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Virginia’s coastal communities are vulnerable to climate change and other extreme events. Photo: Northern Virginia Regional Commission
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Source: Chesapeake Bay Magazine
October 27, 2020

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Virginia Coastal Resilience Planning Framework is out, and it includes an unprecedented warning. In it, Gov. Northam clearly acknowledges that climate changes and coastal sinking are threatening communities and natural resources in much of Tidewater
Virginia, from the Norfolk Naval Base to Tangier Island.

It’s the first time the state has sent such a clear message. The framework begins a comprehensive, collaborative, long-term planning process to accept, adjust, and adapt.

“The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, but not the fact that our planet is warming, land is sinking, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are more frequent and more severe,” says Gov. Northam. “The science is clear: climate change is threatening our way of life, and there is no time to waste. We must act quickly and decisively—and the Coastal Master Planning Framework will be our roadmap to resilience in coastal Virginia.

The governor says the Commonwealth’s approach will use “cost-effective, nature-based, and equitable strategies” to protect peoples’ communities, infrastructure, and economy well into the future.

  • The Framework lists these guiding principles for the Master Plan and its initiatives:
  • Acknowledge climate change and its consequences; base decision making on the best available science,
  • Identify and address socioeconomic inequities; enhance equity through coastal adaptation and protection efforts,
  • Recognize the importance of protecting and enhancing green infrastructure like natural coastal barriers and fish and wildlife habitat using nature-based solutions,
  • Use community and regional scale planning to seek region-specific approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities, and
  • Focus on cost-effective solutions for protection and adaptation
  • of our communities, businesses, and critical infrastructure.

Comissions in four areas of Virginia’s coastal plain will identify priority projects: Hampton Roads; Rural Coastal Virginia, including the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore; Fall Line North,
encompassing Northern Virginia south to the Rappahannock; and Fall Line South, including the greater Richmond and Petersburg regions.

Within these four areas, the Framework will develop accurate projections of sea level rise and land sinking. It will coordinate protection efforts with federal, state and local governments. It includes a major public outreach effort to receive input from all impacted communities, particularly those that are underserved. The Master Plan emphasizes the importance of green infrastructure and considering strategic relocation to reduce flood risk.

“Nature is often the best flood control money can buy,” said Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer Matthew J. Strickler. “While we know that we must protect our most critical infrastructure where it currently exists, that approach is not fiscally realistic or sustainable everywhere. Using natural and nature-based solutions whenever possible will provide the most cost-effective resilience to climate change impacts, while also improving quality of life and protecting the environment.”

-John Page Williams

What ways can you mitigate flooding in the Hampton Roads area? Do you live in Hampton Roads? If not, what are the climate challenges where you live? Are you a community champion

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Norfolk, VA Climate Change – NRDC

Source: National Resource Defense Council
Cities across the United States should anticipate significant water-related vulnerabilities based on current
carbon emission trends because of climate change, ranging from water shortages to more intense storms
and floods to sea level rise. To help cities become more resilient to the rising threats of climate change,
NRDC reviewed more than 75 scientific studies and other reports to summarize the water-related
vulnerabilities in 12 cities—including Norfolk. Although there may still be some uncertainty about what
particular impacts threaten cities and how quickly or severely they might occur, action at the local level
is the most effective method of reducing, mitigating, and preventing the negative effects of water-related
climate change outlined in this fact sheet. NRDC urges cities to prepare for coming challenges relating
to water resources. Fortunately, there are steps cities are already taking to become more resilient.

Norfolk and other areas in the Hampton Roads section of the lower Chesapeake Bay have garnered recent attention for flooding associated with a relatively rapid rate of sea level rise and land subsidence. These impacts put the vast infrastructure—including important naval bases—at risk. Based on climate research studying sea level rise and other impacts, we know Norfolk is vulnerable to:

Summary of water-related climate changes and impacts in Norfolk throughout the 21st century

  • Rising sea levels
  • Increased flooding
  • Increased annual precipitation
  • More frequent and intense storm events

