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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About Us


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.

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

Conference Program

Meeting Layout: The audience will sit at tables of 5 to 8. The stage that will hold at least 5 panelists and Speakers podium.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

0800 - 0830:Breakfast — Topical groups share a table to get acquainted.
0830 - 0930:Opening Session
0830 - 0840Carol Simpson, Provost, Old Dominion University: Welcoming Address
0840 - 0850Conference Leadership: Conference Organization and Goals
0850 - 0915Robert Nicholls, Southampton University: Keynote Presentation (video Part 1; video Part 2; video Part 3; video Part 4; presentation, personal web page)
0915 - 0930Jenifer Alonzo, ODU Department of Communication & Theater Arts: Networking Icebreaker
0930 - 0945:Coffee Break
0945 - 1100:Topic 1 (description)
0945 - 1030Panel One:
The Physical Threat: State of the Science of Rising Sea Levels and Extreme Storms
Tal Ezer (moderator, presentation) and Robert Tuleya, Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, Old Dominion University (presentation)
Kelly Burks-Copes, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (presentation, abstract, bio)
1030 - 1100Group Discussion at Tables.
1100 - 1215:Topic 2 (description)
1100 - 1145Panel Two:
Political, Psychological/Health and Ethical Challenges to Adaptation
Glen Sussman, (moderator) Political Science, Old Dominion University (presentation, abstract, bio)
Eelco van Beek, Integrated Water Resource Management, Deltares, The Netherlands (presentation, abstract, bio)
Poornima Madhavan, Old Dominion University (presentation, abstract, bio)
Muge Akpinar-Elci, Center for Global Health, Old Dominion University (presentation)
1145 - 1215Group discussion on Tables
1215 - 1315:Lunch and Keynote Presentation: John Englander, author of “High Tide on Main Street” (video Part 1, video Part 2, personal web page)
1315 - 1430:Topic 3 (description)
1315 - 1400Panel Three:
Implications of Sea Level Rise for National Security and the Urban, Working Waterfront
Joe Bouchard (moderator, presentation), Virginia Conservation Network
Jürgen Scheffran, Institute for Geography, University of Hamburg (presentation, abstract, bio)
Austin Becker, Coastal Planning, Policy, and Design, University of Rhode Island (presentation, bio)
Janos Szonyegi, Strategic Analysis Branch Head, Allied Command Transformation (presentation, abstract, bio)
1400 - 1430Group discussion on Tables
1430 - 1545:Topic 4 (description)
1430 - 1515Panel Four:
Flood Insurance and Adaptation: What Can the U.S. and Europe Learn from Each Other?
Michael McShane (moderator), Risk Management and Insurance, Old Dominion University, USA (presentation, abstract, bio)
Diane Horn, Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies, Birkbeck College, London, U.K. (presentation, abstract, bio)
Karel Heynert, Flood Risk Management, Deltares, Netherlands (presentation, abstract, bio)
1515 - 1545Group Discussion on Tables
1545 - 1600:Coffee Break
1600 - 1700:Capstone Panel
1600 - 1700:Adaptation Implications for Hampton Roads
Carl Hershner, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary: Recurrent Coastal Flooding: Planning to Adapt (presentation)
Mary-Carson B. Saunders Stiff, College of William & Mary School of Law: Adaptation Implications for Hampton Roads - What a Legal Clinic Can Do to Help (presentations)
Tom McNeilan, Fugro Atlantic: Transatlantic Solutions - SLR Adaptation Moving Beyond the Threat (presentation)
Ben McFarlane (moderator), Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
1830 - 1930:Reception
1930:Keynote Lecture
1930Old Dominion University President's Lecture Series Presents:
David W. Titley, RADM USN (ret.)
Senior Scientist, Department of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University,
Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State
(Read more; presentation)

Poster Session

0830 - 1730:Poster Session
 Okmyung Bin, East Carolina University, and Tatiana Filatova, University of Twente: Changing climate, changing behavior: adaptive economic behavior and housing markets responses to flood risks (abstract)
 Lisa Granquist, Northeastern University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Accelerated Erosion and Sea Level Rise: The Case for Adaptive Policies (abstract)
 Lisa Granquist, Northeastern University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Armoring the Massachusetts Coast: Increased Protection or Added Risk? (abstract)
 Julie Lambert, Florida Atlantic University: Climate Science Investigations (CSI): An Online Series of Modules that Teach Students to Use Evidence-Based Scientific Argumentation to Address Climate Skeptics Claims (abstract)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

