As we try to adapt and plan for our cities and towns in the face of a changing climate, we need not only new information to understand and quantify what this change may be, but also new ways to interpret, visualize, and communicate this data to better understand what climate change will mean for our cities, towns and our day-to-day lives.
In the process of designing and engineering large infrastructure projects, huge amounts of data are generated about existing conditions. In addition, with requirements at federal and state levels to consider the future effects of climate change in these projects, data on the potential effects of climate change, as well as how proposed projects will interact with phenomena like rising sea levels and temperatures, are increasingly available. While public outreach processes are required for these projects, the information gathered about future conditions and potential impacts are frequently presented for the more technical audience of regulatory agencies or buried within hundreds of pages of lengthy text. And yet, this is some of the most robust place-specific data we may have on the impacts of climate change and our potential ability to adapt.
This panel dealt with how we can unpack this data and use it better to not only design projects, but also to inform and engage people in what climate change will likely mean for life in their cities or towns and planning/design, as well as daily life decisions that may help or hurt their or their ability to be prepared for these changes.
This panel looked at what and how data was used and shared with the public in two climate adaptation projects in New York State: Living Breakwaters, a coastal resilience infrastructure project on the south shore of Staten Island; and a flood risk reduction plan for a series of towns in a mid-Hudson watershed. Using these projects as a lens, panel participants described the types of data available, the interpretation and analysis that could be done with this data to better understand climate risk, and the tools this required. They then discussed how this data was interpreted and presented in these projects not just to inform the project, but also to inform and engage community stakeholders in planning and decision-making for climate change. The panelists also engaged the audience in a robust discussion about the potential for this type of data and information to be shared and used more broadly to catalyze and foster a more informed and expanded conversation and action around climate change adaptation at the town and neighborhood scale.
• Paul Tschirky, Ph.D., P.Eng – Associate Vice President, Arcadis U.S.
• Allan Estivalet, MS, PE, CFM – Senior Engineer/Project Manager, WSP
Moderator: Pippa Brashear – Director of Planning and Resilience, SCAPE Landscape Architecture DPC
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