State of the Beach/State Reports/NY/Erosion Response
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Erosion response is a measure of how well a state's policies and procedures limit the extent of shoreline armoring, unsafe coastal development, and costly beach nourishment projects, and conduct preemptive planning for sea level rise. Evaluation of this indicator brings attention to the states that are taking proactive roles in natural beach preservation and hazard avoidance. Through the formulation (if not already in place), implementation, and strict adherence of the specific criteria within the indicator, states can overcome two fundamental obstacles to alternative erosion response practices outlined by the Oceans Studies Board (2007):
- A lack of knowledge and experience among decision-makers regarding alternative options for shoreline erosion response, the relative level of erosion mitigation afforded by the alternative approaches and their expected life time, and the nature of the associated impacts and benefits.
- The current legal and regulatory framework itself, which discriminates against innovative solutions because of the complex and lengthy permitting process that almost always considers these options on a case-by-case basis.
For example, are statewide oceanfront construction setbacks used to site new development, and are these based on the latest erosion rates? When existing development is damaged during a storm, does a state prohibit reconstruction or provide incentives for relocation? Before permitting shoreline stabilization does a state require: that there is demonstrated need via geo-technical reports with content standards; that alternatives to armoring including managed retreat/relocation are fully explored; and that potential adverse impacts and cumulative effects are taken into account? Does the state conduct sea level rise vulnerability assessments and develop adaptation plans to mitigate impacts? If a state can answer 'yes' to most of these questions, then its rank is high. If the answers are mostly 'no' then its rank is low.
Also see the "Policies" discussion of the Shoreline Structures section of this report for more information on New York's erosion response.
Possible quantitative measures for this indicator include the number of new structures located within setback areas, number of damaged structures reconstructed in identified erosion zones, number of instances where alternatives to 'hard' shore protection were employed, the number of shoreline structures permitted under 'emergency' provisions, and the number of permits for shoreline structures reviewed, approved or denied. We have found that such information is rarely available.
Policies and Guidance
New York’s Coastal Erosion Hazards Area Act requires New York to establish two setback lines along the state’s shoreline. The natural protective feature line is defined by the morphologic features found along a shoreline which provide natural protection to upland features. For example, the setback line exists 25 feet back from the coastal dunes. The structural hazard line is determined based on the projected local coastal erosion for the next 40 years. Only where erosion rates are greater than 1 ft/yr, a structural hazard line is defined. Such a line is defined along the Great Lakes shoreline, but nowhere does the rate of erosion exceed 1 ft/yr on Long Island Sound, so the structural hazard line does not exist there. On the south shore of Long Island, the line was never established.
The Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) Permit Program provides written approval of regulated activities or land disturbance to properties within the coastal erosion hazard areas within the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC's) jurisdiction. The Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas Law (Environmental Conservation Law Article 34) empowers DEC to identify and map coastal erosion hazard areas and to adopt regulations (6 NYCRR Part 505) to control certain activities and development in those areas. The backbone of these regulations is a permitting system aimed specifically at all regulated activities or land disturbance within the coastal erosion hazard areas. The construction or placement of a structure, or any action or use of land which materially alters the condition of land, including grading, excavating, dumping, mining, dredging, filling or any disturbance of soil is a regulated activity requiring a Coastal Erosion Management Permit. The permit provides written approval granted by DEC or a local government, whichever has the jurisdiction. There are 86 coastal communities in NYS that currently fall under CEHA jurisdiction. The law allows local communities to administer their own CEHA program. 42 communities have been certified by DEC and have their own coastal erosion hazard area law. The other 44 communities are managed by DEC.
Coastal erosion hazard areas are prone to coastal erosion and have been identified and mapped. The Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) maps delineate the boundaries of erosion hazard areas that are subject to regulation 6 NYCRR Part 505. These maps are issued by the DEC commissioner. Mapped areas currently include the shorelines of Lakes Erie and Ontario, the entire coastline of Long Island, and the Atlantic Ocean coastline of New York City. If you would like to get an existing map to see if a property is within the coastal erosion hazard area, please contact Sue McCormick or Matt Chlebus at 518-402-8185. Maps are also available at Regional DEC offices and at local building departments of certified communities.
The website for the Office of Communities and Waterfronts has information on coastal hazards, including Coastal Resilience Planning , Natural Protective Features, Summary of Coastal Hazards Issues, After the Storm – 5 things your community can do, and Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Adaptation.
In the past, agencies usually pursued single purpose programs without considering their interrelationships or combined effect on the coastal area. The Coastal Management Program provides the basis for coordinating these programs, in part by spelling out 44 policies. All State agencies are now required to advance these policies toward their logical conclusion, not allowing one policy to override another. More specifically, the use of this particular set of additional criteria as embodied in the 44 policies requires agencies to take into account the interrelationships that exist and/or should exist in the coastal area - not just interrelationships evident in a single ecosystem, i.e., wetlands, but the coastal area as a whole. This approach is designed to assure that future actions in the coastal area will, at a minimum, not interfere with the State's long term commitment to achieving for society the most beneficial use of coastal resources. Each of the 44 policy statements either promotes the beneficial use of coastal resources, prevents their impairment, or deals with major activities that substantially affect numerous resources. In all cases State agencies are required to adhere to each policy statement as much as is legally and physically possible. Three of the policies are discussed below.
New York State Coastal Policy 11 states:
Buildings and other structures will be sited in the coastal area so as to minimize damage to property and the endangering of human lives caused by flooding and erosion. On coastal lands identified as coastal erosion hazard areas, buildings and similar structures shall be set back from the shoreline a distance sufficient to minimize damage from erosion unless no reasonable prudent alternative site is available as in the case of piers, docks and other structures necessary to gain access to coastal waters to be able to function. The extent of the setback will be calculated, taking into account the rate at which land is receding due to erosion, and the protection provided by existing erosion protection structures, as well as by natural protective features such as beaches, sandbars, spits, shoals, barrier islands, bay barriers, nearshore areas, bluffs and wetlands. The only new structure allowed in coastal erosion hazard areas is a moveable structure as defined in Section 505.3(u) of the regulations for ECL, Article 34. Prior to its construction, an erosion hazard areas permit must be approved for the structure. Existing, non-conforming structures located in coastal erosion hazard areas may be only minimally enlarged.