0800 - 0830:Breakfast
0830 - 0845:Hans-Peter Plag, Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Inititiative: Opportunities for Trans-Atlantic Collaborations (presentation)
0845 - 0900:All: Comments on Opportunities for Trans-Atlantic Collaborations
0900 - 0950:Reports from Day 1 Group Discussions
0900 - 0910Tal Ezer, ODU: Panel 1: The Physical Threat: State of the Science of Rising Sea Levels and Extreme Storms (presentation)
0910 - 0920Glen Sussman, ODU: Panel 2: Political, Psychological and Ethical Challenges to Adaptation
0920 - 0930Joe Bouchard, Cox Communication: Panel 3: Implications of Sea Level Rise for National Security and the Urban, Working Waterfront
0930 - 0940Michael McShane, ODU: Panel 4: Flood Insurance and Adaptation: What Can the U.S. and Europe Learn from Each Other? (presentation)
0940 - 0950Ben McFarlane, HRPDC: Adaptation Implications for Hampton Roads
0950 - 1015:Break
1015 - 1200:Topical Talks from EU Experts; Moderator: Regina Karp, ODU
1015 - 1045Karen Lewis, George Ewart Center for Storytelling, University of South Wales:
1045 - 1100Robert Nicholls, Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton: Sea-Level Rise: Impacts and Responses (presentation)
1100 - 1115Eelco van Beek, Integrated Water Resource Management, Deltares: Impressions from the workshop - discussion (presentation)
1115 - 1130Jürgen Scheffran, Institute for Geography, University of Hamburg: European Challenges of Sea-Level Rise
1130 - 1145Diane Horn, Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies, Birkbeck College: Future directions for flood insurance research (presentation)
1145 - 1200Karel Heynert, Flood Risk Management, Deltares: Some options for (research) cooperations (presentation)
1200 - 1245:Capstone Panel Discussion
The purpose of this final discussion is to determine the priorities, research questions and action items and draft recommendations and a strategy for continued, multidisciplinary collaboration.
1245 - 1330:Lunch
1330 - 1430:Optional Field Trip: Field Discussion – “Practical Challenges to SLR/Flooding Adaptation in an Urban Hampton Roads Neighborhood: The Hague”
Skip Stiles, Wetlands Watch

Panel Topic Descriptions

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.

Panel 2: Political, Psychological/Health and Ethical Challenges to Adaptation: Risk Communication, Education and Community Engagement

ODU Coordinators: Glen Sussman (moderator, Political Science), Burton St. John (Communications/Theater Arts), Jesse Richman (Political Science), Robyn Bluhm (Philosophy/Religious Studies), Wie Yusuf (Business/Public Administration), Joyce Hoffman (English), Jenifer Alonzo (Communications/Theater Arts)
EU Invitee(s): Eelco van Beek, Integrated Water Resource Management, Deltares, The Netherlands
Karen Lewis, George Ewart Center for Storytelling, University of South Wales.

A warming of the planet and changing climate patterns have become major global environmental problems in the twenty-first century. One issue resulting from a changing climate is sea level rise. Rising seas pose a threat to business, industrial, educational, and residential coastal communities as well as military installations in the United States and the EU. Addressing the challenge of sea-level rise will depend on effectively communicating risks, understanding and meeting people’s information needs, and building a broad partnership of scientists, local decision makers, other stakeholders, and the public.

Two major problems associated with the consequences of a warming planet are political and psychological challenges to adapting to rising seas.  Psychologically, knowledge and risk perception among citizens appear to be important factors regarding the public response to sea level rise. Psychology, ideology, partisanship and economics tend to mediate responses to scientific evidence when policy decisions are being made. 

Panel 3: Implications of Sea Level Rise for National Security and the Urban, Working Waterfront

Coordinators: Joseph Bouchard (Cox Communications)
EU Invitees: Jürgen Scheffran, Institute for Geography, University of Hamburg
Key Local and Regional Invitees: Janos Szonyegi, Strategic Analysis Branch Head, Allied Command Transformation Austin Becker, Asst. Professor of Coastal Planning, Policy, and Design, University of Rhode Island

Rising sea levels and climate change pose significant national security challenges to the Hampton Roads region and other low lying areas around the world. Among the most pressing challenges from a national security perspective is how to protect or adapt existing base and port facilities as well as shipyards from rising sea levels and storm surges. Rising sea levels also threaten the critical transportation networks and electric grids that serve low lying areas. Given the high concentration of key national security facilities in the Hampton Roads region, the consequences of not taking action may be very severe. This challenge is further complicated by the symbiotic relationship between military bases, civilian shipyards and the surrounding communities that provide critical infrastructure and utilities.

