SEA LEVEL RISE
Sea Level Rise Defined
Human-contributed greenhouse gases have warmed the planet and global temperatures have jumped significantly since the Industrial Revolution. As the earth’s water has warmed and expanded, and as ice has melted, it has increased the volume of the oceans with a resulting Sea Level Rise (SLR) and as a result, it seems that the oceans are rising at an accelerated pace. Recent climate change and variability scientific prediction indicates that 3 to 7 inches of Sea Level Rise (SLR) can be expected to occur by the 2030. Peninsular Florida is specifically “vulnerable “to the impacts of SLR.
Civil and transportation infrastructure vulnerability to climate change and climate variability has become a priority concern for coastal communities given the potential for coastal flooding, damage and disruption in drainage, sewers (water/waste water), and transportation services. The inevitability of SLR means that in the future, humans will have to rethink, rebuild, and relocate infrastructural systems, potable water sources, and in some cases entire communities.
Factors for determining the vulnerability of civil/transportation infrastructure vary across municipalities and common factors include the age of the infrastructure element, condition/integrity of the infrastructure element, proximity to other infrastructure elements, and the level of service.
Incorporation of climate change impacts into municipal Capital Improvement Project (CIP) development decisions is still a relatively new concept, as decision makers have taken a “wait and see” attitude with ever increasing information on climate change effects and how these may or may not impact their core program missions. However, there are existing management planning tools and approaches for guidance regarding “vulnerability” assessments. To date, three closely-related approaches are often used to assist elected officials and infrastructure managers/decision makers consider and prepare for future climate impacts: vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, and adaptation assessment.
- Vulnerability assessment - begins with the identification of existing stressors facing municipal and transportation systems and projects how climate change will impact and/or introduce new stressors in the future. The findings of the assessment can then be ranked to assess, prioritize, and address vulnerabilities.
- Risk assessment - evaluates the likelihood and consequence of climate-related impacts on municipal transportation and civil infrastructure. Risk assessment tools are rooted in engineering applications that will quantify the product of the probabilities of exposure and vulnerability. Risk assessment provides policymakers and decision makers with guidance based on quantitative analysis of the level of risk associated with changing climate conditions.
- Adaptation assessment - identifies, plans, prioritizes, implements, and measures civil/transportation infrastructure management options available for effectively adapting to climate change impacts. This assessment addresses ways to reduce civil/transportation infrastructure vulnerability, increase resilience and/or highlight regions of retreat.
WRMA applies these approaches in assessing climate change impacts on municipal civil and transportation infrastructure. WRMA helps clients assess, adapt and achieve resiliency against hydrology/hydraulic changes, environmental and ecological changes, disasters, and other risks associated with climate change and sea level rise.
WRMA understand the significant threat posed by SLR and coastal land subsidence to flood protection structures, storm sewers, ecosystems, and coastal residential communities. By leveraging its numerical H&H/coastal modelling tools including a digital elevation models, extensive knowledge base and experience in the field, WRMA is able to analyze the impact of storm surge on low-lying areas, evaluate the resistance and/or resiliency of shorelines/seawalls roadways and buildings against SLR and thereby provide a comprehensive risk assessment of any coastal zone or other low-lying areas. Examples of our services include:
- Performing a vulnerability assessment including a GIS analysis and providing maps and visualizations showing the impact of projected SLR in coastal areas. A digital terrain model (DTM) representing the “bare earth” surface condition is prepared from multiple data sources for the analysis including LiDAR and RADAR imagery.
- The interaction of modeled surfaces and the DTM is mapped, and 3-D buildings representing the infrastructure features are draped on aerial photography, for visualizing rising sea levels. A 2and 3-D visualization is generated of the interaction of the current and/or predicted year. Graphics include perspective views of infrastructure flooding under the two scenarios in addition to plan views of the flood boundaries to show what the area will look like under these conditions.
- Performing risk assessment ICPR4-2D H&H modeling of the SLR impact on existing and/or proposed storm water management system of storm sewers, control structures, pumps, etc.
- Performing adaptation management and design analysis and associated cost estimation analysis. These include the installation of flap gates or in-line flood-prevention valves for storm outfalls, forward low head pump stations to assist with upland drainage/stormsewer discharge during high/king tides, seawalls and a combination of these elements.
WRMA can translate these SLR analyses into cost-effective CIP development that takes into account the ongoing climate change/SLR impacts to the existing civil/transportation infrastructure.
Please contact us or visit WRMA's projects page to learn more about WRMA's prior project experience in performing proactive vulnerability and risk assessment planning, and adaptation retrofit design for private and municipal infrastructure projects.