State setback requirements are generally 25 feet from the landward toe of a dune, 100 feet from the beach (if no dune exists), and 25 feet from the receding edge of a bluff.
New York State Coastal Policy 12 states:
Activities or development in the coastal area will be undertaken so as to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion by protecting natural protective features including beaches, dunes, barriers islands and bluffs.
New York State Policy 13 states:
The construction or reconstruction of erosion protection structures shall be undertaken only if they have a reasonable probability of controlling erosion for at least thirty years as demonstrated in design and construction standards and/or assured maintenance or replacement programs.
New York State Policy 14 states:
Activities and development, including the construction or reconstruction of erosion protection structures, shall be undertaken so that there will be no measurable increase in erosion or flooding at the site of such activities or development, or at other locations.
New York State Policy 16 states:
Public funds shall only be used for erosion protective structures where necessary to protect human life, and new development which requires a location within or adjacent to an erosion hazard area to be able to function, or existing development; and only where the public benefits outweigh the long term monetary and other costs including the potential for increasing erosion and adverse effects on natural protective features.
New York State Coastal Policy 17 states:
Non-structural measures to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion shall be used whenever possible.
"Non-structural measures" shall include, but not be limited to:
- Within coastal erosion hazard areas identified under Section 34-104, Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas Act (Article 34, Environmental Conservation Law), and subject to the permit requirements on all regulated activities and development established under that law, (a) the use of minimum setbacks as provided for in Section 34-108; and (b) the strengthening of coastal landforms by the planting of appropriate vegetation on dunes and bluffs, the installation of sand fencing on dunes, the reshaping of bluffs to achieve an appropriate vegetation on dunes and bluffs, the installation of sand fencing on dunes, the reshaping of bluffs to achieve an appropriate angle of repose so as to reduce the potential for slumping and to permit the planting of stabilization vegetation, and the installation of drainage systems on bluffs to reduce runoff and internal seepage of waters which erode or weaken the land forms; and
- Within identified flood hazard areas, (a) the avoidance of risk or damage from flooding by the siting of buildings outside the hazard area, and (b) the flood-proofing of buildings or their elevation above the base flood level."
Additional information on flooding and erosion and other coastal hazards can be found on the website of the Department of State Office of Communities and Waterfronts.
Other Policies or Guidance
There are several pertinent regulations in New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Part 505: Coastal Erosion Management.
If non-conforming structures (existing structures that do not comply with current building codes and/or land use restrictions) near the coast in erosion hazard areas are damaged more than 50% of their value, they cannot be rebuilt in the hazard area.
Section 505.8(b) Beaches. The following restrictions and requirements apply to regulated activities on beaches:
- (1) Excavating, grading or mining which diminishes the erosion protection afforded by beaches is prohibited.
- (2) All development is prohibited on beaches unless specifically allowed by this subdivision.
A coastal erosion management permit is required for new construction, modification or restoration of docks, piers, wharves, groins, jetties, seawalls, bulkheads, breakwaters, revetments and artificial beach nourishment. Docks, piers, wharves or structures built on floats, columns, open timber, piles or similar open-work supports having a top surface area of 200 square feet or less, or docks, piers, wharves or other structures built on floats and removed in the fall of each year, are excepted from this permit requirement.
A coastal erosion management permit is required for construction, modification or restoration of erosion protection structures, including the modification or restoration of erosion protection structures that were constructed without a coastal erosion management permit.
NOTE: In the wake of Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) DEC issued a General Permit for the coastal areas of Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. Approved projects include stabilizing existing dwellings, decks and walkways with temporary bracing and pilings; installing sandbags or sand cubes at the toe of damaged structures or eroded escarpments; re-grading eroded dunes; in-kind/in-place repair of stairways; reconstruction of bulkheads and shoreline erosion structures that were functional before Hurricane Sandy; and repair or reconstruction of existing public roads, bridges, utilities and other public infrastructure.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would expand its evacuation zones, revise building codes and look for ways to better protect critical infrastructure like transportation and electrical networks from future natural disasters. He also said the city would consider the construction of dunes, jetties, levees and berms along coastal areas to help reduce damage from future storm surges. Height restrictions on some residential homes will be relaxed so owners can elevate their houses above the flood plain, and the city will update its building code to require more stringent protection against floods.
Bloomberg's plans were announced in more detail in June 2013. They include building an extensive network of flood walls, levees and bulkheads along New York City's 520 miles of coast. The mayor said the plan would initially cost about $20 billion, and eventually far more. The city would spend the money on fortifying infrastructure like the power grid, renovating buildings to withstand hurricanes and defending the shore, according to a 438-page report on the proposals. Along some parts of the coast, stone or concrete bulkheads would be installed, while in other places, dune systems would be built.
An article Storm Panel Recommends Major Changes in New York appeared in the NY Times on January 6, 2013. From the article:
"A new commission formed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charged with figuring out how New York should adapt in the long term to cope with worsening storms amid climate change and population growth, has recommended an extensive menu of programs: it includes turning some of the state’s industrial shoreline back into oyster beds, hardening the electric and natural gas systems, and improving the scope and availability of insurance coverage, according to a draft version obtained by The New York Times.
The NYS 2100 commission, one of four that Mr. Cuomo established in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, is tasked with evaluating and recommending changes to the state’s infrastructure to better prepare for the harsher weather expected in the future.
Its broad 175-page study says the state should consider storm barriers with movable gates that would span the Narrows, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, and endorses a variety of “soft infrastructure” investments like building dunes and wetlands and oyster reefs, which were more prevalent along New York’s coastline in the 1800s."
Here are links to the Executive Summary and Recommendations sections of draft report.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other storms, the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program was established to facilitate community redevelopment planning and the resilience of communities, and $25 million was allocated for planning in the most affected communities.
In January 2013 FEMA released a new Advisory Base Flood Elevations Map ("flood maps") for coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. As a result, an estimated 35,000 homeowners in New York and surrounding areas whose dwellings were lashed by Hurricane Sandy will now have the choice of either raising their houses by several feet or face skyrocketing flood insurance premiums.
In February 2013 Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed to spend as much as $400 million to purchase homes wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, have them demolished and then preserve the flood-prone land permanently, as undeveloped coastline.
Vehicular use is limited on beaches and other areas designated as natural protective features in Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas, and by local government regulation to protect certain shoreline areas and for public safety, where appropriate (Environmental Conservation Law, Article 34, Laws of 1981).