This working group/panel will focus on the need for, and ways to, protect, adapt or abandon existing military bases and civilian port installations of national security interests in the Hampton Roads region by drawing on experiences and best practices in both civilian industry and the military. The working group/panel will feature speakers with leading expertise and personal experience of working on these issues in both an American and European context.

Panel 4: Flood Insurance and Adaptation: What can the US and EU learn from each other?

Panel presentations:

ODU Coordinator — Michael McShane (Risk Management and Insurance, Old Dominion University, USA)
EU Invitee(s) Academic — Diane Horn (University of London, Birkbeck College, UK) and Karel Heynert (Deltares, Netherlands)

The panel presentations will provide a background on the very different ways that flood insurance in handled in the US, UK, and the Netherlands. In the US, flood coverage is only available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is currently more than $28B in debt. With rising sea levels and increased weather volatility, this deficit is expected to increase. The private insurance market still covers flood in the United Kingdom, but is struggling. In the Netherlands, the focus has been on flood protection resulting in a limited flood insurance market. After panel presentations, the transdisciplinary groups, with at least one flood insurance expert at each table, will discuss the following:

Questions for Group Discussions:

Abstracts, Oral Presentations

Quantifying Coastal Storm and Sea Level Rise Risks to Naval Station Norfolk (SERDP RC-1701)

Kelly A. Burks-Copes, Edmond J. Russo
Environmental Laboratory, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS

Rising seas threaten increasing storm risks to coastal military mission performance threatening our nation’s security. While commanders may be situationally aware of their installation’s vulnerabilities, demonstrable risk-based assessments have yet to be developed that can assist them in proactively adapting military systems, processes, and protocols to meet this pervasive threat. By systematically characterizing the existing environment, predicting changes to the coastline, simulating hurricanes moving across the region, quantifying the resultant “forcings” (i.e., floodwaters, waves, winds), and constructing a dependency-based network model of the installation’s assets and capabilities, researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development team now have the ability to assess damages caused by tropical storms in combination with various sea level rise scenarios impacting the North Atlantic Coast. As a demonstration, we have applied the risk-based assessment to Naval Station Norfolk (NSN) (Hampton Roads, VA). Our results quantifiably demonstrate the threat to NSN mission sustainability. Thresholds where minor mission impairments evolve into catastrophic disasters have been identified for defensible consideration in proactive life cycle asset management and budgeting to reduce the potential for experiencing these risks. Here, we provide a high-level briefing of the project, detailing the modeling activities and describing our approach to integrating these disparate metrics into a transparent, scientifically-based and robust risk assessment for the U.S. Navy and their mission critical infrastructure networks.

Flood risks, flood prevention and insurance: practice and examples from The Netherlands

Karel Heynert and Laurens M. Bouwer
Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands
E-mail: karel.heynert at; laurens.bouwer at

Current design standards for flood prevention in The Netherlands were developed in the 1950s by the so-called Delta Committee. They were based on a risk analysis, where flood return periods and subsequent losses were assessed. The presentation will demonstrate how to date studies and analyses of the flood risks are being performed, that support the management of coastal and riverine flood risks.

New approaches are currently being tested in The Netherlands the design and evaluate the structural flood protection system, but also include the potential added value of non-structural measures like spatial planning to mitigate flood risks and planning and preparedness for emergency response. The probability of loss of life will likely feature more prominently in a new flood protection standard. These processes are part of the development of a new Delta Plan, for which initial decisions will be taken in 2014. However, given the high protection levels and the large numbers of people and capital present at flood prone areas, from a cost-benefit perspective, prevention will remain the most important risk mitigation strategy.

The above mentioned very high potential losses and extreme rarity of flooding due to failure of the flood protection system have until now prevented the development of a private insurance market in The Netherlands. Large-scale flood risks can be (partially) compensated under a national law. Flood risk in some specific cases can be insured. This relates in particular to local flooding due to heavy rainfall, and includes building and inventory insurance for households, and insurance of agricultural crops. This is not unique in Europe, where only few fully private and well developed flood insurance markets function. Most types of natural hazard and flood insurance systems in Europe exhibit at least some form – and often a large degree - of government involvement and uptake of risk.

Flood insurance in the UK: a system in transition

Diane Horn
Coastal Geomorphology in the Department of Geography,
Environment and Development Studies at Birkbeck College
University of London)University of Rhode Island (URI)

This presentation will describe the major changes taking place in the UK flood insurance market and compare the UK's entirely private insurance market to countries where the government plays a major role, particularly the US National Flood Insurance Program. The UK approach is unique in not passing any flood risk to government, but recent floods have challenged the informal agreement between the insurance industry and the UK government. Unusually, insurers are arguing against a free market solution, arguing that no country in the world provides universal flood cover without some form of government-led support. This reliance on the private sector means that insurance coverage, premium subsidies, penetration rates, disaster assistance after floods, and the links between floodplain management and flood insurance are all very different in the UK.

