Press Releases
About Us

Activities | Research | Academics | Information | Connecting | Resources | Public Events

1st MAAR | Invitation | Workshop | Sign Up | Workspace

Project News:



An Assessment Report of the State of Knowledge on Rise Mitigation and Adaptation

NOTE: We invited the academic community involved in mitigation and adaptation research to participate in the workshop “Mitigation and Adaptation Research in Virginia”, which took place on August 11-13, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Suffolk, VA. This workshop was supported by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC). For more information on the workshop, see the Workshop web page.

Short Project Description

The Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) of Old Dominion University is carrying out an assessment of adaptation knowledge as it relates to sea level rise. The focus is on the practice-relevant knowledge societal stakeholders need to ensure the livelihood of coastal communities under the potential changes in sea level.

Assessing the Practice-Relevant Adaptation Knowledge

The science of adaptation requires a detailed knowledge of the hazards and their causes in order to be able to assess the threats these hazard may pose. A thorough understanding of the vulnerability of the built environment, the embedded social communities, and the environmental life-support systems on which the welfare of these communities depends is another crucial inputy for a thorough risk assessment that can give guidance to the planning of adaptation. Foresight in terms of possible futures and the consequences of our decisions is crucial for proactive planning of mitigation and adaptation. The societal and individual framework for decision making defines the processes that can lead to mitigation and adaptation. Finally, detailed knowledge of options for mitigation and adaptation viable in the given social, political, and economic context informs decision making.

The assessment report will provide a comprehensive assessment of our knowledge with main focus on adaptation to sea level rise and the impacts. The report will have a focus on practice-relevant knowledge. It will identify knowledge gaps and describe the research needed to close these gaps.


Climate change is impacting the daily life of people already. Many low-lying coastal areas are exposed to more frequent flooding as a result of the rise in local sea level. However, the current rate of sea level rise is low compared to what might happen over the next decades. In some areas, roads and buildings are by now exposed to flooding for up to 200 hours per year and this might rapidly increase to 500 or more hours per year in the near future. Increased risks of extreme weather events, economic costs due to disruptions of public services, changes in the social structure, reduced ecosystem services, increasing likelihood of heat waves and periods of drought, health impacts caused by reduced air quality and new infectious diseases, all are consequences of climate change and sea level rise already impacting lives in Virginia.

The time for mitigating climate change and its impacts and adapting to the changes is running out. There is an urgent need to develop adaptation science and to produce the practice-relevant knowledge that address all these issues. Climate change and sea-level rise pose unprecedented threats to communities across the world, especially the heavily-populated urban coasts. The changes experienced during the last century are unprecedented during the Holocene, that is, the relatively stable 10,000 years in which civilization could develop. There is increasing evidence that the changes anticipated for the 21st Century will push the climate outside the range known to civilization and into a phase of much greater variability. This challenges decision-making in all societal sectors, and it requires a new level of preparedness to mitigate the impacts and adapt to the changes.

Draft Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Hazards
  3. Vulnerabilities
  4. Foresight
  5. Decision making
  6. Options
  7. Knowledge Gaps
  8. Research Needs
  9. Towards a Research Framework for Adaptation
  10. Recommendations

Defining Mitigation and Adaptation

  1. Mitigation of Climate Change and SLR: actions that limit and reduce changes in the Earth's system that are known to force climate change or increase SLR.  
  2. Mitigation of climate change and SLR impacts: actions that aim to protect against certain levels of impacts of climate change and/or SLR.
  3. Adaptation to climate change and SLR: actions that increase our preparedness for a wide range of probable climate change and SLR and allow us to adapt to the changes if and when they happen.