Adapting to sea level rise: Unique measures of physical pilot projects

Authors: Kristina Hill, University of California - Berkeley, Daniella Hirschfeld*, University of California - Berkeley, Ellen Plane, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Coastal and Marine, Planning Geography
Keywords: Sea level rise, climate adaptation, physical plan evaluation, landscape transformation, shoreline designs
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Researchers in the fields of geography and planning are calling for the need to create transformations of our social-ecological systems in order to adapt to the long-term impacts of climate change. Internationally, practitioners are beginning to design and build actual projects to adapt to sea level rise. However, there are no formal standards for evaluating a successful adaptation project in advance of the anticipated sea level rise itself. This paper evaluates seven model physical sea level rise adaptation projects in the San Francisco Bay. For this evaluation we develop a framework consisting of two different approaches. The first approach draws on evolutionary landscapes theory and is designed to assess a project’s transformative nature. In the second approach we develop five new evaluation criteria specific to sea level rise adaptation. Results demonstrate a shift toward dynamic landforms, which will be more flexible and provide multiple benefits in the context of rising sea levels. We find that project scores in the sea level rise category improved over time, however none of the projects achieved high marks in all five of our evaluation criteria, indicating that a critical need for improvement in physical planning for adaptation to higher sea levels.

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