Psychological Perspectives on Public Perception of Sea Level Rise

Poornima Madhavan
Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University

Sea level rise and associated flooding in Norfolk, Virginia has recently attracted local and national media attention. Several organizations have begun to respond to the challenges of local flooding associated with sea level rise as an aspect of climate change. However, the local public’s reaction to this attention to climate change and sea level rise remains largely unknown. Specifically, how concerned are local citizens? Are they poised to act to adapt to or to mitigate the effects of climate change? Are they willing to change their behaviors? Support for climate change policies depends on understanding how people process information, perceive risks, and make decisions. Social scientists, with their attention to factors that drive human behavioral responses, must play a pivotal role in communicating issues related to climate change to the public in order to bridge the gap between empirical scientific data and public understanding of the need to adopt strategies to promote environmental resiliency. This talk will present a social science driven process model of communicating climate change and sea level rise that aims to promote public engagement in political decision making and broaden support for environmental resiliency policies. To measure public engagement and attention, the talk will focus largely on local flooding in Norfolk, an issue of significant community concern, as a lens though which to examine public response to the broader impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Local findings will then be utilized to generate a social marketing model incorporating human dimensions and scientific knowledge for the use of other communities in southeastern Virginia and beyond that are interested in engaging the public to address climate change and sea level rise.

Flood Insurance in the US

Michael McShane
Finance Department, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

This presentation will describe flood insurance program in the USA and categorize the program along the following dimensions, which will allow comparison to flood insurance programs in other countries.

The three presentations of this panel will cover how flood insurance is handled in US, UK, and the Netherlands to make the audience aware of different possibilities for handling flood insurance. The presentations will provide a basic foundation for subsequent group discussions to consider the related questions.

Vulnerability, security risks and resilience of sea-level change in coastal communities

Jürgen Scheffran
Institute of Geography, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg, Germany
Email: juergen.scheffran at, web:

While rising sea levels are a global indicator of climate change, associated consequences for social-ecological systems in coastal communities depend on regionally-specific conditions. Most important are the vulnerabilities to changing sea levels which are a function of the exposition and sensitivity as well as the adaptive capacity of communities. Changing sea level has a direct impact on the livelihood and human security of coastal populations and may affect infrastructures vital for society. Possible consequences include coastal flooding and erosion, intrusion of saline sea water into fresh water reservoirs and agricultural land. Many big cities and a large fraction of the world’s population located along the coastlines, as well as wetlands and river deltas could be severely affected. Social resilience to a large degree depends on human perceptions and response patterns to the challenges posed by sea-level rise. The consequences, risks and conflicts will be determined to a large degree by socio-economic factors, causal chains and action potentials. To provide a systematic analysis, the issue of sea-level rise will be integrated into a framework of climate-society interaction, involving systemic and actor-oriented approaches. Socio-economic contexts, security challenges and response strategies will be discussed and compared for low-lying coastal regions in North Germany, the Mediterranean and Southern Asia.

Sea Level Rise and the Political Challenges to Adaption

Glen Sussman
Political Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

Rising seas pose a threat to coastal communities from residential to commercial properties to educational and industrial sites as well as military installations. Adapting to sea level rise will involve the participation of a variety of stakeholders but they face several political challenges. In order to focus on adaption strategies within or between countries, it is first necessary to frame the issue of sea level rise in terms of the “science and politics problem.” It is difficult to speak about the issue of sea level rise without making reference to climate change, an issue that has become politicized especially in the United States. Climate science has a long history dating back to the “greenhouse pioneers” who warned about the association of a warming planet and the buildup of greenhouse gases. During the 19th and 20th centuries through the first decade of the 21st century, the scientific community has informed us that human activities are a major driver of contemporary climate change and its consequences including sea level rise. Politics plays a significant role in the climate policy-making process. How do we integrate the findings of scientific research and self-interests that drive politics? Policy-makers are influenced by their partisan and ideological perspectives, electoral politics, constituency interests, and pressure from business and industry (in this case, the fossil fuel industry). Because of a fear of more government intrusion and more regulations, U.S. leadership, in particular, has been thwarted by entrenched economic interests, conservative ideologues, and an obstructionist House of Representatives. Consequently, adaption strategies to address sea level rise will require a broad and effective coalition of stakeholders within and between countries that will include federal, state, and local officials, citizens, and the scientific community.

