Projects

Development of sea level rise adaptation planning procedures and tools using NOAA sea level rise impacts viewer

End Date: 1/31/15

Abstract

By working with local planners in the case study, this project aims to answer the following research questions: Given the different impacts and vulnerabilities (e.g., on marsh and socioeconomic factors) generated by the viewer, how do we assess the overall impacts and vulnerabilities in the region? How do we prioritize and select adaptation options using these impact and vulnerability indicators? How do we take uncertainty of different sea level rise scenarios (i.e., probability of sea level rise) into consideration in the decision making process? To answer these research questions, this study will expand upon the existing NOAA impact assessment tool to incorporate more data, such as critical infrastructure and land use information, to integrate different vulnerability indices, to estimate system vulnerability under a series of sea level rise scenarios, and to provide a methodology to prioritize adaptation options. The proposed methodology would enable local planners to quantify and compare the potential benefits of adaptation options, taking a step further towards detailed adaptation planning. Working with local communities, the project will also provide insights on how to further improve the Viewer to meet the needs of communities in their adaptation planning efforts.

Objectives

There are two ultimate goals of the project: First, the project will work with local planners to develop a detailed procedure of regional adaptation planning using the existing NOAA Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer; and second, the project will incorporate the adaptation planning procedure in a planning support tool as an extension of the Viewer. The project will achieve these goals through accomplishing the following objectives:

  • Identify infrastructure and property vulnerabilities, and then estimate the associated economic losses using the outputs of the Viewer.
  • Use a robust decision making method to assist in the development of adaptation strategies and integrating various vulnerability indices (see the discussion in the next section).
  • Assess system vulnerability under a series of projected sea level rise scenarios with selected adaptation options, and identify adaptation options that minimize system loss.
  • Propose suggestions for data and tool improvements by working with local communities.
  • Develop planning support tools as an extension of the NOAA Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer by incorporating adaptation planning procedures to facilitate future adaptation planning.

Methodology

The project will use both qualitative and quantitative methodology to conduct the analysis. Simulations will be conducted under different scenarios. Interviews and surveys will be used as supporting tools. The project includes five steps as briefly described below: Vulnerability and Impact Assessments Integration; Adaptation Decision Analysis; Adaptation Planning Procedure; Data and Tool Evaluation; and Web-based Adaptation Planning Support Tool.

1. Vulnerability and Impact Assessments Integration

The first step of this research is to define a range of specific sea level rise scenarios for the study area over 50- and 100-year planning horizons, based on the previous studies in the Tampa Bay area (Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, 2006; NOAA, 2010). Later, using the inundation map generated by the Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer, together with data from Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and other sources, infrastructure and properties at risk under several scenarios will be identified. Potential economic loss due to direct inundation will also be estimated. This step will include integrating the following data: LiDAR, critical facilities and infrastructure (including transportation infrastructure), current land use parcel data, zoning and future land use plans. Spatial joining in Geographical Information System (GIS) will be performed to assess the impacts of different sea level rise scenarios on the built and natural environment, identifying vulnerable infrastructure and properties. Analytic Hierarchy Processes (AHP) will be used to compare the relative importance of infrastructure and property losses, social vulnerability, and economic vulnerability, and to determine the relative weight for each of these indicators to generate the integrated vulnerability index. All variables will be normalized to be within the range between 0 and 1 for the purpose of comparison.

2. Adaptation Decision Analysis

Based on the vulnerability and impact assessments results, we will conduct a robust decision making process, which is a combination of both decision-making analysis and traditional scenario planning (Water Utility Climate Alliance, 2010). Robust decision making will enable the development of strategies that will adapt best to a wide range of plausible future conditions. First, we will select a range of feasible adaptation options through discussion with local planners and government officials. Next, the integrated vulnerability index will be calculated (see detailed discussion in Approach section) and mapped to the census block group level under the most likely sea level rise scenario. The most vulnerable census block group will be selected. Then, the integrated regional accumulated vulnerability will be calculated for each selected adaptation option under all the sea level rise scenarios. The results will be used to select the option that minimizes accumulated system loss under all the scenarios. Given the estimated probability of each sea level rise scenario, system vulnerabilities will then be calculated and an adaptation plan can be determined for the urban system that will minimize the disruption.

3. Adaptation Planning Procedure

By working closely with planners from Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and other local government agencies, we will develop a model adaptation planning procedure based in part on the Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer. The procedure and methodology used in the case study will be summarized and generalized as a model for other regions to apply.

4. Data and Tool Evaluation

As part of this case study, the applicability and efficacy of the Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer will be evaluated in the adaptation planning process. Local planners will be asked to evaluate the tool through interviews and surveys. Conclusions will be drawn to help supplement the Viewer with additional data, functions, and procedures to improve the effectiveness of the tool.

5. Web-based Adaptation Planning Support Tool

This project will create a supplement web-based planning support tool based on the developed adaptation planning procedure and the Viewer using Internet GIS technology (e.g., ArcGIS Web Server) as an extension to the Viewer.

Rationale

As identified in a Sea Level Rise and Inundation Workshop organized by NOAA and USGS (2009), tools and data should be developed to assess the impacts of coastal inundation on coastal communities and changing coastal vulnerability, and to identify critical risk factors and effective responses.

The existing NOAA Sea Level Rise Impacts Viewer provides a visualization tool to illustrate the results of local impact assessments. It displays potential future sea levels, simulates sea level rise at local landmarks, communicates the spatial uncertainty of mapped sea levels, models potential marsh migration, and visualizes socioeconomic vulnerabilities by overlaying social and economic data. The tool can help decision makers and the public better understand their community’s vulnerability. However, while the visualization tool provides a solid general assessment of regional impacts and coastal vulnerabilities, impact assessment is only the first step in adaptation planning. Further analysis is needed to help local planners and decision makers better develop and select adaption options and conduct detailed adaptation planning.

Specifically, by working with local planners in the case study, this project aims to answer the following research questions: Given the different impacts and vulnerabilities (e.g., on marsh and socioeconomic factors) generated by the Viewer, how do we assess the overall impacts and vulnerabilities in the region? How do we prioritize and select adaptation options using these impact and vulnerability indicators? How do we take the uncertainty of different sea level rise scenarios (i.e., probability of sea level rise) into consideration in the decision making process? To answer these research questions, this study will expand upon the existing NOAA impact assessment tool to incorporate more data, such as critical infrastructure and land use information, to integrate different vulnerability indices, to estimate system vulnerability under a series of sea level rise scenarios, and to provide a methodology to prioritize adaptation options. The proposed methodology would enable local planners to quantify and compare the potential benefits of adaptation options, taking a step further towards detailed adaptation planning. Working with local communities, the project will also provide insights on how to further improve the Viewer to meet the needs of communities in their adaptation planning efforts.

Results

Annual report 2013

Annual report 2014

Use the sea-level rise impacts viewer