Although real estate disclosure laws do not require a property owner to disclose if a property is located in a high erosion area, they do require a property owner to disclose if the property is located in a designated floodplain. Many high erosion areas are in designated flood plains.
Coastal Erosion Management regulations can be found here.
Good general information on flooding and erosion hazards, with multiple links to additional detailed sources of information can be found here.
DOS is working on a project to define the content and process for preparing Post-Storm Redevelopment Plans, with the help of a Coastal Fellow funded by NOAA. The project deadline was September 2010. Preliminary guidance and products are now available. If a community wishes to prepare plans addressing coastal hazards, including sea level rise and climate change adaptation, they may apply through DOS for an Environmental Protection Fund grant which would provide funding on a cost shared basis. Contact Barry Pendergrass at (518) 486-3277 or Barry.Pendergrass@dos.state.ny.us for further information.
As part of its Living Coasts Program, The Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) announced in January 2009 that it had awarded $1,212,000 to researchers working in North Carolina and New York who are evaluating the costs and benefits of different approaches to erosion prevention in sheltered coastlines. Each project is focused on understanding the environmental and economic tradeoffs of alternative erosion control measures.
Led by the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), the New York project focuses on 300 miles of shoreline in the northern Hudson River Estuary. It combines research, analysis, and outreach to better understand the tradeoffs associated with using erosion prevention measures to protect the Hudson River’s sheltered coastlines from the impacts of rising sea levels, increased storm surges, and waves. Integrated closely with regional climate change response and ecosystem protection initiatives, this project is comparing the physical attributes and habitat functions of selected biota in six types of shoreline. Investigators will quantify long-term costs and impacts associated with vegetative approaches, hard engineered structures, and land management measures, such as land regulation, planning measures, or land acquisition.
The Coastal Resilience project provides a decision support platform to better inform a process for decision-making and the implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation solutions. The website provides information on What Can Be Done?, a Web mapping tool that illustrates future scenarios, and an explanation of the issue for the vulnerable coastline of Long Island Sound. Also see here.
EPA has published a summary document Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: New York (2010).
Assessing future risk: quantifying the effects of sea level rise on storm surge risk for the southern shores of Long Island, New York was published in the journal Natural Hazards in January 2012.
An innovative approach to "naturally" guard New York City from hurricanes and storm surge is presented in A Plan To Hurricane-Proof New York, With A Ring Of Wetlands. The concept consists of a soft grade of wetlands surrounding the island that would buffer the city from storm surge, buttressed by a porous street system built to absorb rainfall and channel it back into the harbor. Water, sewer, gas, and electric services would be relocated to accessible, waterproof vaults beneath the sidewalk.
The website Re-Think the Coast was created by Surfrider Foundation to educate and inform the public and our government about the importance of strategic thinking and planning when it comes to rebuilding New York's coastline.
Coastal Barrier Resources Act
The federal Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA), passed in 1982, was designed to "minimize the loss of human life, wasteful expenditure of federal revenues, and the damage to fish, wildlife and other natural resources" by denying federal support for everything from sewer construction to flood insurance in undeveloped or little-developed coastal areas such as barrier islands. CBRA does not restrict development in these areas, but it indirectly discourages development by denying the use of federal funds for development projects or redevelopment after storm or flood damage. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers this program, which identified 1.3 million acres of coastal land to be covered by the act. Unfortunately, pressure by property owners and developers in these areas has lead Congress to pass dozens of exemption bills which exclude certain areas from CBRA, thus thwarting the intent of the Act.
The Coastal Barrier Improvement Act (CBIA) was enacted on November 16, 1990. The CBIA resulted in reauthorization of the CBRA of 1982. The CBRA establishes the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) to protect areas such as undeveloped coastal barrier islands. There is a discussion of CBRA on NOAA's web site that concludes:
"Although the removal of federal funding assistance has discouraged development in some coastal barrier islands, development has continued in other areas despite designation as a unit of the CBRS. CBIA is not intended to prevent or regulate development in high-risk areas; rather the intent is to direct that federal dollars not be spent for development in these areas. Activities conducted in areas adjacent to CBRS units may adversely impact these sensitive areas; these activities are not regulated under CBIA. In addition, CBIA does not restrict the use of private, local, or state funding within CBRS units. Some coastal states have initiated legislation that limits state funding of certain projects."
A report released in March 2007 reviews the extent to which (1) development has occurred in CBRS units since their inclusion in the system and (2) federal financial assistance and permits have been provided to entities in CBRS units. GAO electronically mapped address data for structures within 91 randomly selected CBRS units and collected information on federal financial assistance and permits for eight federal agencies. GAO found multiple federal agencies have provided some financial assistance to property owners in CBRS units that is expressly prohibited by CBRA; some assistance allowed under CBRA; and hundreds of permits for federally regulated development activities within the unit. GAO recommended, among other things, the four agencies that provided prohibited loan guarantees or insurance policies to CBRS units first verify and then cancel those that are in violation of CBRA.
On April 7, 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released to the public its Report to Congress: John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Digital Mapping Pilot Project. The report, which was directed by the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-514), highlights the benefits of updating Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) maps with more accurate and precise digital maps to better protect people, coastal areas and natural resources. A 2016 report is now available.
FEMA has now developed a fact sheet on CBRA. The fact sheet outlines the responsibilities and restrictions that various programs within FEMA have under CBRA.
Climate Change Adaptation
Climate change impacts will prove especially threatening to New York State’s coastal communities, economic sectors, and remaining ecosystems. Home to New York City, one of the most populated coastal cities in the world, the State has been forced to consider and implement effective adaptation strategies. A national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, New York has also helped lead the charge in climate change mitigation. Increasingly the state is growing more proactive in its response to climate change, and has undertaken numerous studies and initiatives targeting specific challenges and impediments to the state’s adaptation process. New York’s current coastal management policies and legislative mandates are particularly progressive in regards to sea-level rise and climate change adaptation, and include statewide coastal setbacks and coastal policies specifically accounting for sea level rise. With these mandates already on the books, New York has been able to avoid many of the bureaucratic hurdles obstructing the progress of other coastal states. The state has proved overwhelmingly responsive to sea level rise, even going so far as to form the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force. And in contrast to many coastal states, New York has already undertaken, or strongly considered, a policy of managed retreat at both the state and local levels.