The Trends and Implications for Sea Level Rise in NATOs Future Security Environment

Col. Janos Szonyegi
HQ Supreme Allied Command Transformation Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, Strategic Analysis Branch Head, Norfolk, VA, USA, Phone: 757-747-3374; Cell: 757-753-7390; Fax: 757-747-3242; E-mail: Janos.Szonyegi at

Climate change is expected to bring about in the future a rise in sea level that will present challenges to the rapidly growing urban population at the shore lines. In addition, rivers' delta is a crucial agricultural land for millions providing food, income and habitat that is under threat if and when the sea level rises. Undeniably, this development will require more attention from International Organizations, NGOs, as well as from NATO.

In order to be successful, the Alliance needs to start conducting a tailored and adequate planning of a common effort, a process together with other IOs and NGOs today. Drawing from some of the findings and conclusions of ACT's Strategic Foresight Analysis, this presentation intends to identify the security challenges connected with sea level rise and describe the way ahead for the Alliance to address this issue.

Urbanisation is one of the major trends linked to the sea level rise. Expectations are that most of the population will live in coastal areas close to critical infrastructure (i.e. water, power plants, and ports). This will have security implications for the Alliance. Securing both the population as well as the critical infrastructure is a challenge. Moving to coastal areas associates to migration, which will be another security challenge in the future. Over-population in certain urban areas implies security problems that the police might not be able to tackle independently. Furthermore, resource scarcity, e.g. access to clean water, may increase the potential for conflict. The sea level rise is one of the challenges that illustrate the transformation at NATOs strategic thinking.

Tipping Points and Adaptation Pathways

Eelco van Beek
Deltares and Twente University and UNESCO-IHE
The Netherlands

For a low-lying country as the Netherlands sea level rise is a serious issue. Not only does it impact our safety against flooding, it also restricts the fresh water availability in our delta as increased salt seawater intrusion is threatening our intakes. Although our safety level against flooding from the sea is high, 1:10,000 years, with each cm sea level rise this safety level goes down unless additional measures are taken. But what to do and when: not too much and not too little, not too early but certainly not too late. In a democratic society such as the Netherlands citizens’ perceptions play a major role in deciding what to do and when. These perceptions can be political based but are also, and maybe in particular, influenced by events. A very high storm surge at the North Sea can be a good warning to the decision makers to take action but also events far away from the Netherlands such as Katrina and Sandy influence our perceptions. But how to act under an uncertain future? How much sea level can we expect in 2050 and 2100? Traditionally, scientists focus their research on providing climate services that aim to reduce uncertainty about the future through (climate) monitoring and modelling. However, this alone is insufficient for decision makers. In dealing with uncertainties, the act of anticipating by means of decision services is at least as important. Decision services start from the assumption that the future is inherently unpredictable, accept uncertainties and act from there. The decision service approach used in the Netherlands is the exploration of tipping points and adaptation pathways that supports decision making on short term actions while keeping options open to adapt. This short talk will highlight some of these scientific developments and discusses their usefulness.

Speaker Biographies

Austin Becker
University of Rhode Island (URI)

Dr. Becker is Assistant Professor of Coastal Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of Rhode Island (URI). He is an interdisciplinary social scientist working across the fields of planning, policy, engineering, and climate-change science. His research contributes to untangling complex problems involving uncertainty, consequences of large-scale shifts in climate over long time horizons, and the resulting challenges in policy and planning. He teaches courses in coastal climate adaptation, maritime transportation systems and ports, and GIS. He is particularly interested in the use of GIS-based risk and vulnerability assessments and decision-support tools for local stakeholders in both the US and developing nations facing rising seas and stronger storms.

Austin's work is recognized globally and he is a regularly invited speaker at expert meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, as well as numerous conferences in the United States. He also served as a contributing author to the National Climate Assessment and to the American Society of Civil Engineers manual on sea level rise considerations for marine civil works.

Austin earned his PhD in Stanford University's Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources. He earned his Master of Marine Affairs and Master of Environmental Science and Management degrees at URI and he holds a B.A. from Hampshire College. His previous career was as a captain of educational sailing ships, including Rhode Island's Continental Sloop Providence. He maintains a 500-Ton U.S. Coast Guard captain's license for ocean-going vessels.