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding

The rate of annual sea level rise measured at Sewells Point in Norfolk is the highest of all stations along the U.S. East Coast—nearly 4.5 millimeters per year. Relative sea level in Norfolk has steadily risen 14.5 inches (0.37 meter) over the past 80 years and is projected to increase by another 1.3 to 5.2 feet (0.39 to 1.6 meters) by 2100. The land in Norfolk and the rest of Hampton Roads is subsiding for a combination of reasons, exacerbating the effect of sea level rise. Further, most of the city of Norfolk is at an elevation of only 5 meters or less with a very shallow slope, therefore flooding from sea level rise is likely to be a priority issue for the city in the 21st century. Indeed, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area ranks 10th in the world in the value of assets exposed to increase flooding from sea level rise. Precipitation and Storm Events and Flooding Under both higher and lower emissions scenarios, an increase in both the overall annual precipitation and precipitation intensity is projected throughout the 21st century. Increased storm intensity will also affect storm surges in the area. The combination of storm surges and sea level rise is expected to lead to significant flooding by tropical storms and nor’easters that did not cause significant flooding in the past. For instance, Hurricane Isabel caused as much damage as the “storm of the century” 1933 Chesapeake- Potomac Hurricane had 70 years earlier, despite the fact that Isabel’s storm surge was almost 2 feet (0.6 meter) lower. More intense rainfall could also have water quality impacts such as increased runoff, which elevates bacteria and algae levels. Naval Impacts Norfolk’s economy relies heavily on maritime industries; the U.S. Navy provided direct economic impact of more than $14.6 billion in the Hampton Roads region in 2008. Norfolk is home to three major Navy facilities, as well as the Port of Virginia’s Norfolk International Terminal. All of these facilities are vulnerable to storm surge flooding. Temporary work stoppages or permanent transfer of these facilities because of flood damage could have a ripple effect on Norfolk’s economy. Increased Temperature Multi-model projections of annual average temperature suggest an increase of 3.1° to 3.8°F (1.7° to 2.1°C) for the Chesapeake Bay area by 2050, and 3.6° to 9°F (2° to

5 °C) of warming by 2100. The combination of increased nutrient pollution of Chesapeake Bay waters from more frequent rainfall events, higher dissolved carbon dioxide concentrations, and higher temperatures will lead to more frequent and intense blooms of algae. Action While Norfolk does not have a comprehensive plan for addressing climate change impacts, the city is currently working on an update to its general plan, plaNorfolk 2030, which will include climate change impact considerations such as sea level changes. To date, Norfolk’s flood mitigation work has largely been composed of ad hoc response strategies and minor improvements to and maintenance of the city’s 60-year-old drainage system, which was originally designed to handle smaller storms than what it is now handling. Moving forward, the city has taken the bold step of hiring the Dutch coastal engineering firm, Fugro, to conduct a citywide flood vulnerability analysis that will be used to enhance the city’s current flood mitigation program and inform the development of a robust, cost-effective program for the future. The city will utilize the flood forecast model to evaluate the costs associated with implementing various flood mitigation mechanisms and the economic damages avoided by installing these mechanisms.

© Natural Resources Defense Council July 2011

What you can do:

For more information, please contact:
Michelle Mehta
(310) 434 2300

Where are you located? What are the climate challenges in your area? How have you responded to them?

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What do Bed Sheets have to do with it?

I got a late night call a few weeks ago from my father. He is not a late night kind of guy especially these days. So, when he called I was curious. Luckily so. He was calling with a weather watch warning. Although we were well into April, he told me that the weather was going to dip to frost levels. Once you get into April you figure you are safe. But, being from Massachusetts, I have seen it snow in July. Albeit snow flurries. It still snowed on a beautiful July day. I typically keep an eye on the weather mostly to see when it is going to rain. But, it is a good idea to know the weather for the day regardless, having a garden. There are several weather apps that come with or that you can put on your phone. So, keeping up with the weather is fairly easy to do. These apps are typically very user friendly and very informative. You will find that many of the things you learned in science class will come in handy when you begin to garden.

So what do bed sheets have to do with this anyway. Everything, as my dad pointed out. Bed sheets are a good way to keep the frost away as plants brave the chilly night frost. Most gardeners will tell you if a frost is coming or other inclement weather that may damage your crop, harvest all you can because your crop may not make it through.

Grab a few of the bed sheets that you were planning on replacing anyway. Preferably the ones without the elastic edges. And spread them lightly over your plants covering the tops and sides of your plants completely. Relax any spots weighing down heavily on the plants and protect plant stalks from damage or breakage.

Needless to say, when we got our weather watch warning we did just that. Of course before the frost. The next day we checked for any signs of frost. I was happy to thank my dad and to let him know that the plants showed no signs of frost. Launder your sheets as needed and place them with the rest of your gardening supplies for the next unexpected frost. What did you discover about gardening that you did not expect? Who are your gardening cohorts? Who do you know who also enjoys gardening? Share this site with them. Have some useful gardening tips and experience? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment or sending us an email. Have more questions than answers? Ask. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.