Climate Central has launched States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card, the first-ever quantitative assessment that summarizes the changing nature of key threats linked to climate change and the corresponding levels of preparedness for related risks in each of the 50 states. The goal of the Report Card is to help states improve preparedness by recognizing climate-change risks, building an action plan, and implementing this plan. New York was one of five states that received a grade of “A.”
In 2001, Governor Pataki announced the formation of New York State’s Greenhouse Gas Task Force, charged with developing policy recommendations for greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. While the State had been pursuing various climate change mitigation initiatives prior to the governor’s announcement, creation of the Task Force represented one of the earliest measures to consolidate mitigation measures into a single strategic plan. On the same day, the governor also issued Executive Order 111, requiring State agencies to implement energy efficient practices at state buildings, increase the purchase of energy efficient products, and employ “green building” standards. The EO additionally encourages alternative energy production by mandating that State agencies purchase no less than 10% of the overall State facility energy requirements from renewable “green” power sources.
In April 2003, the Task Force, along with the Center for Clean Air Policy, released Recommendations to Governor Pataki for Reducing New York State Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Focused solely on climate change mitigation measures, the report sets forth aggressive GHG emissions reductions goals, including a statewide target to reduce GHG emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2010 and 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to a statewide GHG target, the report also suggested that New York advocate for federal action on climate change, implement the specific policies recommended in the report, and work aggressively to encourage neighboring states to pursue a coordinated strategy to reduce GHG emissions.
Executive Order No. 2, issued in 2008, created a State Energy Planning Board charged with creating a New York State Energy Plan to be completed by June 30, 2009. In issuing the EO, the Governor declared, "...the development, implementation, and periodic review of a sensible comprehensive energy plan will enable the State to determine its future energy needs and facilitate a deliberate, efficient, and cost-effective means of meeting those needs." The EO articulates specific requirements to be included in final Plan, including a statement of long-range energy policy objectives, assessment of costs & benefits when comparing sustainable alternatives to traditional energy sources, and an inventory of GHG emissions, among others. In order to assist in the development of the Energy Plan, the Board, in turn, created an Energy Coordinating Working Group (ECWG). The Executive Order and other documents relevant to the preparation of the Scope and 2009 NYS Energy Plan are posted on the website. See here.
In August 2009 Governor Patterson signed Executive Order 24, creating the New York Climate Action Council. The Council is charged with creating a draft Climate Action Plan by September 2010, which will cover mitigation and adaptation strategies for all economic sectors in the state. Also established within the Climate Action Council group is an Adaptation Technical Work Group (ADP TWG). The CAC released an Interim Report which was prepared with assistance from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and other CAC member-agency staff and the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) in November 2010. A New York State greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast has also been prepared.
The Office of Climate Change was created within the Department of Environmental Conservation, and is tasked with leading the development of programs and policies to address both mitigation and adaptation in the state. The Office is responsible for implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New York, as well as pursuing initiatives to help the state significantly reduce its GHG emissions while effectively adapting to climate change impacts, including sea level rise. More information can be found at the Office of Climate Change website.
New York is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a ten-state cooperative effort aimed at implementing a regional mandatory cap and trade program in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic that addresses CO2 emissions from power plants. As the first mandatory market-based program to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S., the program will cap regional power plan CO2 emissions at approximately current levels from 2009 through 2014, and reduce emissions 10% by 2019. The New York CO2 Budget Trading Program and the Auction Program took effect January 1, 2009, and three successful auctions of CO2 emissions allowances have been held. Auction proceeds will support investment of half a billion dollars in energy efficiency and clean technologies during the next 3 years in New York alone.
New York is also a board member of The Climate Registry, a national nonprofit partnership that has established a common system for recording and reporting GHG emissions. Currently, 21 New York public and private organizations have enrolled as Founding Reporters to The Climate Registry, committing them to emissions inventory and reporting under the Registry’s protocol.
New York City has also taken significant strides to reduce its GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, embarking on its sweeping PlanNYC initiative in December 2006. The Plan sets 10 key goals for the City’s sustainable future, focusing on the five key sectors of the city’s environment: land, air, water, energy, and transportation. Standing to be significantly affected by rising seas, increased temperatures, and increased energy demands, the City has published a number of mitigation and adaptation guidance documents, reports, and developed long-term plans to help the city more effectively respond to changing conditions. The City has additionally committed itself to reducing its CO2 emissions 30% by 2017. As part of PlanNYC, Mayor Bloomberg formed the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) in 2008.
The State of New York, as evident from the initiatives described above, fully acknowledges climate change and recognizes the threats its poses to its citizens, natural resources, and economic sectors. As such, the State maintains a climate change website through the Department of Environmental Conservation, detailing climate change science, providing educational materials, and describing and the actions New York is taking to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. A more complete list of State mitigation initiatives can be accessed here.
New York regulates coastal construction through the combined use of two setback lines: natural protective feature line and the structural hazard line (Coastal Erosion Hazards Area Act). Although these setbacks do not specifically address increased rates of sea-level rise, they play a major role in determining where future shoreline structures can and will be located.
- Natural Protective Feature Line is defined by the morphologic features found along a shoreline which provide natural protection to upland features. Setbacks vary from 25 to 100 feet landward, depending on the morphologic feature.
- Structural Hazard Line is determined based on the projected local coastal erosion for the next 40 years, but is only demarcated where erosion rates are greater than 1 ft/yr.
Structural Hazard Lines do not exist for Long Island Sound, as the rate of erosion does not exceed 1 ft/yr anywhere along the shoreline.
The New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force was created by the state Legislature in 2007 (Chapter 13 of the Laws of New York) to assess impacts to the state's coastlines from sea level rise and to recommend protective and adaptive measures for coastal communities and natural habitats. The Task Force is currently working to produce its final report, due by January 1, 2011. Initially the Report will provide recommendations relating to standards and enforcement in the areas of coastal development, wetlands protection, and shoreline armoring and post-storm recovery. Adaptive measure to protect and support the migration of habitats and species and recommendations on how to incorporate climate change impacts into state environmental agency plans will also be addressed. In order to more fully address this broad range of issues, the Sea Level Rise Task Force Steering Committee has organized into four workgroups: ecosystems & natural habitats, infrastructure & community resilience, legal, and public outreach. The geographic scope of the task force report will include the five boroughs of New York City and the counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk, in addition to the tidal waters of the Hudson River to the Federal Dam at Troy. To date, the Task force has published its Public Outreach Plan, and the Steering Committee Progress Report (as of November 2008), in addition to updated meeting minutes (as of April 9, 2010). More information can be found on the Task Force website.
