Addressing Coastal Hazards in the Mid-Atlantic

Henry J Mayer, Rutgers


Nuisance Flooding in Hampton Roads Area: Reducing Impacts through Better Information

As relative sea level increases, it no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause coastal flooding. Flooding now occurs with high tides in many locations due to climate-related sea level rise, land subsidence, and the loss of natural barriers. Flash flooding from regular rain events also contribute to flooding in low lying areas already impacted by tides. These areas may be well known to local residents and may include areas such as parking lots. Often referred to as nuisance flooding because it causes public inconveniences such as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains and compromised infrastructure, has increased on all three U.S. coasts, between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s. The effects of rising sea levels along most of the continental U.S. coastline are expected to become more noticeable and much more severe in the coming decades, likely more so than any other climate-change related factor. Any acceleration in sea level rise that is predicted to occur this century will further intensify nuisance flooding impacts over time, and will further reduce the time between flood events.

Hampton Roads is rated second only to New Orleans as the most vulnerable area to relative sea level rise in the country. Sea levels in the Hampton Roads region have risen more than 14 inches since 1930, and a Union of Concerned Scientists report indicates that the number of flooding events in Norfolk has tripled since the 1970s, and tide-related floods now occur about once a month. If, as climate models project, the sea level rises six inches by 2030, the city could experience about four tidal floods a month. The areas being flooded will expand and begin to have greater adverse impacts on commerce and the local economy.

Project Two – Abstract

Identification of Demographic, Environmental and Economic Trends that will shape the Mid- Atlantic Coastal Landscape in the Future

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management (OCM) catalyzes and influences a broad base of leaders, citizens, and coastal practitioners to ensure healthy coastal ecosystems, resilient coastal communities, and vibrant and sustainable coastal economies. OCM is an organization devoted to partnerships, science, and good policy that oversees major initiatives that include the National Coastal Zone Management Program, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Digital Coast, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

This project will provide an initial investment in preparing OCM to address the coastal management challenges that the Mid-Atlantic will confront in the next 25 years. The world in 2040 will be shaped by a complex set of forces, only some of which OCM and our coastal partners will be able to influence. Nevertheless, we believe it would be instructive to look at existing information about the demographic, environmental and economic trends that will shape the Mid-Atlantic coastal landscape to prepare for our future.

Project Three – Abstract

Assessing Priorities for NOAA's Coastal Storms Program in New York and New Jersey in a Post-Sandy Context As of February 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported it spent upwards of $9 billion on relief and recovery efforts in New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Storm losses in some coastal New Jersey municipalities amounted to more than one-third of their