Changes in sea level have led to a combination of new threats. Rising sea levels are transforming tides, leading many areas to experience more extreme tidal flooding. Extreme storm surge driven flooding increases rapidly with mean sea level. Some places will also be impacted by more powerful storms driven by global warming. Rising seas also threaten infrastructure, undermining freshwater supplies, water quality and health, agriculture, power generation, roads, bridges and more. In certain locales, managed retreat from the shoreline may be the only means of coping. Communities that adapt- in-place will likely face more extreme sea level rise events, including floods, king tides, and storms. Moreover, these threats will disproportionately impact communities least likely to have the resources, information, and tools needed to make informed decisions based on their local contexts. How can the natural, economic, and human capital of a region be preserved – or reimagined – in the face of sea level rise?
The Coastal Resilience Network will coordinate work across Columbia and address these questions proactively and head-on. The network will gather social and physical sciences alongside expertise in the built environment and policy throughout the University to tackle the unique challenges from sea level rise, which society is facing now and the coming decades. This network will also research Coastal Resilience and develop teaching and coursework on the subject.