Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment
In September 2020, the City of North Miami was awarded a grant from the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program (FRCP), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection (RCP) to understand the City’s vulnerabilities as it pertains to climate change. The grant is funding a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) to assist the City in identifying vulnerable assets, communities, and places, as well as to develop viable opportunities for climate adaptation.
Rainfall-Induced FloodingFlooding associated with rain events, such as thunderstorms, tropical systems, and cold fronts. Changes in rainfall patterns can cause downpours of rain in short periods of time which may create flooding hotspots in heavily developed areas with impervious surfaces. The frequency and intensity of these rainstorm events disrupt stormwater systems, mobility, viability and more.
Storm SurgeHurricanes are inherently a part of every South Florida community. Storm surge is the abnormal rise in tide generated by a severe tropical storm or hurricane. Strong winds over the ocean drive water onshore which can lead to extensive property loss, damage coastal habitats and beaches and undermine the foundation of critical infrastructure like roads and utilities. Rising sea levels combined with the potential for stronger and more frequent storms in the future may cause flooding in areas that previously would not have experienced it.
Extreme Heat and the Urban Heat Island EffectFlorida’s tropical climate, in conjunction with largely populated and developed areas, exacerbates the problem of extreme heat. Known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, this occurs when a metropolitan area experiences warmer temperatures than its surrounding environment due to the urban area’s ability to excessively trap and absorb heat.
Tidal Flooding and Sea Level RiseHeight of a daily tide varies seasonally and from year-to-year depending on relative position of the earth, sun and the moon, and ocean and wind currents. Seasonal high tides can cause sunny day flooding. As sea levels rise, so too do tides, exacerbating flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Future sea level projections indicate 1-3 ft of sea level rise within the next few decades which will continue to increase the severity and frequency of future tidal flooding. Due to South Florida’s porous topography, rising sea levels will also affect water and stormwater infrastructure in the City.
What is a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment?
A vulnerability assessment is a structured process that identifies ways in which a community is susceptible to harm from climate threats. North Miami’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) utilizes science-driven data about climate threats from multiple sources, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This scientific data is combined with information about the North Miami’s people, assets, and businesses to understand current and future challenges to long-term operability of the City. The CCVA provides the basis for the City to begin identifying strategies to build resilience and adapt to a changing climate.
How is Risk Determined?
Once the vulnerability is understood for each asset, the next step is to determine risk. Risk entails calculating the probability of an event and how at risk an asset is to a particular threat, in conjunction with the associated consequences of that event or hazard.
What is Adaptation and Adaptive Capacity?
Climate adaptation entails modifying an asset to be able to withstand current or future environmental conditions and be resilient against climate threats. Any adaptation action taken is appropriately tailored to each asset. Ranging from hardening an asset to relocating it, numerous efforts may be taken to protect an asset for the long-term. An asset’s adaptive capacity measures the extent to which an asset is able to change to reduce the risk of a threat.
Two businesses, Business A and Business B, are on the same road. Business A has a park next to it and Business B sits right in the middle of a busy street. During a heavy rainstorm, Business A does not experience as severe of flooding as Business B because the park provides a place for water to run off to. Whereas, Business B is surrounded by impermeable concrete surfaces where water does not soak into the ground. Thus, Business A & B have the same exposure, but differ in vulnerability and risk.