Development of a Methodology for the Assessment of Sea Level Rise Impacts on Florida's Transportation Modes and Infrastructure

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Development of a Methodology for the Assessment of Sea Level Rise Impacts on Florida's Transportation Modes and Infrastructure
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    Final report; 4/21/2010-1/31/2012
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    Many studies and models projecting future rates of sea level rise (SLR) from the global level to regional studies specific to Florida exist. While many different projections and models are available, there is no consensus as to which projections of SLR would be most appropriate to evaluate the vulnerability of transportation infrastructure. This research includes a comprehensive literature review and analysis of SLR projections, studies, models, and methodologies used in Florida. After analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of these various studies, together with workshop reports and expert consultation, the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) researchers recommend using the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) guidance for forecasting SLR in Florida. The USACE guidance considers scenarios of possible future rates of mean sea level change over various planning horizons. These scenarios can be used to identify and assess potentially vulnerable infrastructure and make more informed decisions regarding the timing of when SLR impacts might occur and for implementing adaptation actions. A SLR scientific working group developed consensus projections using the USACE guidance for the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact). The Compact is comprised of the governments of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. The Compact consensus projections include: Planning Horizon 2030 - SLR (low-high) 3-7 in.; Planning Horizon 2060 - SLR (low-high) 9-24 in. The FAU researchers used the Weiss Overpeck 1-meter SLR projection for Florida to illustrate a downscaling evaluation technique developed to identify potentially vulnerable transportation infrastructure. The evaluation methodology uses readily available ArcGIS data sets, layers, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to drill down to localized settings compared with on-the-ground verification of vulnerability. The FAU researchers applied the evaluation techniques to Dania Beach, Punta Gorda, and Key Largo, Florida. This research also includes a discussion of the potential impacts of SLR to transportation infrastructure, including drainage, roadway base, and surface water impacts, and a summary of adaptation strategies and tools. The research includes short-term recommended actions such as developing a sketch planning tool to apply the USACE methodology to produce statewide and regional projections of SLR and downscaling techniques to identify and assess potentially vulnerable infrastructure. Long-term recommendations include developing a no-regrets and gradual adaptive management strategy in transportation planning and integrating SLR projections with groundwater, surface water, and storm surge models to better assess the vulnerabilities of transportation modes and infrastructure.
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