GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 103-12
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


SMALLEGAN, Stephanie1, COLLINI, Renee2, VEDRAL, Sonia2, POSEY, Peyton3, BELLAIS, Kaylyn1 and DELANEY, Benji1, (1)Civil, Coastal, and Environmental Engineering, University of South Alabama, 150 Student Services Dr, Mobile, AL 36688, (2)Program for Local Adaptation to Climate Effects Sea Level Rise, Mississippi State University, 1815 Popps Ferry Rd, Biloxi, MS 39532, (3)Moffatt & Nichol, 11 N Water Street, Suite 20220, Mobile, AL 36602

Barrier islands are among the most vulnerable landforms to coastal storms and sea-level rise (SLR). While the natural response of a barrier island to climate change is to migrate landward, human development and infrastructure commonly locks a barrier island in place, preventing the island from rolling over and causing it to drown. Since these islands are both ecologically and economically important and provide protection from storm impacts for the mainland, it is imperative barrier island communities are well-prepared and armed with solutions to mitigate damage in a changing climate. This talk will describe two projects allowing communities with limited resources to make strategic choices regarding climate change adaptation. The goals of both projects are to aid citizenry with the necessary skills and understanding to strategically reduce coastal vulnerability to flooding and SLR through education and application.

The first project develops a community-informed and scientifically-based adaptation pathway. The pathway is a functional planning tool that informs decision makers when an adaptation strategy will no longer be effective in mitigating storm damage once a quantity of SLR is reached. The pathway is designed to increase barrier island resiliency to hurricanes under varying levels of SLR scenarios while also improving understanding of developed barrier island responses to future storms. The pathway is expected to be integrated into other on-going climate adaptation efforts such as economic diversification and strategic relocation.

The second project addresses the multigenerational impacts of SLR by creating an engaging, hands-on “Sea Level Rise in the Classroom” curriculum for high school students in Alabama and Mississippi. Four multi-disciplinary modules are accompanied with additional enriching learning experiences, such as field trips; networking opportunities with local natural resource managers, community planners, and researchers; and in-class, problem-based pedagogy. During the 2020-2021 school year, several high school teachers pilot tested the curriculum, and it culminated in capstone projects presented at one of two Hazard Summits held virtually for the schools. Evaluation of the pilot test demonstrated knowledge and behavior change among curriculum participants.