New York City is also increasing its efforts to effectively respond to climate change. New York City’s PlanNYC, its long-term sustainability strategy, includes three main goals to help the City most effectively adapt to climate change impacts:
- Create an interagency task force to protect the city’s vital infrastructure, expanding adaptation strategies to include all essential city infrastructure
- Work with vulnerable neighborhoods to develop site-specific protection strategies
- Launch a citywide strategic planning process for climate change adaptation
The New York City Panel on Climate Change released Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response in May 2010. As a comprehensive adaptation guidance document, the report outlines major themes and best practices to be included in a comprehensive adaptation program. The report repeatedly urges the City to undertake immediate action, and advocates the adoption of a risk-based approach, noting that:
While uncertainties exist about the exact specification of future climate changes for the city, climate risk information available now clearly indicates that a strategic, proactive adaptation process should begin and continue. Ad hoc adaptation responses to extreme climate events are not enough to ensure long-term sustainability.
The report covers some of the key issues New York City and other urban areas could usefully consider when developing a climate change adaptation response. Broken into three main sections, the report contextualizes adaptation in NYC, includes climate change projections developed specifically for the city, describes the challenges that cities face in adapting their critical infrastructures, and finally discusses the role that laws, regulations, and private insurers can play in adaptation. Numerous recommendations and suggestions are additionally provided to help the City address these issues. The report represents an important stepping stone in the City’s adaptation efforts, and should be utilized as a guidance framework by other local governments and cities when preparing for climate change impacts.
The NPCC also created three workbooks to guide adaptation Task Force members in their climate change adaptation planning process. These workbooks can be found in the Appendices to the above report, and include:
- The Climate Risk Information (CRI) workbook presents climate trends and projections for New York City and identifies potential risks to the city’s critical infrastructure posed by climate change (Appendix A);
- The Adaptation Assessment Guidebook (AAG) outlines a process through which stakeholders can develop and implement adaptation plans (Appendix B); and
- The Climate Protection Levels (CPL) workbook evaluates some of the policies, rules, and regulations that govern infrastructure in New York City to determine how they could be affected by climate change (Appendix C).
In New York State, and along Long Island Sound, policies and standards do not exist for the singular purpose of addressing sea level rise, but rather are closely integrated and act to reinforce one another. The New York Coastal Program seeks to induce actions in the coastal zone that serve multi-purpose goals, such as conserving sensitive ecosystems that in turn help maintain natural coastal processes and enable surrounding areas more easily adapt to sea level rise. As a result of this emphasis on performance, the Coastal Program has not found it necessary to create new policies or standards. Instead, the Coastal Program uses existing policies while applying new knowledge as it becomes available. For example, Policy 4.6 of the Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program (1999) mandates that projects in New York’s coastal area must “consider sea level rise when siting and designing projects involving substantial public expenditures. The Coastal Program also recognizes sea level rise relative to the shore as a significant factor in the incidence of erosion and flooding over time. More information on the Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program (1999 document) and here.
Enacted in 1973, the New York State Coastal Erosion Hazards Act grants the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to identify and map coastal areas affected by serious erosion and to adopt regulations to control certain activities and development in those areas. The New York Coastal Program’s 40 Coastal Policy statements include a number of regulations and guidelines governing sustainable coastal development and activities. Again, although not specifically accounting for accelerated sea level rise, these statutes nevertheless act as important developmental standards and implicitly dictate New York’s response to rising seas. Among other recommendations, the State advocates siting construction outside of flood-prone hazard areas, and avoiding the use of shoreline armoring techniques to stabilize eroding coastal areas. The following Coastal Policies are particularly relatable to sea-level rise and coastal erosion:
- Coastal Policy 11: In areas identified as coastal erosion hazard areas, buildings are required to be set back from the shoreline a distance sufficient to minimize damage from erosion. The extent of the setback will be calculated, taking into account the coastal erosion rate, and the protection provided by existing erosion protection structures and natural protective features. The only new structure allowed in coastal erosion hazard areas is a moveable structure as defined in Section 505.3(u) of the regulations for ECL, Article 34.
- Coastal Policy 12: Activities or development in the coastal area will be undertaken so as to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion by protecting natural protective features including beaches, dunes, barriers islands and bluffs.
- Coastal Policy 14: Activities and development, including the construction or reconstruction of erosion protection structures, shall be undertaken so that there will be no measurable increase in erosion or flooding at the site of such activities or development, or at other locations.
- Coastal Policy 15: Protects sediment supplies and natural processes, allowing the shoreline to respond to changing conditions, including sea level rise. As a variety of uses must be accommodated in the coastal area, other policies help identify locations for appropriate uses, including areas where commercial, industrial, and maritime industry uses are preferred and conditions under which natural resources must be protected.
- Coastal Policy 17: Non-structural measures to minimize damage to natural resources and property from flooding and erosion shall be used whenever possible.
For more information on the New York Coastal Program policies, see here. Coastal Erosion Management regulations can be found here. Good general information on flooding and erosion hazards, with multiple links to additional detailed sources of information can be found here.
Based on a February 20, 2014 settlement between the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) and Consolidated Edison, the New York City area’s largest electric utility, the state now expects all of the utilities it regulates to consider how sea level rise, extreme weather and other possible effects related to climate change will affect their operations and reliability as they make future construction plans and budgets. It's a model that experts say other states could use to address the effects of climate change. Partly as a result of the damage the New York region and ConEd’s infrastructure sustained during Hurricane Sandy, the settlement requires ConEd, one of the nation’s largest utilities, to study how climate change will affect its infrastructure and how to adjust its operations to mitigate those effects. In requiring ConEd to study its vulnerability to climate change, the commission took a step further, declaring that it expects all state utilities it regulates to do the same. More on this.
