Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation:
Moving Beyond the Threat

October 30-31, 2013; Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

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ACCESS-EU Conference Report available: The report of the ACCESS-EU conference is now available. The report give a comprehensive overview of the conference and summarize the major outcomes of the meeting that brought together experts and stakeholders in sea level rise from both sides of the Atlantic. Read the report ...

More than 100 experts from academics, city and state government, navy, businesses and non-governmental organizations participate in the ACCESS-EU conference. The presentations during the panels of the first day underlined the particular threat of climate change and sea level rise for the urban coasts. The comparison of the best practices in Europe and the U.S. to address this challenge revealed significant differences between the practices on the two sides of North Atlantic, with Europe focusing more on protection and prevention of flooding, while along the U.S. East Coast, focus is more on evacuation before extreme events.

The audience was seated at tables with eight to nine participants. For each panel, there was about 30 minutes reserved for discussions at the individual tables, and the note takers at each table provided summaries of the table discussions (available here). The audience in general considered this particular format very conducive to interdisciplinary and cross-cutting deliberations and the development of cooperation.

A main conclusion of the second day emphasized the opportunity for both side of the North Atlantic to learn from the different practices in place. There was a broad consensus that transatlantic research collaborations should be developed focusing on the role of the social construct of risk and vulnerability in mitigation of, and adaptation to, the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

The opening keynote was given by Robert Nicholls, Southampton University (right), here during the reception in a conversation with Hans-Peter Plag, Co-Director of the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI).

After the receptions, the keynote in the Old Dominion University President's Lecture Series was given by David W. Titley, RADM USN (ret.); Senior Scientist, Department of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University; and Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State.

On the second day, the European guests had the opportunity to speak about their own work and/or add their comments to the deliberations of the conference. Here, Karel Heynert is speaking about coastal protection based on the utilization of natural processes.

The Panel members are Karel Heynert, Flood Risk Management, Deltares (speaking) and (left to right) Diane Horn, Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies, Birkbeck College; Jürgen Scheffran, Institute for Geography, University of Hamburg; Eelco van Beek, Integrated Water Resource Management, Deltares; Robert Nicholls, Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton; Karen Lewis, George Ewart Center for Storytelling, University of South Wales.


Old Dominion University has had a continuing series of activities with the European Union. The most recent round of funding includes a conference titled — “Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise Adaptation: Moving Beyond the Threat.” This conference took place October 30-31, 2013 on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Purpose of the “Transatlantic Solutions to Sea Level Rise” Conference

The project was the signature conference bringing European and American experts together to discuss the technical, economic, social, and political issues connected with adaptation to rising sea levels. Hampton Roads is among the Eastern sea board's most threatened urban regions. Rising sea levels pose unprecedented challenges to regional planning and development and demand socially and environmentally sensitive approaches. Low lying regions in Europe too, face similar problems. This conference focused on regional, national and EU perspectives to identify best practices, efficiencies, and synergies. Minimizing disruption and economic viability will be especially addressed. The rising sea level threat is ripe for transatlantic approaches, and this event fostered a community that is cognizant of the different options available to threatened communities.

Featured keynote presentations by:

Panels included:

  1. The Physical Threat: State of the Science of Rising Sea Levels and Extreme Storms; Read more ...
  2. Political, Psychological and Ethical Challenges to Adaptation: Risk Communication, Education and Community Engagement; Read more ...
  3. Sea Level Rise Implications for National Security and the Urban, Working Waterfront; Read more ...
  4. Flood Insurance and Adaptation: What Can the U.S. and Europe Learn from Each Other? Read more ...

Results of the Conference

For more information please contact:

Dr. Regina Karp, ODU, Conference Chair — +1-757-683-5700; E-mail: rkarp at
Dr. Larry Atkinson, ODU, Conference Co-Chair — +1-757-683-4926; E-mail: latkinso at

The project ACCESSEU is funded by the European Union
Delegation of the European Union to the United States
2175 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20037. Te: 202.862.9500 Fax: 202.429.1766