Kelly Burks-Copes
Environmental Laboratory
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Vicksburg, MS., USA

Ms. Burks-Copes is a Research Ecologist in the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Environmental Lab located in Vicksburg, MS. Over the course of her 19-year career, she has focused primarily on the development of tools to assess the restoration of habitats, communities and landscapes across the country. She is the Project Manager for a ground-breaking study addressing risks to coastal military installations in the face of sea level rise and storm impacts that she will present today, but she is also involved in the development of ecosystems goods and services tied to green-blue infrastructure – something the USACE is calling “natural and nature-based features” to reduce coastal flood risks and improve ecosystem integrity for the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study to address post-Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. On top of all of that, she is currently wrapping up 5 large-river studies spread across the US focused on characterizing ecosystem response to management and goods and services returns on investments for dredging and operations. She earned a BS from the University of New Mexico in 1991, an MS from NM State University in 1993, and is currently pursuing a PhD from the Univ. of Florida (in her spare time!).

Karel Heynert
The Netherlands

Karel Heynert is a flood management specialist at Deltares in The Netherlands with a degree in Civil Engineering from Delft University of Technology. Both as project leader and specialist he has participated in research and specialist advice projects focusing on water resources assessment, flood risk assessment and management, flood forecasting and early warning, and the conceptual design of complex water management systems. He worked on in The Netherlands and overseas. His work in the United States includes the definition and initial implementation phases of the Community Hydrologic Prediction System (CHPS) — the national river forecast system that is based on Delft FEWS ( — for the National Weather Service in the period 2006-09. Since 2008, Karel Heynert has on behalf of Deltares been responsible for the Flood Control 2015 research programme on operational flood risk management (

Diane Horn
Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies
Birkbeck College, University of London

Diane Horn is a Reader in Coastal Geomorphology in the Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London ( Her research interests include beach processes and the role of non-structural approaches, such as flood insurance and land-use planning, in reducing risk in coastal hazard areas. She was the first Visiting Scholar appointed under the ODU Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative, working with Michael McShane on a comparative study of flood insurance in the UK and the US. The first paper from their collaboration will be in the November 2013 issue of Nature Climate Change and will be published online on 25 October.

Shana Jones
Director, Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC)
William and Mary Law School
Williamsburg, VA, USA

Shana Campbell Jones, J.D., directs the VCPC. She comes to the VCPC from serving as the Executive Director of Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), a “think tank” of environmental law professors from across the country. Shana also worked as a policy analyst for CPR, focusing on Chesapeake Bay and Clean Water Act issues. Prior to joining CPR, Ms. Jones worked as an associate attorney in the Norfolk office of McGuire Woods, LLP, previously serving as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar and Judge Lynne Battaglia, Maryland Court of Appeals. She received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, where she attended as the school's first Constellation Scholar, graduated Order of the Coif, concentrated in environmental law, and served as Manuscripts Editor of the Maryland Law Review.

Poornima Madhavan
Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University

Poornima Madhavan is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Old Dominion University, where she is also the Director of Undergraduate Research within the Honors College. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, Dr. Madhavan is the founder/director of the Applied Decision Making Laboratory at ODU where she supervises projects that examine human decision making under risk, stress, time pressure and uncertainty, and the intersection of social science and public policy. Recently, she has been studying decision processes that impact the adaptation of urban coastal communities such as Norfolk and rural communities along the eastern shore of Virginia to climate change and sea level rise. Her research helps understand why communications on climate change are failing to get public attention, steps to be taken to create a sense of urgency required for public discourse and action, and how to encourage the development of public support for policies that lead to environmental resiliency and sustainability through social marketing and adaptive persuasion techniques.

Michael McShane
Associate professor of Finance, Finance Department, Old Dominion University

Brief Bio: Michael McShane is an Associate professor of Finance at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, USA. His research interests include enterprise risk management and flood insurance, which had led to substantial interdisciplinary collaboration. He is associated with the Climate Change Sea Level Rise Initiative (CCSLRI) (, the Emergent Risk Initiative (ERI@ODU) (, and the ODU Insurance and Financial Services Center ( A sample of his papers are available at

Jürgen Scheffran
Professor, Institute of Geography, KlimaCampus, Hamburg University
Hamburg, Germany

Jürgen Scheffran is professor at the Institute of Geography of Hamburg University in Germany and head of the Research Group Climate Change and Security in the KlimaCampus Excellence Initiative. After his PhD at Marburg University he worked in the Interdisciplinary Research Group IANUS of Technical University of Darmstadt, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and as Visiting Professor at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). Until summer 2009 he held positions at the University of Illinois in the Departments of Political Science and Atmospheric Sciences, the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security, and the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research. His research interests include: climate change and energy security; environmental conflicts and sustainability science; complex systems analysis and human-environment interaction; technology assessment and international security. He served as consultant to the United Nations, the Technology Assessment Bureau of the German Parliament, the Federal Environmental Agency, and he took part in the German delegation to the climate negotiations in New Delhi in 2002. He organized a number of workshops and conferences, most recently on climate change and security; nuclear disarmament; severe atmospheric aerosol events; environmental migration; limits to the anthropocene; risks and conflicts of geoengineering; renewable energy; and climate change in the Himalaya region.

