Facilitating a Regional Approach to Sea Level Rise Planning

FACILITATING A REGIONAL APPROACH TO SEA-LEVEL RISE PLANNING

  1. Carnahan, UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Florida

Situation: The Tampa Bay region is low-lying and densely populated and therefore vulnerable to a variety of climate change impacts, most notably sea-level rise (SLR). SLR threatens natural resources, critical infrastructure, and quality of life. The region has been cited in national and international studies for its vulnerability, as well as its delay in planning efforts. Methods: In response to requests from local governments, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pasco) coordinated efforts to guide sea-level rise adaptation planning in the 4-county region. The Sea Grant Agent convened regional scientists and urban planners to establish the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel (CSAP), an ad-hoc workgroup whose goal is to provide scientific counsel to local governments planning for a changing climate.  Results: Under the facilitation of the Sea Grant Agent, the panel participated in an iterative process of literature review, expert speaker presentations, and facilitated discussion. After 11 collaborative meetings from 2014-2015, the CSAP published the “Recommended Projection of Sea-Level Rise in the Tampa Bay Region” in September 2015.  The report was unanimously accepted by the members of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for dissemination to local governments in October 2015. The report is a necessary tool that local governments can utilize to coordinate, develop, and implement appropriate coastal adaptation and risk reduction strategies. Conclusion: To date, the Agent has delivered the Report Recommendation to directors and administrators at three of the four regional county governments. Since the adoption of the SLR Recommendation, local governments are increasing their awareness of climate change and sea-level rise issues and incorporating adaptation strategies into their planning processes.

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