The EPA released the summary document Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: New York (2010). The report develops maps that distinguish shores that are likely to be protected from the sea from those areas that are likely to be submerged, assuming current coastal policies, development trends, and shore protection practices. The purpose is primarily to promote the dialogue by which society decides where people will yield the right of way to the inland migration of wetlands and beaches, and where we will hold back the sea. A key step in evaluating whether new policies are needed is to evaluate what would happen under current policies. The sea level rise planning maps divide the dry land close to sea level into four categories of shore protection. The summary map shows an assessment of the likelihood of shore protection for the coastal zone of New York, and adjacent areas in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
Assessing future risk: quantifying the effects of sea level rise on storm surge risk for the southern shores of Long Island, New York was published in the journal Natural Hazards in January 2012. New York State currently responds to coastal erosion utilizing, each to a different extent, the methods of coastal armoring, land elevation, and coastal retreat. Bulkheads are particularly common along the shores of New York City and Long Island, while homes in South Hampton have been lost to retreating ocean shores. The study concluded that shore protection is likely or certain along most of the New York’s Atlantic and Long Island coastlines. Only 9 miles of the State’s 119-mile Atlantic coastline, and 9 miles of the 148-mile Long Island coastline, are expected to remain free from protection. Although some shore erosion will be tolerated along the State’s lightly developed barrier islands, the major through highways along these islands makes some sort of shore protection likely. However, as the mainland behind these barrier islands is densely populated, officials are unlikely to allow the barrier islands to disintegrate, which would expose low-lying mainland communities to hazardous flooding.
Fortunately, as New York’s regulations do not provide riparian property owners with a right to hold back the sea, wetland migration is expected to be possible along many of the shores that are likely/certain to be protected. New York's current tidal wetland regulations extend 300 feet inland of the wetlands. State officials believe that the regulations could potentially facilitate a landward migration of wetlands as sea level rises.
The Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program, developed under the Coastal Zone Management Act and the New York Executive law, attempts to integrate local and state programs protecting the Sound shoreline in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, and in parts of New York City. The first regional coastal management program, the Long Island Sound Program operates under 13 guiding policies that serve to protect and enhance the Sound’s coastal zone. Under the Program, coastal area projects are also required to “consider sea level rise when siting and designing projects involving substantial public expenditures." The Program also guides the development of new Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs. A number of municipalities on Long Island have state approved LWRP’s including the Village of Bayville (adopted 5/03), the Town of East Hampton (adopted 8/08), the Village of Greenpoint (adopted 7/89) , and the Village of Sag Harbor (adopted 10/86). The New York Department of State is working on a two year project to define the content and process for preparing Post-Storm Redevelopment Plans, with the help of a Coastal Fellow funded by NOAA. The project deadline is September 2010 but preliminary guidance and products are available now. If a community wishes to prepare plans addressing coastal hazards, including sea level rise and climate change adaptation, they may apply through DOS for an Environmental Protection Fund grant which would provide funding on a cost shared basis. Contact Barry Pendergrass at (518) 486-3277 or Barry.Pendergrass@dos.state.ny.us for further information.
As part of its Living Coasts Program, The Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET) announced in January 2009 that it had awarded $1,212,000 to researchers working in North Carolina and New York who are evaluating the costs and benefits of different approaches to erosion prevention in sheltered coastlines. Each project is focused on understanding the environmental and economic tradeoffs of alternative erosion control measures.
Led by the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), the New York project focuses on 300 miles of shoreline in the northern Hudson River Estuary. It combines research, analysis, and outreach to better understand the tradeoffs associated with using erosion prevention measures to protect the Hudson River’s sheltered coastlines from the impacts of rising sea levels, increased storm surges, and waves. Integrated closely with regional climate change response and ecosystem protection initiatives, this project compares the physical attributes and habitat functions of selected biota in six types of shoreline. Investigators will quantify long-term costs and impacts associated with vegetative approaches, hard engineered structures, and land management measures, such as land regulation, planning measures, or land acquisition.
Part of an overall Coastal Resilience project, Building Coastal Resilience in Long Island, New York is a website designed to address coastal threats and provide tools and information to enhance informed decision-making. A primary project goal is designing, building, and considering alternative future scenarios that address sea level rise, storm surge, community vulnerability, and conservation priorities. A number of modeling tools are supporting the process.
Released by The Nature Conservancy in February 2010, the case study Coastal Resilience Long Island: Adapting Natural and Human Communities to Sea Level Rise and Coastal Hazards explores flooding scenarios resulting from sea level rise and storm surge for the south shore of Long Island, New York. Recognizing that communities and local decision-makers still lack many of the necessary tools to effectively respond to climate change impacts, the Study sought to build the coastal zone’s response strategy by:
- Building a spatial database and interactive map server that provides decision support for meeting both biodiversity and hazard mitigation objectives;
- Conducting local and state workshops on the utility of the database and interactive decision support;
- Constructing a website that explains the approach, methods, and strategies for ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change; and
- Identifying reasonable and viable alternatives that reduce losses and vulnerability of coastal communities for people and ecosystems.
As stated by the authors, “the ultimate aim of the project was, and is, to provide communities with easy access to information for their planning, zoning, acquisition, and permitting decisions”. In this sense, the project staunchly advocates for adoption of an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to coastal management. This extremely detailed report assists coastal managers in both visualizing and managing climate change, providing extensive inundation mapping and sea-level rise scenarios, in addition to a comprehensive coastal resilience program framework. The project will provide a suite of existing and novel regulatory tools that decision-makers could consider to achieve ecological, social, and economic resilience. Most importantly, the project will provide visualization of alternative future scenarios to help decision makers and communities make informed local and state decisions about marine conservation, land protection, and coastal development in their planning, zoning, acquisition and permitting decisions. More information.
New York Sea Grant has sponsored numerous climate change studies and facilitated climate change discussions among local and regional planners and decision-makers. NY Sea Grant’s website considers sea level rise under the theme “Coastal Hazards and Processes." Most recently, NYSG specialist Joseph J. “Jay” Tanski made a past-present-and-future impact of climate activity on Long Island presentation to a group of Cornell, NOAA, National Weather Service, and NYSG staff. In terms of climate change impacts, Tanski declared, “…it [climate change] won’t be creating new problems that we haven’t seen before, but it will exacerbate existing problems that we are already facing”. For several communities, New York Sea Grant has also developed case studies of sea-level-rise scenarios, which combined findings of the IPCC with GIS-based elevation data. As a general rule, the role of past and predicted sea level rise is regularly incorporated into New York Sea Grant coastal hazards material. More information on NYSG’s initiatives and policies.