Glen Sussman
Professor of Political Science, Old Dominion University

Glen Sussman is University Professor of Political Science at Old Dominion University. During his professional career, his research has focused on U.S. environmental politics and policy, the politics of climate change, environmental opinion, and science and environmental politics. Dr. Sussman's scholarship and professional activities include 5 books, over 90 journal articles, book chapters, and professional papers and approximately 100 lectures, interviews, panels, and speaking engagements. His most recent book is U.S. Politics and Climate Change: Science Confronts Policy (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2013). In recent years, he has been invited to present papers about the politics of climate change at the International Conference on Culture, Politics & Climate Change at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2012 and at the 2011 Dupont Summit in Washington, DC. In addition to publishing and presenting papers in research outlets in the United States, Dr. Sussman has been invited to present papers at several international conferences including the 1st International Summit on Global Warming, Climate Change and Hurricanes, Crete, Greece in May 2007, the 2nd International Conference on European and International Political and Economic Affairs in Athens, Greece in May 2004, and the Berlin Conference on Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change in Berlin, Germany in December 2001.

Colonel Janos Szonyegi
Supreme Allied Command Transformation, Strategic Plans and Policy
Strategic Analysis Branch Head

Colonel Szonyegi is the Strategic Analysis Branch Head at Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, VA. He has been working on NATO strategic level issues for 14 years. Previously, he filled positions both at the NATO HQ in Brussels as a national representative and in several national positions in the Hungarian Ministry of Defence. His current portfolio includes the development and implementation of the Strategic Foresight Analysis that embraces the challenges and opportunities members of the North Atlantic Alliance might face in 2030. The findings of this study identifies five major themes that will have primary impact on the future security environment ( (1) Politics; (2) Technology; (3) Resources; (4) Human; (5) Environment and Climate), 15 trends and 34 defence and security implications. In addition to this work he has been involved in the analysis of energy security related issues. Colonel Szonyegi has a Master of Science degree from Budapest Technical University, a Master of Arts in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and is currently a PhD Student in International Studies at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.

Eelco van Beek
Deltares and Twente University and UNESCO-IHE
The Netherlands

Prof. Eelco van Beek (Netherlands, 1948) is a senior Integrated Water Resources Planning specialist. During the 40 years of his professional career he has been involved in many water resources projects all over the world, integrating the water resources issues ‘too much, too little and too dirty’ into an overall spatial and environmental planning approach. This includes national water resources plans for the Netherlands, Egypt and Trinidad-Tobago, as well as more specific regional water resources projects in Indonesia, Iran, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Ghana, India, Mexico and Bangladesh. In many of the more recent projects climate change adaptation and increasing the resilience of the system to climate variability and change plays a major role.

He combines his advisory specialist role at Deltares (70%) with an academic role as full professor at Twente University and UNESCO-IHE (30%), among others supervising MSc theses and PhD dissertations on strategic issues on water resources. He is project leader of several major national research projects on how to deal in water management with the uncertainties of an unknown future. Since January 2012 he is a member of the Technical Committee (TEC) of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the leading international organization advocating Integrated Water Resource Management.

Abstracts, Poster Presentations

Changing climate, changing behavior: adaptive economic behavior and housing markets responses to flood risks

Okmyung Bin1, and Tatiana Filatova2
1) Department of Economics, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4353, USA
2) Centre for Studies in Technology and Sustainable Development, University of Twente, 7500 AE Enschede, NL

Spatial econometrics and analytical spatial economic modeling advanced significantly in the recent years. Yet, methodologically they are designed to tackle marginal changes in the underlying dynamics of spatial urban systems. In the world with climate change, however, abrupt sudden non-marginal changes in economic system are expected. We address this gap by integrating adaptive expectations about land market dynamics and hedonic analysis of housing market dynamics in flood-prone areas within a spatial agent-based land market model for a coastal housing market in North Carolina.

Accelerated Erosion and Sea Level Rise: The Case for Adaptive Policies

Lisa Granquist
Northeastern University (PhD candidate, Law & Public Policy), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Guest student)

What happens when a shoreline experiences 50 years of erosion in a matter of months? Or 50 years of sea level rise in 2 days due to increase in tide range? Do policies designed to respond to decadal processes adequately and fairly address situations of accelerated erosion and sea level rise? Are there more aggressive actions that might be suitable to save existing structures and property without negative environmental impacts?

