summarizes key information that has been learned throughout the process of working with EPA, stakeholders and climate experts on the development of the guidebook. Much of the information on climate impacts reflects that which was presented by the climate experts at COG's Climate Impacts Symposium in May 2012. 

COG staff conducted a preliminary vulnerability assessment to identify possible impacts of climate change to transportation, land use, buildings, and water sectors. Transportation includes roadways, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes. Land use includes buildings and developed, agricultural, and natural areas. Water includes water quality and watershed management, water supply, and wastewater/stormwater/potable water-related infrastructure planning.

The climate impacts specific to the region open the report, including overall trends in temperature and precipitation, sea level rise, floods, Chesapeake Bay warming, urban heat island effects, and more. Further results from the assessments are then described, where the vulnerabilities listed have implications for maintenance and operations, capital investments, planning, environment and society. 

The report suggests climate adaptation measures for each of the transportation, land use, buildings, and water sectors. This section lists several climate adaptation and risk reduction options for each sector that aim to address potential vulnerabilities to climate change impacts. Pertinent measures were drawn from regional and national best practices, with a focus on planning rather than response.


The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) is an independent, nonprofit association that brings area leaders together to address major regional issues in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. COG’s membership is comprised of 300 elected officials from 22 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, and U.S. Congress.

Publication Date: June 2013

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