Together, New York Sea Grant, the School of Atmospheric and Marine Science at Stony Brook University, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the US Army Corps of Engineers, compiled an extensive set of data on the Atlantic Ocean beaches of New York. The data includes aerial photos, orthographic photos, historic shorelines and multiple years of beach profile surveys, in addition to physical analysis tools. This data can be used by decision makers to assess changes in the shoreline over the course of time. The Atlantic Coast of New York Monitoring Program helps planners implement appropriate management measures by taking into account the shoreline’s dynamic nature.
Although many stretches along New York’s coastline are heavily armored, the State does have a history of managed retreat. In one of the earliest examples of managed retreat strategies within the U.S. coastal zone, workers on Coney Island relocated the Brighton Beach Hotel 600 feet inland. Completed in 1888, relocation required 120 rail cars and six locomotives to save the 500 foot long, three story hotel. A similar issue currently exists with the Montauk Point Lighthouse. While the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to expand the rock wall surrounding Montauk Point, Surfrider Foundation's Eastern Long Island Chapter is trying to convince authorities to investigate the feasibility of moving the lighthouse back away from the eroding cliffs to protect it for centuries to come.
State Coastal Atlases provide interactive suites of data and resources for coastal decision makers, professionals, and other interest groups, including customizable maps, GIS data layers and metadata, and figures. Along these same lines, the New York Coastal Atlas website acts as centralized coastal resources portal. The site contains a series of maps delineating New York’s Coastal Area Boundary and identifying significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats, scenic areas, federally owned lands, and Native American-owned lands. Links to local and regional coastal initiatives, as well as guidance on improving coastal communities, are also provided.
The website Re-Think the Coast was created by Surfrider Foundation to educate and inform the public and our government about the importance of strategic thinking and planning when it comes to rebuilding New York's coastline.
Westchester Action Plan 2008
Recognizing the imminent impacts of climate change, Westchester’s County Executive convened the Global Warming Task Force (Task Force). Charged with creating an Action Plan, the Task Force identified workable strategies and practical actions to help Westchester reduce its GHG emissions and achieve sustainable development. Using the ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection Campaign’s Five Milestones as a guide, the Task Force released its final Westchester Action Plan for Climate Change and Sustainable Development in 2008, laying out a comprehensive, integrated plan to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Task Force considered the 2005 countywide GHG footprint and the most recent climate science to set a goal of 20% reduction in GHGs below the 2005 base year by 2015, and a goal of 80% reduction by 2050. To achieve these reductions, adapt to climate change, and promote sustainability, the Task Force identified countywide strategies for energy, transportation, land use, water resources, and waste and green purchasing. The plan organizes the strategies by sector and provides a recommended time frame for completion ranging from short term (1 to 3 years), to medium term (3 to 8 years) to long term (8+years).
As a low-lying coastal community, bordered by the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, much of Westchester faces permanent inundation and severe flooding, as exacerbated by accelerated sea-level rise and increased storm incidence. The Action Plan thus noted:
The implications of both sea level rise and increased intensity of storm events for Westchester County are significant since high concentrations of population, proper infrastructure, economic activity, and recreation occur within the coastal areas of the County. Property damage and risk to life are potential concerns. Challenges to emergency response, hazard mitigation, land-use planning and property insurance can be anticipated.
Sea level rise and increased intensity of storm events are addressed under the Action Plan’s Water Resources section, suggesting:
Water Resources - To manage water resources, the Community of Westchester must find ways to:
- Mitigate flooding consequences associated with global warming.
- Adapt to rising water levels.
- Protect and preserve drinking water reservoirs and watersheds.
- Conserve drinking water.
The Plan’s Land Use section also recommends integrating climate change concerns and sustainable site development concepts into planning processes.
Town of East Hampton, NY: Coastal Management Element
In 1999, the Town of East Hampton adopted its Local Waterfront Revitalization Program as the Coastal Management component of its comprehensive plan. The Program specifically references sea level rise, stating:
“Future planning efforts should examine the likely effects of global warming, including increasing sea level rise and storm and hurricane activity on the town’s coastline. Beginning to plan for these effects, assessing potential damage to public resources and infrastructure, and evaluating methods of protection and associated costs are vital for future coastal management.”
East Hampton's Program makes it a high priority goal to maintain the dynamic equilibrium of natural shoreline features, including beaches, bluffs, dunes, wetlands and native vegetation, emphasizing the use of non-structural and soft solutions over shoreline armoring. In some instances, the Program even goes so far as to suggest a strategy of managed retreat:
… in order to both maintain natural features and protect homes and other shorefront development, a strategic retreat of development from receding shorelines is the preferred approach for flooding and erosion protection.
In 2007 the Town Board of East Hampton voted to approve new legislation to protect the Town's beaches and coastal resources. While creating a Coastal Erosion Hazard Overlay District, this new legislation had the support of the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation because it prohibits any new hard erosion control structures from being built on most of the Town's ocean beaches.
East Hampton's resolve in trying to avoid hardened structures along the shoreline is being tested following Superstorm Sandy, which struck in late October, 2012. An erosion control committee appointed by the East Hampton Town Board in December 2012 presented the town with 11 recommendations to deal with the destruction of the beach and dunes on the ocean at Montauk in March 2013. As a first step, the committee recommended immediate beach nourishment, adding a minimum of 50,000 cubic yards of sand from existing local sources to the beach from Ditch Plain through the Montauk commercial district. The town would also seek permits for beach “scraping” — moving sand from the beach to create dunes (during those seasons when sand is naturally deposited) and to install fencing to trap and build up sand. First among the committee’s long-term recommendations is the creation of an engineered 2.3-mile, 200-foot-wide beach for the area. The committee has not ruled out a buyout plan for shoreline properties in peril. In collaboration with the state and with federal agencies, the committee recommended that the town develop such plans with owners willing to sell, perhaps using money from the community preservation fund. Although the committee had previously discussed a revetment along that Montauk stretch of beach, no groins or seawalls are now envisioned. However, as the process of rebuilding the beach and dunes along 2.3 miles could take up to three years, the committee has recommended that the town allow property owners to protect the foundations of their buildings with buried rocks or concrete blocks. At present, only sand or textile “geotubes” filled with sand are allowed in the ocean zone, under the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. That would have to be amended. The committee has suggested that be done, along with the creation of a new coastal erosion zone, zone five, for the area where rocks and concrete would be permitted.