There are two categories of cases: Type I cases are those with a history of stability with period(s) of accelerated erosion or sea level rise returning to stability and Type II cases, those with accelerated cycles of erosion or sea level rise returning to historical cycles of accretion. In these cases of short and mid-term cyclic processes, adaptive policies that allow more aggressive actions might be suitable to save existing structures, since the impacts on the shore processes will be mitigated over the decadal timeframe as higher water levels (i.e. increased tide range, wave heights) and resultant shore erosion processes will diminish.

Type I cases presented are Pleasant Bay in Cape Cod and Siasconset Beach on Nantucket Island, both in Massachusetts. Type II case presented is Plum Island, Massachusetts. The current one-size-fits-all policy responses resulted in decreased property values and property loss and have not necessarily provided environmental benefits. In many cases dwellings simply collapsed or needed to be removed as a result of accelerated processes. There is no doubt that in some instances structures should never have been built in these sensitive areas. However, where the decadal processes would return the shoreline to or close to pre-existing conditions, planning and implementation strategies designed for different time scales could reduce property loss and subsequent litigation while fully protecting resource values.

In Type I cases, the accelerated events have clear beginning, middle, and end stages. For example, around Pleasant Bay and its enclosing barrier spit, Nauset Beach, changes in tides have been identified and shoals have been stable in the past. Recently-formed tidal inlets on Nauset Beach have temporarily increased the tide range by up to 0.3 m. Historical analyses show that this inlet will migrate south or close. At Plum Island, a Type II case, shifting off-shore bars, not instantaneous sea level rise, caused the accelerated erosion events. Specific locations experienced rapid isolated short-term increases in erosion rate. There is evidence that the trend will return to its historical rate.

Adaptive policies to address these short and mid-term accelerated conditions are needed. Proposed solutions might include zoning variances and wetland resource area responses that temporarily allow more aggressive protection methods than in other settings where the decadal processes are dominant.

Armoring the Massachusetts Coast: Increased Protection or Added Risk?

Lisa Granquist
Northeastern University (PhD candidate, Law & Public Policy), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Guest student)

Armoring the coast using structures like seawalls and revetments has been a traditional response to the natural changes in shoreline configuration. But hard engineered structures like seawalls can have unintended consequences on nearby beaches and properties.

In addition to the environmental and property impacts of these structures, the enormous costs of construction and maintenance are proving financially unsustainable for taxpayers.

With the increased risks to coastal property, infrastructure and livelihoods that are the inevitable results of rising sea levels and increased coastal storm activity and intensity, it is time to examine the effects of engineered hard protection structures.

Political and societal impulses to armor the coast must be informed by the results of the study of the actual impacts of these structures.

This study examines the change in shoreline erosion rates before and after the installation of hard engineered structures in two Massachusetts coastal communities and some of the economic costs involved.

This initial look at the relationship between shoreline protection structures and accelerated erosion demonstrates that this topic is important for further research to support the decisions that will be made about the development and implementation of effective and equitable coastal adaptation and resilience policies.

Climate Science Investigations (CSI): An Online Series of Modules that Teach Students to Use Evidence-Based Scientific Argumentation to Address Climate Skeptics Claims

Julie Lambert
Florida Atlantic University

Climate Science Investigations (CSI) is an online, interactive series of modules and teaching resources that enable secondary and undergraduate students to analyze and use NASA and NOAA data to address the public's questions and commonly held misconceptions about climate change. The curriculum development was funded through the NASA Innovations in Climate Education (NICE) program and is being piloted with high school and undergraduate students throughout south Florida and Ventura County, California.

The instructional approach is to use the questions about climate change, and the arguments that underlie them, as a basis for teaching the practices of science and the critical thinking skills inherent in these processes. The CSI modules are sequenced so that students progressively discover the evidence of climate change and human involvement. They examine data and are guided to formulate reasonable explanations about the causes and impacts of climate change as they move through the modules. In the first module, students are introduced to climate science inquiry and the practices and nature of science and skepticism. In the second module, students examine extreme weather events and review the difference between weather and climate. Students examine the concept of balancing Earth's energy budget, a fundamental concept to understanding climate science, in the third module; and in the fourth module, they investigate the temporal and regional temperature data to examine the question of whether Earth is warming, and if so, how rapidly. In the fifth module, students compare natural and human causes of climate change and discover that the observations can only be explained when both are included in the climate models. In the sixth module, students investigate the observed and projected impacts of climate change. In the seventh module, solutions for adaption and mitigation are explored, and finally, as a culminating module, students practice addressing climate skeptics claims.

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