Sea Level Rise Projection Needs Capacities and Alternative Approaches

Project Years: 2013

Lead Faculty: 

  • Dr. Robert Deyle, Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, FSU
  • Dr. William Butler, Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, FSU
  • Lindsay Stevens, Planner-In-Residence, Florida Planning and Development Lab, FSU

Student Members: 

  • Cassidy Mutnansky, M.S.P. Student, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, FSU

Prepared for: 

  • Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Community Resilience Initiative


Image of coastal errosion

Project Summary: 

While neither the state nor federal governments currently mandates that local, regional, or state agencies incorporate sea level rise into planning efforts, many local governments and regional and state agencies in Florida are considering doing so and some have already begun to develop vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies and policies. In some cases political wariness or disavowal of climate change is constraining sea level rise adaptation initiatives, even where agency staff is inclined to do so. In other settings, concerns with other community or agency problems and objectives limit the resources available to address sea level rise adaptation.

The data and technical needs of the agencies we consulted vary. They depend on the organization’s level of engagement with the sea level rise adaptation challenge, the stage of adaptation planning in which they are engaged, and their in-house technical capacities.

Several collaborative initiatives have emerged that pool the expertise and technical resources of multiple local and regional agencies, most notably the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. In other areas, regional planning councils (RPCs) have taken the lead in conducting vulnerability assessments in collaboration with local governments and in assisting them in developing adaptation strategies and policies.

Several state agencies have begun vulnerability assessments to support their agency missions, in particular the State Department of Health and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Others are developing information and resources that can be used by regional and local government organizations in their adaptation planning efforts. The State Department of Transportation has initiated development of a vulnerability assessment tool for use in long-range transportation planning by Metropolitan Planning Organizations, while the Department of Economic Opportunity is developing several resources to promote community resiliency to coastal flooding and sea level rise including collaboration with the Division of Emergency Management to integrate climate change into the State Hazard Mitigation Plan. RPCs are best equipped to provide technical assistance to local government adaptation planning but must be entrepreneurial to secure funding for such initiatives.