Since the 1980s, the Town has also maintained a continuous surveillance of wetland boundary locations, monitoring wetland movement and subsequently undertaking appropriate action to ensure that wetlands can naturally retreat rather than drown. Data from this monitoring initiative has also demonstrated that over the years, arbitrary placement of bulkheads has created a major impediment to natural progression of wetland migration, spurring the Town to prohibit the building of any bulkheads that would block wetland migration. East Hampton has also adopted coastal setbacks as much as 150 feet and no-build zones in high hazard floodplains.
- NOAA and Connecticut Sea Grant have released Cost-Efficient Climate Adaptation in the North Atlantic, a report that looks at community-level coastal flood management and climate change adaptation best practices throughout the North Atlantic region of the United States.
- Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region
- Coastal Resilience Long Island - What Can Be Done
- Local Land Use Response to Sea Level Rise
General Reference Documents
EPA's Risk-Based Adaptation website (under the heading of Climate-Ready Estuaries) provides several resources and tools to help users identify, analyze, prioritize and reduce their climate change risks.
An informative publication is Ten Principles for Coastal Development (2007) by the Urban Land Institute.
The Coastal States Organization (CSO) has published two reports relating to climate change adaptation. The first is Coastal Community Resilience: An Evaluation of Resilience as a Potential Performance Measure of the Coastal Zone Management Act (July 2008). (No link to this could be found.) Developed by CSO staff and CSO’s Coastal Resilience Steering Committee, the document demonstrates the value of resilience to coastal management and offers concrete recommendations for enhancing resilience at the state and local level. The second document is The Role of Coastal Zone Management Programs in Adaptation to Climate Change (September 2008)(PDF, 732KB). The report includes detailed results of a 2008 adaptation survey designed to obtain up to date information on the status of adaptation planning, priority information needs, and the anticipated resource needs of the coastal states, commonwealths, and territories.
In April 2009, the Heinz Center and Ceres announced the release of their Resilient Coasts - A Blueprint for Action, to outline steps to reduce risks and losses in the face of growing threats. The Heinz Center and Ceres produced the blueprint with a coalition of leading insurers, public officials, risk experts, builders, and conservation groups. The blueprint is endorsed by many groups, including The Travelers Institute, The Nature Conservancy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Wharton School, and the Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. The blueprint includes policy changes and common sense actions that could reduce economic losses from future storms and rising sea levels by as much as half along U.S. coastlines. The blueprint outlines specific recommendations, including: enabling planning for climate impacts by providing the necessary science and decision-making tools; requiring risk-based land use planning; designing adaptable infrastructure and building code standards to meet future risk; strengthening ecosystems as part of a risk mitigation strategy; developing flexible adaptation plans; maintaining a viable private property and casualty insurance market; and integrating climate change impacts into due diligence for investment and lending. The coalition urges the Obama administration, Congress, local leaders and the private sector to see that blueprint actions are implemented through regulation, investment, education, and other means.
In January 2010 the National Association of Counties released Building Resilient Coastal Communities: Counties and the Digital Coast which highlights many of the Digital Coast resources that counties use to address coastal flooding, habitat conservation and land use. More resources, tools and data are available through NOAA's Digital Coast website.
More recently, NOAA Coastal Management has developed a Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer as part of its Digital Coast website. Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.
StormSmart Coasts is a resource for coastal decision makers looking for the latest and best information on how to protect their communities from weather and climate hazards. StormSmart Legal is a new addition to the StormSmart Coasts Network that provides information about property rights, regulatory takings, and permissible government regulation in coastal areas.
In December 2012 NOAA's Climate Program Office released a report Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment. The report was produced in response to a request from the U.S. National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee. It provides a synthesis of the scientific literature on global sea level rise, and a set of four scenarios of future global sea level rise. The report includes input from national experts in climate science, physical coastal processes, and coastal management.
NOAA's Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth website is organized into 10 chapters describing different elements essential for communities interested in implementing coastal and waterfront smart growth. By clicking on the individual chapters, you can get a description of each Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth Element, how this relates to the Coastal and Waterfront Issues, Tools and Techniques you can use in your community, and Case Studies of successes. Each chapter contains a navigation box allowing quick access to the information and the ability to download the content of each page. A 2012 report by NOAA and EPA on Achieving Hazard-Resilient Coastal & Waterfront Smart Growth presents ideas shared by smart growth and hazard mitigation experts related to building hazard-resilient coastal communities.
EPA has a website devoted to preparing for rising sea level and other consequences of changing climate. The premise of the Greenhouse Effect and Sea Level Rise website is that society should take measures to make our coastal development and ecosystems less vulnerable to a rise in sea level. The papers on this site demonstrate that numerous low-cost measures, if implemented, would make the United States less vulnerable to rising sea level. A more recent EPA website is Adapting to Climate Change, but was removed by the Trump administration.
Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities (USGS-NOAA, January 2013) emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change. The report examines and describes climate change impacts on coastal ecosystems and human economies and communities, as well as the kinds of scientific data, planning tools and resources that coastal communities and resource managers need to help them adapt to these changes. Case studies are presented for Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
In December 2012 the Lincoln Institute released Coastal States’ Climate Adaptation Initiatives: Sea Level Rise and Municipal Engagement (Working Paper). This paper explores how states and municipalities interact to address sea level rise, providing an overview of the state of practice, some reasons for different levels of action, and some of the needs of municipalities. It includes recommendations for ways states can provide adaptation support to municipalities.
Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience: Using the Full Array of Measures, (pdf, 1.2 MB) published in September 2013, discusses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' capabilities to help reduce risks to coastal areas and improve resilience to coastal hazards through an integrated planning approach. Federal, state, local, non-governmental organization and private sector interests connected to our coastal communities possess a complementary set of authorities and capabilities for developing more integrated coastal systems. The effective implementation of an integrated approach to flood and coastal flood hazard mitigation relies on a collaborative, shared responsibility framework between Federal, state, and local agencies and the public.
The National Climate Assessment is an extensive report released through the U.S. Global Change Research Program and produced by a large team of experts with the guidance of the Federal Advisory Committee. The report is put out every few years, with the most recent one being the 2014 National Climate Assessment and the next report expected to be released in 2018-2019. It includes numerous studies on the impacts of climate change on different economic sectors and geographic regions in the U.S. An important and applicable portion of the report is the Response Strategies section, which lays out actionable ways that decision-makers ranging from the federal government to private-sector companies can take to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
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