Coastal Resilience

Helping Coastal Communities Build Resilience to Climate Change & Minimize Flood Risk

Coastal communities in the United States and across the globe face a growing threat from climate change and coastal disasters. Notably, climate-influenced sea level rise can lead to more frequent and damaging flooding from storm-driven surge and waves, as well as during high tides, or other “daylight” conditions, as well as the degradation and loss of coastal ecosystems. These disasters are exacerbated by rapid population and asset growth along our coasts in recent decades. Sea level rise poses existential risks to coastal residents, and can result in property damage and loss, adverse impacts on livelihood and local economies, and environmental and ecosystem degradation. In addition, vulnerable energy, housing, water, wastewater, and transportation systems, and other critical infrastructure assets are increasingly at risk.

WCRC researchers work with coastal planners in many regions, including Louisiana, New York City, San Francisco, the Chesapeake Bay region, and Ho Chi Minh City, to better prepare for future disasters and coastal threats, such as impacts of flooding on individual residents and communities. RAND leads the Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center, which helps communities in the region become more climate resilient through improved data, decision support, and public engagement. Through the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation, RAND researchers have evaluated the uptake and performance of federal flood insurance in the United States, with a recent focus on New York City after Hurricane Sandy.

In addition, for nearly a decade RAND has been a key partner in helping the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) develop its long-term Coastal Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.

  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Winter 2019-2020

    Mar 23, 2020

    An unusually mild winter saw low snowfall levels in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and Baltimore's first February without snow in more than a century of recordkeeping.

  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Fall 2019

    Dec 17, 2019

    A warm and dry September and October turned to a colder-than-usual November in many locations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. September 2019 also ranked among the top ten all-time driest months for Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

  • Flood Damage Reduction Benefits and Costs in Louisiana's 2017 Coastal Master Plan

    Oct 23, 2019

    Louisiana's coastwide master plans include substantial investments in coastal restoration and hurricane flood risk reduction over 50 years. Modeling of different future scenarios showed implementing the plans could yield net economic benefit for coastal Louisiana in many plausible future scenarios.

  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Summer 2019

    Sep 18, 2019

    Summer 2019 brought flash flooding to some parts of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, while other areas experienced as little as 50 percent of normal rainfall. July was also among the 10 warmest months on record for several locations.

  • Damage caused by a tornado in Charles City, Virginia, on April 19, 2019. Photo by National Weather Service

    Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Spring 2019

    Jun 13, 2019

    The spring season saw almost 40 tornadoes touch down across the Chesapeake Bay region, including a record-breaking tally of 16 tornadoes in a single day in Virginia. Spring temperatures were above average for most of the watershed, and some areas experienced rainfall of up to 200 percent of historical averages.

  • Great Blue Heron on a frozen jetty on the Chesapeake Bay, photo by flownaksala / Getty Images

    Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook: Winter 2018-2019

    Mar 25, 2019

    From December 2018 through February 2019, extreme weather events caused disruptions, delays, and damages within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. A December snowstorm dropped up to 15.2 inches of snow on western and central Virginia, while a January storm caused more than 250 flight cancellations at Washington D.C.'s three main airports. In late January, a polar vortex resulted in cold, windy weather across the Mid-Atlantic region.

  • An aerial view of the San Francisco Bay delta, photo by Andrei / Adobe Stock

    Decision Support Tool for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Levees Investment Strategy

    Mar 7, 2019

    The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta faces complex and varied flood risks. Possible investments to mitigate these risks are numerous, and they will affect Delta risks differently. The decision support tool aided the Delta Stewardship Council in developing a Delta Levees Investment Strategy.

  • A crew works to repair a road destroyed by flooding on May 31, 2018 in Ellicott City, Maryland. On May 27 Ellicott City experienced a devastating flood for the second time in two years.

    Chesapeake Bay Watershed Climate Impacts Summary and Outlook for 2018

    Nov 27, 2018

    The first in a seasonal series, this summary draws information from other regional climate centers, news and weather information, regionally-specific climate datasets and the best available science on projected future climate impacts to present useful information for Chesapeake Bay Watershed policymakers, practitioners, residents, and community leaders. This edition also includes an in-depth analysis on multi-decadal changes in extreme precipitation events.

  • Ducklings and a swan gather on a sandbank in the Jamaica Bay neighborhood of New York City

    Building Resilience in an Urban Coastal Environment

    Jul 31, 2018

    What are the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on flood risk, ecosystems, and water quality in New York City's Jamaica Bay? How can flood risk be reduced while also improving water quality, restoring habitat, and improving resilience to extreme weather events?

  • Wetlands in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, with houses in the background.

    Computational Modeling of the Jamaica Bay System

    Jun 28, 2018

    Computational models are essential tools to support resilience planning for Jamaica Bay. Models connect observations with hypotheses and theories about how physical and social systems work, allowing scientists to articulate and test system understanding against data.