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Information Sources

Adaptation Planning

Resources to help cleanup project managers and other stakeholders understand climate change adaptation planning and implementation at contaminated sites are readily available online from several federal agencies. The topics and types of resources vary, ranging from interactive maps that focus on certain impacts of climate change to compendiums that contain extensive background information and other tools supporting climate change adaptation decisions.

Climate Change Impacts Information Resources and
Type of Information Available (▶) for Applicable Impact (♦)
Sea Level Rise
EPA Climate Change Indicators in the United States website
Information on "weather and climate" indicators relating to temperatures, precipitation and drought as well as extreme oceanic, snowfall and ice scenarios
EPA Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT) website
Desktop application providing a framework for organizing climate data and a process for identifying threats, vulnerable assets, and adaptation options; CREAT-based maps illustrate scenarios at a 1/2-degree lat/long scale (32 x 32 miles) for hotter/drier or warmer/wetter conditions and at a county scale for storm surge indundation and hurricane strike frequency
EPA National Stormwater Calculator website
Desktop application to estimate rainwater and runoff frequency based on soil types, drainage, topography, precipitation, evaporation and future climate change scenarios
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center website
Floodplain maps
National Interagency Coordination Center National Interagency Fire Center website
Regional outlooks on wildlife activity and maps of current fire locations
National Integrated Drought Information System U.S. Drought Portal website
Updates to the U.S. Drought Monitor map, drought impact summaries and forecasts
National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center website
Data on soil moisture, evaporation, precipitation, runoff and temperature affecting drought conditions
National Weather Service National Hurricane Center website
Advisories, forecasts, and historical data on hurricane activity
National Weather Service Probabilistic Hurricane Storm Surge website
Projections on storm surges
National Weather Service Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) website
A computerized model to estimate storm surge heights and interactive web mapping to evaluate worst case storm surge inundation scenarios in coastal areas
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Digital Coast website
Data and tools for coastal hazards, including the Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center website
Historic climate information, data access capabilities and information on special topics such as U.S. Tornado Climatology
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tides and Currents website
Information on local sea level trends
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sea-Level Change Curve Calculator
An online calculator producing the amount of predicted sea level change
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal Change Hazards portal
Interactive map illustrating potential coastal change vulnerabilities, rates of shoreline change, and probability of erosion due to storm events or long-term sea level rise
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landslide Hazards Program website
Information on landslide risks and a national landslide susceptibility map
U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater Watch website
A searchable database containing groundwater records from about 850,000 wells in the United States
U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change Viewer website
Interactive map to visualize projected changes in climate and water balance (snow water equivalent, runoff, soil water storage and evaporative deficit) on an 800-meter grid

A climate change-related hazard potentially affecting a remediation system may involve:

  • An event, such as a hurricane
  • A sustained change, such as drought
  • An unanticipated project parameter, such as increased stormwater
  • A technological problem arising in the system or site infrastructure, such as power loss.

Detailed information about methods to assess exposure to climate change hazards, evaluate system or site sensitivity to the hazards, and determine overall vulnerability to the hazards is available in resources such as the:

  • U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, a federal inter-agency resource containing data, information and decision-support tools to help federal, regional, state, local, tribal, private-sector and nonprofit-sector organizations prepare for the impacts of climate change; the toolkit addresses coastal flood risk (sea level rise, erosion, storm surge, tsunami, inland flooding and shallow coastal flooding) and ecosystem vulnerability (fire regimes, water resources, carbon balance, invasive species and biodiversity conservation)
  • Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and VulnerabilityExit disclaimer report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group II), which includes a chapter (19) on assessing key vulnerabilities
  • Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional and State GovernmentsExit disclaimer guidance (as published in 2007 through a Local Governments for Sustainability partnership and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]) to provide local, regional or state governments with a detailed easy-to-understand process for climate change preparedness.

Information to help understand broader aspects of climate change adaptation planning and implementation are available through online resources such as the:

The general concepts, tools and examples provided in these resources may be used to tailor adaptation measures for a specific remediation system. Additionally, resources such as these may serve as a guide in assuring that the measures align with climate change actions taken by relevant state, regional or local agencies. Broader federal actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience in the United States are outlined in the November 2013, Executive Order (EO) 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change (PDF) (8 pp, 325 KB, About PDF). Climate science-based risk concerning flooding also is addressed in the January 30, 2015, EO 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input. More information about the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard is provided in a Council on Environmental Quality fact sheet, Taking Action to Protect Communities and Reduce the Cost of Future Flood Disasters.

