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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Panel 1: The Physical Threat: State of the Science of Rising Sea Levels and Extreme Storms

Coordinators: Tal Ezer (moderator, ODU Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography/VMASC), Larry Atkinson (ODU Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography), John Boon (VIMS)
Key Local and Regional Invitees: Kelly Burks-Copes, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center;
David Titley, Department of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University

Recent research papers show that coastal sea level is rising along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States much faster than the global sea level, and that rising rates have been accelerating in recent years. One of the possible causes of the acceleration is apparently changes in circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean- as a response to climatic changes in polar regions (warming and freshening by melting ice), the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and its upper branch, the Gulf Stream seem to have weaken. Therefore, the frequency of storm-related and high tide-related floods has dramatically increased in recent years in the region, so projections of SLR and response of affected local communities must be regional in nature and also take into account, for example, the number and frequency of storms passing across the Northeast Atlantic coast.

The group will discuss the causes of SLR and the frequency of storms, and how they are related to local changes (such as land subsidence and hydrology), as well as remote influence from global SLR, changes in ocean circulation, changes in frequency and intensity of storms, etc. These issues can be discussed from two perspectives, from analysis of local and remote sensing data, as well as from numerical climate models. Different ways to estimate future projections of SLR and the accuracy of those projections should be discussed as well.