Integrating Climate Change Scenarios and Co-developed Policy Scenarios to Inform Coastal Adaptation: Results from a Tillamook County, Oregon Knowledge to Action Network

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Eva Lipiec1, Peter Ruggiero1, Katherine Serafin1, John Bolte2, Alexis Mills2, Patrick Corcoran3, John Stevenson3 and Denise Lach3, (1)Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, United States, (2)Oregon State University, Biological and Ecological Engineering, Corvallis, OR, United States, (3)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
Local decision-makers often lack both the information and tools to reduce their community’s overall vulnerability to current and future climate change impacts. Managers are restricted in their actions by the scale of the problem, inherent scientific uncertainty, limits of information exchange, and the global nature of available data, rendering place-based strategies difficult to generate. Several U.S. Pacific Northwest coastal communities are already experiencing chronic erosion and flooding, hazards only to be exacerbated by sea level rise and changing patterns of storminess associated with climate change. To address these issues, a knowledge to action network (KTAN) consisting of local Tillamook County stakeholders and Oregon State University researchers, was formed to project future flooding and erosion impacts and determine possible adaptation policies to reduce vulnerability.

Via an iterative scenario planning process, the KTAN has developed four distinct adaptation policy scenarios, including ‘Status Quo’, ‘Hold The Line’, ‘ReAlign’, and ‘Laissez-Faire’. These policy scenarios are being integrated with a range of climate change scenarios within the modeling framework Envision, a multi-agent GIS-based tool, which allows for the combination of physical processes data, probabilistic climate change information, coastal flood and erosion models, and stakeholder driven adaptation strategies into distinct plausible future scenarios. Because exact physical and social responses to climate change are impossible to ascertain, information about the differences between possible future scenarios can provide valuable information to decision-makers and the community at large. For example, the fewest projected coastal flood and erosion impacts to buildings occur under the ‘ReAlign’ policy scenario (i.e., adaptation strategies that move dwellings away from the coast) under both low and high climate change scenarios, especially in comparison to the ‘Status Quo’ or ‘Hold The Line’ scenarios. Statistical analysis of the scenario-based variations in impacts to private and public resources can help guide future adaptation policy implementation and support Oregon’s coastal communities for years to come.

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