Engineered Structures Commonly Used in Adaptation Measures

Many resources for climate change adaptation reference engineered structures that may be installed to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts, including those potentially affecting site remediation systems and activities. Engineered structures may include:

Fixed structures placed on or along the shoreline of flowing inland water or ocean water to mitigate effects of erosion and protect site infrastructure; "soft" armor may comprise synthetic fabrics and/or deep-rooted vegetation while "hard" armor may consist of riprap, gabions and segmental retaining walls
A low, impermanent, nearly horizontal ledge or narrow terrace made of earthen material to retain or divert floodwater
A structure or partition to retain or prevent land sliding and to protect uplands against damage from wave action
Installation of structures to stabilize a shoreline and shield it from erosion; techniques for “soft” stabilization involve replenishment of sand and/or vegetation or placement of other natural materials, while "hard" stabilization typically involves bulkheads, concrete sea walls, riprap, jetties or groins
Coastal hardening:
An earthen, rock, concrete, and/or steel barrier constructed across a flowing water channel to impound water and, as needed, divert floodwater
A wall generally of earthen materials designed to prevent permanent submergence of lands below sea level, tidal flooding of lands between sea level and spring high water, or storm-surge inundation of a floodplain
A network of buffer areas (land free of dried vegetation and other flammable materials) and/or manufactured systems (such as such as radiant energy shields and electrical raceway fire barrier systems) to prevent spread of fire
Fire barrier:
A wire mesh basket or mattress filled with rocks or in some cases masonry materials to stabilize banks and/or beds of surface water channels, divert floodwater away from certain sections of a channel, or retain land slopes
A structure typically constructed of concrete, timbers, steel or rock and oriented perpendicular to a coastline in order to accumulate littoral sand by interrupting long-shore transport processes
A steel bar installed in a cement-grouted borehole to secure an apparatus on a ground surface or to reinforce a retaining wall against a sloped earth mass
Ground anchor:
A heavy metal bracket that reinforces physical connection between the roof and walls of a building or housing unit
Hurricane strap:
A structure of concrete and/or rock at the mouth of a river or tidal inlet to help stabilize a navigation channel, by preventing channel shoaling due to littoral materials and directing and/or confining the river or tidal flow
A wall, generally of earthen materials, designed to prevent the flooding of a river after periods of exceptional rainfall
A structure that supports earth masses having a vertical or near-vertical slope (such as 70 degrees); the structure may consist of material such as concrete, gabions, steel sheet piles or timber (and may include a reinforcement element such as geosynthetic material) forming a gravity wall, cantilevered wall, anchored wall or mechanically stabilized wall
Retaining wall:
A constructed basin intended to retain or detain stormwater runoff; a retention pond ("wet pond") holds a permanent pool of water throughout the year (or at least throughout the wet season) while a detention pond ("dry pond") is designed to detain runoff for a minimum time (such as 24 hours) during storm events
Stormwater pond:
A layer, facing, or protective mound of stones randomly placed along stream or river banks, a shoreline, or a structure to prevent erosion, scour, or sloughing
A structure typically built parallel to a coastal shore to prevent erosion and other damage by wave action, often retaining the earth against its shoreward face; a "hard" seawall is often made of concrete or stone and more massive than (and therefore capable of resisting greater wave forces than) a bulkhead, while a "soft" seawall consists of replenished sand and/or vegetation
A permanent mount that allows rapid deployment of a cable system extending from the top of a unit to ground surface
Tie down:
A broad, shallow channel with a dense stand of vegetation covering the side slopes and bottom of an earthen structure to retain or divert floodwater
Vegetated swale:

[Descriptions of these engineered structures are extracted or adapted from resources such as the: (1) U.S. EPA Office of Air and Radiation/Office of Atmospheric Programs/Climate Change Division; Vocabulary Catalog List Detail – Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-level Rise Glossary and Acronyms; (2) U.S. EPA; National Menu of Stormwater Best Management Practices; (3) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Coastal and Hydraulics Library; Glossary; and (3) NOAA; Ocean & Coastal Resource Management; Shoreline Management Types: Definitions.]

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